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Feature Wed May 07 2014
For some of us the Grid is as useful as a blank piece of graphing paper. Sure, finding your way someplace should be a matter of connecting the dots. But since addresses on the North Side don't come in coordinate form, they don't give you the whole picture.
You could use Google Maps to find where someplace is, but do you really want to walk the streets like a lost tourist in your own city? And what if your phone dies?
Luckily, I found a way (thanks to this book) for us hopeless wanderers to finally conquer the Grid: an ancient memorization technique called "the Method of Loci."
This method works on the theory that as hunter-gatherers, humans evolved with great spatial memories but lousy memories for numbers and other things useful to modern life.
By building a "memory palace" we can tap into our brain's strengths and memorize anything, from phone numbers to roads. You make a memory palace by visualizing a physical location you are familiar with and placing images of things you want to remember within that memory.
There's a bit more to it, but take a stroll through my memory palace and see if you can figure out what streets these images help me remember.
1. This is where it starts, at the East end of Navy Pier, where the State of Illinois flag waves.
2. Heading West, the next stop is the beer garden, where Hall & Ted are playing their fusion of catchy hooks and time-traveling metal. Ted's 8-string bass solos are epic.
3. Continuing on, smoke stings my eyes, and squinting through it I see the Tall Ship Windy is on fire. I watch the ashes land on six teens texting. lol.
4. Is that the McRib I smell? It's hard not to stop at the 24-hour western-themed McDonald's.
5. Outside the Ferris Wheel, this kid's Z's show he's a huge fan of Zorro. And he's so thirsty he has two 32 Oz. Slurpees.
6. Stepping inside and passing the Navy Pier IMAX, Paul is asking if anyone has seen This is 40. Nobody has.
7. And lastly at the entrance to Navy Pier sits the statue of Roman philosopher and politician, Cicero, protected by eight 40s.
So, did you crack the code?
These images help me remember the major North/South streets & their addresses:
1. State, 0 West.
2. Halsted, 800 West.
3. Ashland, 1600 West
4. Western, 2400 West
5. Kedzie, 3200 West.
6. Pulaski, 4000 West.
7. Cicero is 4800 West.
Do you have your own technique for memorizing the Grid? Leave a comment below.