The Architecture of Chicago

Trip Start Apr 20, 2012
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of United States  , Illinois
Wednesday, May 23, 2012

[The author would like to apologize for some of the details contained herein. This is supposed to be a friggin vacation, not a lesson on Architectural History. Oh well, read on if you like and feel free to gloss over the dates and credits.]

Today we gorge on Chicago architecture. After a very close call at the curb of departure, we jump on a bus tour led by the Chicago Architecture Foundation (CAF). From there we travel a few blocks to check out some of the historic skyscrapers, and get a quick look inside the Rookery [Burnham & Root w/ lobby modifications by Frank Lloyd Wright (FLW)] and 190 South LaSalle Street (Philip Johnson).Onward to the University of Chicago campus via a winding route chocked full of informational tidbits on the famous residents, history of jazz and interesting building facts. We arrive at the Robie House, another FLW structure built in 1910. The caretakers of the Foundation Trust guide us through the interior and supply us with more facts on the house, owners and architect. It was pretty awesome.

After that, we board the bus and head to the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT). En route, the guide points out the Obama residence and the former home of Muhammad Ali. The focus at the IIT is on Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and his impact on modern architecture through his use of clean lines and his attempt to make his spaces multifunctional. We walk through the Campus Center by Rem Koolhaas and get a look at other buildings by Helmut Jahn.

Our 3-1/2 hour journey ends with a cruise by Soldier Field to the Adler Planetarium with spectacular views of the city skyline and the impossibly blue Lake Michigan. Many of the parks and lagoons from the 1893 World Fair are still around and excerpts from the book The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson keep bubbling up in our mind.

Now we're hungry for food. So we grab some haut dahgs dressed up the local way at Max’s Take Out and eat them while stretched out on the grass in Millennium Park where locals in their business attire soak up some sun over their lunch break. There we also see the famous Cloud Gate (silver bean) and the amphitheater by Frank Geary.

By this time, Lizette’s poor feet are getting raw, so we jump a cab back to the hotel for a change of shoes. Back to it…A couple of bars to continue our multi-city sampling of local craft brews before a lengthy walk along the Chicago River for a fresh perspective of the cityscape and a double-back for a closer look at some of the buildings we saw on the bus. Then over to the Buckingham Fountain highlighted in the intro on the TV show Married…With Children. By now it’s happy hour, so we try out a coupla joints for cheap drinks and rubbing elbows with the employed people of the city.

A looong cab ride gets us back to our neighborhood – the teacher union has been staging protests along South Michigan Ave and we get stuck in the middle of it all. We figure it’s time for deep dish pizza and our stomachs could not agree more. The dinner crowd at Giordano’s is hopping and we settle in for some ridiculously cheesy stuffed pizza and wings. Surprisingly we almost finish off a small pie, though we will no doubt pay for it later. It’s good, but we agree that we are thin crust people.

"So that was a long day", we say. “No shit”, says our aching feet. We roll ourselves one more block to the hotel for some rest in preparation for a day on the road toward Southern Indiana where we’ll be staying with family.

Although it was a short trip, we’re looking forward to our next stay in the city where we’ll hopefully venture out of downtown Chicago.
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