October 6, 2011

Coming to Chicago

September 28
We found Chicago surrounded by a green belt. I’m sure those who live there consider it an industrial belt, but there were homes too. From charming one story places to delightful Victorians, there were neighborhoods intermixed with company’s. Fishing camps lined the rivers. As more homes and buildings crept in, often I saw they were made from brick. If it was green, it looked mowed. It was all new to me, and I was amazed.

Top: Farm and the Milwaukee station. Bottom: “All aboard!” in Milwaukee and deep in the Chicago Union Station

We slid into Union station the afternoon of the 28th only to find it deep underground, damp, dark, and with rusty pylons holding up the roofs. I felt pushed and rushed up to the surface not quite knowing the protocol of train travel here. Certainly I felt too confused for my own good. Up in the fading daylight we found clean streets and moving crowds pushing toward the long lines of colorful taxies that waited outside the station barricades in the grey afternoon.

Crowds heading into the station.

Everywhere was movement. Everywhere there was the darkness of the rain. We hopped in a cab that rapidly took us to our hotel. I had no sense of direction at all. Number 1 Financial Plaza has 39 floors of firms like Morgan Stanley, and a 40th floor with the Buckingham Athletic Club on it accessible via a separate elevator …with pool and gym.

After checking in, figuring out the elevators, we did the most important thing. For us, a shower in a space that was not moving was the number one thing to do. When we both squeaked, it was time to go out for food. For dinner we walked a few blocks to Giordano’s “best pizza in the world” that wasn’t. Perhaps premade, it certainly had our extra olives all floating on the top. We should have gone to Uno’s or Gino’s. Instead we followed a tip which led us to a mediocre antipasto, and a beautiful pizza that was cold in the middle. When we complained, the waitress blew G off.

Blown out into sprinkles, we headed back to the hotel and almost got lost going as our map was backward and the GPS didn’t work. G found our way. He fixed the TV too, tho the cones still needed adjusting, at least everyone wasn’t blue. We slept well….feather covers and pillows to the side, together for the first time in days. Then G fixed the toilet.

Top: Board of Trade with a faceless statue. Bottom: The Geester in my Padres jacket.

September 29
The second day, we ate breakfast on them. Muffins, butter, bagels, lots of coffee, and more butter. Fats, carbs, and real sugar in the coffee; oh, heaven. I confess we slept in and started late. Off we went to the Architectural History Foundations river tour…in the rain and the cold. There was a wonderful docent that kept me riveted to the upper deck even tho I was drenched through. G fled the downpour for the warmth and dryness of the lower deck. We took miles of pictures…just like every other tourist.

Top Pair: Top of the boat, and the Captain at Trump’s Tower. Center Pair: Wriggly Building clad in white terra cotta tiles and The same building with the Bridge House Museum in front. Bottom Pair: Bridge bottom. Bridges open to let all the sail boats through this day.

Hopping on a Chicago Trolley from the river tour, we took more pictures as we went once around the city catching glimpses of the earliest of modern skyscrapers, the Monadnock Building with it’s massive base, and the first true skyscraper, the Reliance Building. I confess, we were lured to lunch at the famous, rock and roll, two story Mickey D’s by the pazzaz. I ought to know better than to eat there as it never agrees with me, but I had no excuse.

Left: The Monadnock. Right: The Reliance Building both from the trolley.

Next was the Chicago Cultural Center. This stop was recommended by my blogging friend Ruthe The old Chicago Public Library, now the home to a variety of public arts organizations, is a work of art in itself. With cameras in hand, we wandered from the top of the building to the bottom amazed at the details. The restored Tiffany dome and mosaics sparkled. The rooms and halls themselves with their neo-classical feel were warm and gracious, yet I could see how this space had grown too small for the city as a library.

After buying a book on the planning and architecture of the city, I now understood why much of the city was neoclassical in style. It had been planned to be just that way by Burnham, “an architect who had managed the construction of the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago,” quoting Wikipedia. We saw two shows at the Cultural Center, then we headed back to the hotel and a simple meal my IBS would recognize as a good thing. NCIS addicts here. Since we are not attuned to Central time, we caught the second NCIS and were grateful that we now have DVR at home.


  1. You have a wonderful eye for the truly beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

    (Just wondering: you said G fixed the toilet. Did he inform the desk that he had done so? He deserves a rebate of some sort.)

  2. Sounds like G. had a working vacation......but an adventure nonetheless. Sorry the weather was so cold and rainy while you were in Chicago...this week has been perfect fall weather with blue skies and comfortable temps.

  3. If you like architecture, Chicago is the place. They have preserved much of the past, unlike NYC. Great photos. Dianne

  4. Wow - you were busy and what wonderful adventures! It's too bad about the food, though. Did you ask the desk clerk to recommend a restaurant? Sometimes they are a great source of information.


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Peter in front of a wall sculpture. We were invited up to Peter Knego’s home to see the latest installation.   Abstract flat ...