Friday, July 9, 2010

Going Down the River ...A Friday Journal With Pictures

Chicago offers many ways to explore its myriad neighborhoods and learn about its history.  By cruising down the Chicago River, you get a perspective unavailable to even the most scrupulous explorer.  

The group on our little boat called the "Ouilmette" (the authentic spelling of the upscale North Shore suburb of Wilmette) had an energetic and informative guide named Mallory. 

For the casual observer, or the budding student of art and architecture ( I filled 16 pages of notes in the 75-minute tour) the experience will give one a conversational knowledge and new appreciation for the Second City.

Among the things I found in my notes just now:

--Chicago is the home of the first skyscraper. It was 10 stories tall.  The introduction of the steel frame made it possible to take the supporting weight off the building's walls.

--The Merchandise Mart has 4.25 million square feet, and 14 miles of hallway.

--The Boeing Building at 100 N. Riverside boasts the tallest double-faced clock tower in the world.  Thirteen floors are actually supported from the top; it was built over the air rights for the railroad, so trains run underneath it.

--311 South Wacker is topped by a reinforced concrete crown standing 105 feet tall. The 5 cylinders are illuminated with 1400 fluorescent bulbs.  The tower was inspired by the engagement ring the architect presented to his fiancee.  (Mark works in this building).

--Behind it (or next door) is the Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower).  There is a new skydeck there with a glass can walk out on it and see 1, 454 feet to the street below! 

--"Aida" was the first opera performed at the Civic Opera House in 1929.  Offices in the building wrap around a 3500-seat auditorium.  The back of the building faces east, the architect's way of "turning his back" on New york City, who rejected his lover from singing at the Met for not being good enough. (Shades of Charles Foster Kane!)

There is so much more......  My fascination with the city has always been more "microscopic"....I loved learning about the people there and how they collected into the various neighborhoods that give Chicago its small-town feel.

And now, after so many years, I am determined to learn about its places, its buildings, its art and design.  I hope to continue to share photos, information, and fun on this site.  Who knows?  Maybe a new tour-guide is in the making...or an architectural scholar....does anyone think it's too late?

In an upcoming post I'll share what I promised earlier, about the Tribune Tower, Sun Times Building, Swiss Hotel, and Lake Point Tower.

It is a city that is manageable, but with as many opportunities to find one's niche as any other city in the country.  A well-known musician in town to promote a new musical characterized Chicago as diverse and exciting as New York, but without the stress.

Coming up:  a couple films we saw in the city: "Secret of Kells"; and "Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work".

No comments:

Post a Comment