Sunday, July 15, 2012

Day 99: Chicago!

While we were staying with Bill and Joan, we took a day and went around the lake to Chicago!  We've never been there and have really been looking forward to seeing the city.

...mmmmm, fresh picked blueberries...
Because we travel in our little camper with Kipper, cities have been a challenge.  The van is small but taller than most parking garage entrances and it's gotten too hot for Kipper to wait inside it for long anyway.

Bill and Joan were nice enough to watch Kipper so we could drive about 30 minutes south to Michigan City (Bill grew up there, btw) and catch the South Shore Line into Chicago.  It's a commuter train that takes a little under 2 hours...

...and drops you right in the middle of the city!
We had made reservations to take an architectural boat tour on the river.

Taking the tour was suggested by my cousin, Elaine, and her husband, Jay, who came here recently.  Joan's daughter, Carol, recommended that we take the tour conducted by the Chicago Architecture Foundation.

We're really glad we took the tour!  It's a fantastic way to see a ton of the city in about 1.5 - 2 hours from a really unique perspective and the city's architecture is really amazing!

Much of the city was destroyed by fire in 1871 and Chicago took it as an opportunity to rebuild itself bigger and better and has been doing so ever since.

The tour people gave us a really great brochure with a lot of information about the architects and details about their buildings...

....but we can't find that!
So you'll just have to enjoy the photos and we'll do the best we can from memory, what I could find on this cool map tool, and the google.

Fulton House, built in 1898, used to be a cold storage warehouse before being converted into residences by Harry Weese in 1979.  According to our guide, it was basically a huge refrigerator with no windows and it took 6 months just for its interior temperature to normalize before they could work on it.  If you zoom in, you'll notice the balconies barely stick off the building because the walls are so thick (3 feet) that there's plenty of room for a little patio!

One of our favorites, "River Cottages", built in 1988 and also designed by Harry Weese.  There're only 4 units total in the 2 buildings...

...unless you count this house boat!

We passed under lots of the old draw bridges which were pretty neat themselves, although showing their age...

...but it looks like they're getting around to fixing that.

600 West Chicago, now a residence building, was originally the Montgomery Ward catalog warehouse.  The city of Chicago requires that there be a public pedestrian walkway along the riverfront.  When this building was converted to residences, they complied by recessing the ground floor units to create sort of a tunnel.

They also retained all the beautiful art deco details.

What a view!

333 Wacker Drive, built in 1979, is curved to match the curve in the river and has mirrored glass to mirror its neighbors.

The Civic Opera Building opened in 1929 just in time for the depression.

Another cool condo complex, River City Condominiums, with boat slips underneath.  Our guide said that this place has a system to heat the water so that residents don't have to worry about ice freezing around the boats in the winter!

The art deco style Merchandise Mart, when completed in 1930, was the largest building in the world and even had its own zip code!  It was originally owned by the Marshall Field family.

One of our favorites, Marina City.  Can you believe this was built in 1964!?!  The residences are pie shaped!  I did a little googling and found one sale, about a year ago, for a 725 square foot, 1 bed/1 bath, for $205,000 and current listings from $198K - $449K (depending on size and view).  I don't know anything about Chicago real estate but that seems like a pretty good deal!

The lower floors are the parking garage, some commercial space (including The House of Blues), and below that... boat slips!
How cool is that!?!

Even cooler, they occasionally drive cars off of it into the river for movies and commercials!

Tribune Tower, gothic home of the Chicago Tribune. Downtown Chicago actually doubled for Gotham City in "Batman Begins" and "The Dark Knight."

Another great view of the city!

Monument inscription dedicated to Chicago's rise from the ashes...

Once off the boat, we took a walk over to Navy Pier and had a look around...

...where there were some racing boats prepping for a regatta.

Walking back from Navy Pier towards Millennium Park, we ended up on one of the subterranean street levels. There's a lower-level roadway for commercial traffic, taking some trucks from the already crowded street level. 

We also had time to walk thru part of the Chicago Cultural Center, which is a beautiful building that was built in 1897 and houses art exhibits, shows films, presents lectures, etc.

Right across Michigan Avenue in Millenium Park is the big bean!
Technically it's called "Cloud Gate," but everyone calls it "the bean."

And that was our day in Chicago!

Thanks again to Bill, Joan, and Carol for watching Kipper so we could explore the city.
What a city, we can't wait to go back!

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