Monday, September 10, 2007

Loving Chicago

During my recent weekend in Chicago, I took one and a half hours out to go on a river tour with a professional architectural guide. Skyscrapers were invented in Chicago and not, as many people think, in New York City. I also discovered they were originally known as 'cloud busters', a Lovemark term if I ever heard one. If you’re ever in the city and have only two hours to spare, get yourself down to Chicago Line Cruises in the McClurg Court and take a boat tour. It will be the best two hours you’ve ever spent. For a start, you will see incredible examples of Mies van der Rohe and the incredible IBM building. You'll also get to look at the more than 6 million square ft. Merchandise Mart which Joseph Kennedy bought for $3 million and his heirs sold a few years back for $700 million. The Sears Tower remains majestic - but my favorite sight is the rolling 333 West Wacker Drive, which reflects a dozen of the tallest skyscrapers in its fascia. Then there is the Wrigley building, built in 1921 in French Renaissance style. It’s a real tip of the hat to the past and well worth a look. All in all there are more than thirty brilliant examples of progressive architecture on the tour and the boat takes you up close and personal to all of them.

Chicago has a lot to commend it and its architecture is second to none in the US. Music roots, particularly the Blues, also remain alive and well, and there are a few better Saturday nights to be had than a visit to the House of Blues. This is a city where the main business is tourism, and if you can avoid the windy, freezing winter, it really is inspirational. Chicagoans love to eat and they won’t let you forget that the deep dish pizza was invented here. It bears little resemblance to the classic, much lighter Italian pizza but is pretty irresistible after a beer or two. To me, the city is vastly under appreciated and under visited. When you add that Chicago is a great sporting and shopping town, you really do need to take a detour there next time you are in the US.


Susan Plunkett said...

Once again an engaging image chosen for the article. I really like the concept of the tour you did. I would have found that fascinating.

I was telling someone the other day about cities that offer the archaeological view by taking people down into old disused train tunnels and so on and showing what used to be and the streams et al that exist under all the infrastructure. I believe London for example has a significant series of old tunnels etc underneath it and many disused rain tunnels and shelters from the wars.

For me thin and crispy please.

mattw said...

The river tour and deep dish pizza sounds like a blast. The Chicago River-front and Gehry's Millennium Park is beautiful. The Art Institute was one of the most amazing experiences in my life, I saw so many masterpieces I had studied in college, it was a real treat. My cousin and their family are lucky enough to live in Chicago.

It is such a historical city, definitely a must-visit on any travelers list. It's hard to forget those pages of The Jungle read in school about the immigrants and and the labor conditions of the meat packing industry of the late 1800s.

I was in Chicago after a memorable Steelhead trip on the Pere Marquette, one of the famous tributaries of Lake Michigan.

Kempton said...

Kevin, Thanks for the tip for the boat tour. Looks like fun from your pix and these pix

If I were in Chicago, I would also hope to run into Roger Ebert by chance, pay a visit to CME (Chicago Mercantile Exchange), and spend lots of time sneaking into Economics lectures at the U of C.

Piotr Jakubowski said...

Nothing beats Gino's Chicago-style pizza. So thick and just loaded with toppings. If I had a choice, I would still go for the classic Italian brick oven pizza, which doesn't feel like you're ingesting a gallon of oil.

I used to dislike Chicago as a city (mainly because of O'Hare), but after visiting it more often, it has started to grow on me. My fondest memory is from the Chicago Auto Show a few years ago, and how wonderful that entire experience left me feeling.

Speaking of cloud-busters, what do you think of the new Chicago Spire that is in development?