Thursday, September 16, 2010
boats & shows
We got up early in Chicago and headed to the roof of our fancy, boutique hotel to enjoy some deep dish, cold pizza and to take in the neck-craning view of the Hancock building. Then we headed toward the water for our architectural tour of the city's many skyscrapers from the vantage point of a boat. When I asked my friends on facebook for ideas of what to do in different cities this was the most common response for Chi-town. This was the kind of expense that we had to rationalize as a unique experience worthy of the price tag and then pay for by skimping of necessities at a later date. We knew going into this trip that we were starting off with the most expensive cities but that it would average out in a cost effective manner over the course of the trip.
We found a spot right in front and listened to a very friendly and informative woman speak to us for the next hour and a half about the history of the city and its array of towers. Only a photo essay could do it justice; my descriptions of her descriptions would not suffice. But I would highly recommend the tour to anyone interested in history, architecture, boats, or Chicago.
When the boat cruised beneath one of the city's innumerable bridges you felt like you reach up and touch it. If you were Yao Ming standing on a chair you could have injured yourself pretty badly. As the boat floated under each bridge, the cars rumbled overheard, their silhouettes visible through the lattice work of the steel-grated roadways.
I've always been a big fan of Chicago architect Louis Sullivan, but unfortunately none of his buildings were featured on the tour. I used to work in the only building he designed in New York City: a terra cotta masterpiece on Bleecker Street topped by a row of heavenly angels. I asked our guide about his absence from the tour and she told me that his buildings were neither tall enough nor close enough to the river to be mentioned from a boat. I was disappointed, but happy that I was able to ask an intelligent question about architecture. It made me feel all sophisticated.
Afterwards, we wandered around the city with our remaining hours and found a lovely little park across from the Newberry Library to devour the remainder of our pizza and feed the birds. Then we headed to the airport early, which was the best idea we ever had since the TSA in Chicago is the most disorganized of any either of us had ever encountered.