Robie House, Museum of Science & Industry, Moto

Trip Start Mar 02, 2011
Trip End Oct 14, 2011

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Where I stayed
Super 8 Bridgeview/Chicago Area
Read my review - 1/5 stars

Flag of United States  , Illinois
Saturday, September 24, 2011

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My first stop today was the Robie House.  This Frank Lloyd Wright-designed house is considered the greatest example of his Prairie style.  It is a National Historic Landmark and has been on the National Register of Historic Places since the list was first created in 1966. 

I didn't really know what tours I wanted to go on when I had called to make a reservation.  Based on their recommendation, I bought tickets to the Private Spaces In-Depth Tour and the Guided Interior Tour. 

The Private Spaces In-Depth Tour was first.  It's a 90-minute tour that covers pretty much all of the interior spaces and the tour is limited to ten people making photography possible.  I enjoyed the tour.  The house is very impressive and the history of the property is interesting.

I killed some time in the gift shop until it was time for the Guided Interior Tour.  The gift shop is in what used to be the carriage house.  They have some interesting books and other items for sale. 

I wasn't sure what the Guided Interior Tour could cover that wasn't covered in the Private Spaces In-Depth Tour.  As I feared, the answer was nothing.  I shouldn't have bothered with the second tour.  Oh, well.

The dining room set is on display at the Smart Museum, which is a free museum located nearby on the University of Chicago campus.  Since it was nearby I decided to pay a visit.  It's a small museum so it wasn't hard to find the Frank Lloyd Wright furniture.

My next stop was the Museum of Science and Industry.  It is housed in the former Palace of Fine Arts from the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition,  The building was first used by the Field Museum of Natural History.  After the Field Museum moved to its current location in 1920 the building was restored with the intent of turning it into an art museum but it became the Museum of Science and Industry in 1933 instead.  After some additions, it is now the largest science museum in the western hemisphere.

Due to the huge size and the additions, it's hard to find your way around.  I entered through the entrance closest to the parking lot, which turned out to be the Henry Crown Space Center.  There was a temporary exhibit there that I was interested in seeing called Smart Home: Green + Wired, but, unfortunately, it was sold out.  I went through the space exhibits and then headed for the U-505, a German submarine captured during World War II.  Unfortunately it was sold out already too.  I guess I shouldn't have visited on a Saturday.  There was still had plenty to see though.  There was much more than I had time for before closing.

I eventually found my way from the submarine to the main museum.  I ran around there until I got chased out when they closed at 4:00.

My next stop was the Willis Tower, which was formerly named, and is frequently still known as, the Sears Tower even though Sears sold the building in 1994, moved out in 1995 and their naming rights expired in 2003. 

The Willis Tower was the tallest building in the world when it was completed in 1973.  In 1996 the CTBUH (Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat) came up with definitions for "tallest building in the world" by creating four categories.  They are the height to the architectural top, to the highest occupied floor, to the roof and to the tip.  The Willis Tower held the architectural top record until the Petronas Towers were completed in 1998 and the highest occupied floor and roof records until Taipei 101 was completed in 2003,  It also held the tip record from the completion of the tower's new broadcast antenna in 2000 until the completion of the Burj Khalifa in 2010.  It is currently the tallest building in the U.S., I believe by all four measures, and the seventh-tallest freestanding structure in the world, which I believe is the same as the tip height record.

The Willis Tower has an unusual feature on their observation deck.  In 2009 they installed two all-glass boxes that extend out about four feet from the rest of the wall allowing visitors to look straight down to the street 1,353 feet below.  They're quite popular.  It's tough to get your picture taken in the boxes on a Saturday.

I then went to Moto for dinner.  Moto is known for creating "high-tech" dishes that incorporate unusual elements such as carbonated fruit and edible paper.  Even though I expected a lot of unusual food I was still frequently surprised.  For starters, the menu is printed with edible ink on edible paper and is part of your first dish.  Later in the meal the server blew out the candle that had been on my table and poured the liquid onto the dish.  It turns out, it was a butter lamp.  Another course looks like three cigar butts and is served in an ashtray.  If you're looking for something traditional, this isn't the place for you but if you're looking for something new and creative, I highly recommend it.

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Steve Smith on

Thanks for the review. Would you say it's enough to do just the Guided interior tour, or would you recommend doing the full Private Spaces Tours?

wheresgordon on

I'd recommend the Private Spaces In-Depth Tour. This is especially true if you' want to take pictures.

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