Wednesday, May 18, 2005
The Windy City
This past weekend I was in Chicago. I was born in Chicago and lived in the area until I was 23 years old before moving East. I still have lots of family in the area and visit several times a year, but never have I actually spent time downtown as a tourist. My husband was attending a conference in the city and so I had 2 entire days to do anything I wanted. With my digital camera in hand, I walked down Michigan Avenue and took tons of pictures. This is the old Water Tower, a building that has lots of interesting nooks and crannies. Part of it is used as a tourist information center.
John Hancock Building
My hotel was right next to the John Hancock Building. The proportions of this building, which gets narrower as it gets taller, are based on the proportions of the Eifeel Tower. I never knew that. Also, the X-structure is part of the support system of the building.
This sculpture by Picasso has been there for a very long time, even before I moved away. I really like it, but there are a lot of people who think it's weird or ugly. No accounting for taste....
Millenium Park Fountain
One of the downtown's latest additions is the new Millenium Park. There is a pavilion designed by Frank Gehry, with lots of polished aluminum, a sculpture that looks like a cloud or a big bean (which was covered up so I couldn't see it), and this fountain. Actually, there are two structures like this that face each other. Water pours off the top and down the sides to pool on the ground between them and children play in the water. Although not when I was there because it was only 40 degrees. Faces of people who visit the park are projected onto the brick wall for several minutes and then water comes shooting out of their mouths. Then somebody else's face gets put up.
No visit to Chicago would be complete without a visit to the Art Institute. Their collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings is wonderful. They also have architectural elements from demolished Chicago buildings, pieces designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, Louis Sullivan, and others. Elevator doors, gates, sconces, things that today are only functional and have no heart to them - these architects went to great lengths to make them things of beauty. Actually, everywhere I looked as I walked I could see wonderful architectural details, and I took about 250 pictures.
A highlight of the trip was a boat ride along the Chicago River with a docent from the Chicago Architectural Foundation. We cruised along while our docent described every building along the bank. She knew the name of the building, when it was built, and who the architect was, and could also relate some interesting fact about each building. If you have a chance to do this, I highly recommend it.
And then of course, we had to go to the original Pizzaria Uno's. My husband and I went then when we were dating and at that time you could write your name on the walls. It was the cool thing to do. We would order a large deep dish pizza and pretty much eat the entire thing. Now, you can't write on the walls anymore, and a small pizza leaves us with leftovers. What a difference 40 years makes.