Chicago 2003


Thursday morning we shoveled down pastries and espresso at Bin 36 (the restaurant in our Hotel) and walked south across the river into the Loop. After buying our 5-day transit passes and a small pile of brochures at the Tourist center, we took the "L" 90 degrees around the loop to the Chicago Board of Trade building.

The Architectural Society of Chicago gives dozens of different tours in the greater Chicago area. They're really proud of their buildings - as well they should be! The CBT is the gathering point for the first tour week took: Downtown Deco.

We spent almost 3 hours wandering around the loop getting the history of the Deco movement in general and the Chicago buildings that were influenced. I could have filled this web page with photos of cool buildings, but I only took these two:
  •  To the right is an elevator display / mail drop. Mail drop boxes became one of the themes for the tour.
  • Below is a bas relief on the front of a power station.
deco letter drop and elevator display

deco power bas relief

We took another tour of the North Michigan Avenue area on Friday. I didn't get any pictures of the buildings but I took the shot to the right of Mary standing in front of  thousands of blue ribbons in the trees.

Chicago loves to give honorary street names. As a visitor, it can be a bit confusing because the honorary names don't show on the map, so where am I, exactly? Below is "Today's Chicago Woman way".
Mary and trees full of streamers
Today's Chicago Woman way

Below are a couple of shots of buildings. The spiral thing on the right is the parking entrance to the John Hancock Tower. The first 6 floors are retail, so instead of taking a big chunk out of the paying space of the building, they put the ramp on the outside.

The one directly below is a famous Frank Lloyd Wright house (the name escapes me...). I missed the tour by a couple of hours because I was so busy in the Surgical Museum. Next time, I guess. Chicago is lousy with FLW-designed buildings.

Frank Loyd Wright
spiral parking entrance to John Hancock Tower
This one is for Mom:

On Saturday (while Mary was a delegate at the YWCA convention) I spent a couple of hours in the Surgical Society Museum. The museum is housed in the 4 story, 20+ room "cottage" of some turn of the 20th century heiress. It contains exhibit rooms that cover all aspects of medical science and history. It's quite well presented.

The photo to the right is a display case of replacement heart valves. Do you recognize any of them, mom?
replacement heart valves

We spent Sunday driving around south side with Sam. He showed us the Pullman company housing and some of the 60s era public housing projects that are slated for demolition. The area is not nearly as scary as you might think. You can see how small pockets have begun to "gentrify" but it has a long way to go.

One of the missions of our trip south was for Sam to photograph the various houses of worship. The photo to the right is Sam taking a picture of the "Arabic Temple No. 44".
Sam and Arabic Temple No. 44
Chicago is a cool town - we'll be back.

We stayed in the House of Blues. I recommend it. The rooms are decorated with cool folk art. The fabrics are wild and funky. The bar rocks (on some nights) and can be quiet on others (maybe something to do with the House of Blues club next door). The staff was pleasant and helpful and there is a very nice and large gym  below the lobby (street level). The only drawback is that the gym is a $15 per use upcharge. I only used it once but I have no other complaints.

We ate at some very fine restaurants
  • NoMI : cantilevered out over the street on North Michigan Ave., they have (among other things) a 5 course tasting menu. The sommelier (is it spelled differently for a female one?) chose wines to pair with each course. Fantabulous!
  • Rhapsody : a nice place in the theater district of the loop. We arrived at 8pm so the place was pretty quiet but the food was very good.
  • Spiaggia : another view of North Michigan Ave. (from the cafe) or of the lake (from the main restaurant). We had a very nice lunch on a very breezy day.
  • Fronterra Grill : way over the top Mexican. Mexican in Chicago? Yup. And some of the best you'll have anywhere. On par with Aqui in Willow Glen.
  • Bin 36 : the restaurant in our hotel (House of Blues)