2016 was a transformative year. I had a very clear goal: travel more. In the beginning of 2016, I had five destinations in mind, places that I’d either never visited or had not visited as an adult. Seattle was a blast, New Orleans felt like a dream, Europe was incredible, and then came Chicago, Illinois. The fifth trip, Hawaii, wasn’t able to make it into the calendar year, but stay tuned…

I studied Architecture at the University of Tennessee and the city of Chicago came up early and often. After the great fire of 1871, Chicago started over, and there were plenty of architects whom would contribute to the skyline of the revived American city. After all the years of education, I was excited to see Chicago, for all it’s engineered beauty. 

I booked a four day, three night visit, and along with “architecture,” I had two other goals to accomplish on the trip: baseball and deep dish pizza. 

I arrived on a Sunday morning and after checking into my AirBnb in Logan Square, I did not waste any time. The Blue Line L-train headed into the Chicago Downtown Loop where I walked around, camera ready…

Getting Started

One of the first images that came to me was the iconic clock on the corner of N State and W Washington outside of the Marshall Field's store:

One of the recurring themes within these images from Chicago will be the contrast between light and shadow. It was irresistible. Light was constantly slicing through the canopy of buildings and one structure would cast harsh shadows on another nearby. The first of many examples, Chicago City Hall: 

The Marshall Fields' Store: 

The following is one of my favorite images from the trip. A northbound Wabash Ave. L Train passed by with the Pittsfield Building on the right and the Jay Pritzker Pavilion deep in the background: 

The corner of the Chicago Cultural Center:

Sitting low under the canopy of buildings was also a fun recurring theme and feeling. An alley off of E Madison St.: 

millennium park 

The first major public space that came to mind while in Downtown was Millennium Park. I was eager to see "The Bean." Before I could properly enter the park, a guy noticed me snapping a few shots and playfully jumped in front of me: 

We had a good laugh as I showed him the photo above on the camera's LCD. Afterward, I took a moment to talk with him. His name was JR and he was backpacking across the country just for fun. Coincidentally, he was originally from California. After the chat, I had him pose again for a portrait: 

I rounded a corner or two and was face to face with "Cloud Gate," the proper name for artist, Anish Kapoor's, stainless steel sculpture more informally known as "The Bean:" 

No better time and place for a self portrait: 

After traveling to New Orleans, I've had a desire to create more candid street photography. This man reading in Millennium Park with a White Sox hat felt very "Chicago:" 

Within a few paces of The Bean was another gem of Millennium Park, Frank Gehry's Jay Pritzker Pavilion. The 120' stainless steel outdoor stage/bandstand was too cool:

The trellis holding the connections for the sound system were an intriguing sight against the Chicago skyline:

The following shot epitomized the emotion of the opening moments in the city.  Chicago in early September was very warm, thankfully. I can't really describe it, but there was something magical about all the skyscrapers and the bright, clear, sunny day: 

Another round of applause for Frank Gehry's captivating work: 

killing time

On this first day, Sunday, I had a ticket to a Cubs game, but found myself in the Downtown Loop with a few extra hours before it was time to head to Wrigley. I had planned on doing a few guided tours in the coming days, so I did not seek out specific spots to see in the moment, instead I just let myself wander and capture anything around that felt interesting. A look at 35 East Whacker or "The Jeweler's Building" through the concrete forest: 

A hyper-saturated rendition of the Wrigley Building: 

I'll admit, this is one example where I wish I did a little more homework before visiting. At the Michigan Avenue Bridge there are four pylons or bridge-houses with sculptures created in 1928 by artists Henry Herring and James Earle Fraser. They are to commemorate the history of Chicago and are respectively entitled, The Discoverers, the Pioneers, Defense and Regeneration. Had I known previously that there were four, I would made the simple effort to capture all four. Instead, I ended up photographing only one of them...twice. On two separate occasions (the second instance will be shown later on), I was struck by Regeneration:

...with the Tribune Tower in the distance: 

There was abundant positivity from the Windy City. I would later see a sticker on a lamppost that read, "You are beautiful." Thanks for the kind words, Chicago: 

It didn't have exactly the same vibe as New Orleans, but it was cool to see some street musicians out there: 

My wandering would take me by the Tribune Tower and one of the Captain Nathan Hale statues: 

The bronze likeness of the Revolutionary War hero famed by the quote, "I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.," was pretty cool and photogenic: 

Historians can't confirm that he said those actual words, but the consensus is that...he pretty much did. 

I love the collision of history in Chicago's Downtown Loop, both military history and contemporary sports history. Just across the street from the Tribune Tower was the Intercontinental Hotel and a restaurant owned by a guy who used to play basketball in Chicago, and was apparently pretty good at it:  

wrigley field 

After the clock spun for another hour or so, I hopped on an L Train and headed towards the infamous Wrigley Field. I happily shuffled ahead with the crowd, taking in the energy of Chicagoans and their beloved (would soon be champion) Cubbies: 

I made sure to catch a couple shots of some classic Cubs' statues before heading inside. Nine time All-Star, five time Golden Glove winning third baseman throughout the 1960's, Ron Santo: 

Six time All-Star and NL Rookie of the Year (1961) left fielder, Billy Williams: 

A sea of Cubs fans waiting to enter: 

I took the feelings of nostalgia and history and put them into my images blatantly. It just felt right to capture the park in black and white and sepia: 

They had a cell phone charging station on the main/field level of the stadium. After charging my phone for a bit, I stole a few shots from field level before an usher politely asked me to not do it:

7th Inning Stretch and the final lyrics to "Take Me Out to the Ballgame:" 

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Awesome experience. The Cubs would go on to win in extra innings. 


The University of Notre Dame - South Bend, IN

Technically before the Cubs game ended, I left Chicago to meet up with a friend from my hometown. Jamie is from Stamford, CT and attended grad school at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, IN. Upon hearing that I was planning to travel to Chicago she asked if I'd be interested in stopping by Notre Dame to say hello. After some mental and emotional back and forth (which can be fully read here: Serendipity in Chicago) I decided to make the miniature road trip two hours east to the famed campus. 

The first site Jamie showed me was the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes or informally know as "The Grotto" which is a replica of a cave located in Lourdes, France where in 1858 a young girl saw and spoke to a vision of the Virgin Mary.

Aside from the spider webs in her hair, it was breathtaking:

The Grotto is immensely popular and there were even a few students whom stopped by to pray or light a candle while Jamie and I were there. It's a site I won't soon forget: 

The figure in the image below is in fact, my friend, Jamie. Much thanks to her for the nighttime stroll of the campus:

After leaving the Grotto we walked by the  infamous Golden Dome of the Main Building:

A nighttime view of the Sacred Heart statue of Christ, containing the inscription, "venite ad me omnes," which translates to "come unto me, all ye," a portion of a popular Bible scripture, Matthew 11: 28: 

The final post-worthy image of the night came from the Hesburg Library, which contains the beautiful Word of Life mural by artist, Millard Sheets. The mural has since been affectionately and casually called, "Touchdown Jesus," because, well...you can see why: 


The following morning...

(Monday), I met up with one of my classmates from The University of Tennessee College of Architecture + Design. I had not seen Brandon Burgess since our graduation 9 years ago (at the time) in 2007. He hadn't changed a bit, which is a good thing. He's a fantastic guy and it's definitely worth giving him a shout out in this post. At Chicago's Union Station:

Speaking of Union Station: 

Monday morning loop walk

After meeting with Brandon, it was back to the streets where I took more time to explore and look for details to capture. I strolled by the Chicago Board of Trade building, where the art deco facade made another great case that Chicago is the best city to study and photograph light and shadow: 

I would come back to the Chicago Board of Trade Building about 24 hours later on a guided walking tour, but it was still nice to have a moment to see and photograph the two allegorical statues that guard the entrance of building on W Jackson Blvd. Designed in the likeness of Greek goddesses, they are named, Industry and Agriculture: 

There is a great story that these two statues sat atop the original Board of Trade building from the late 1880's, but went missing during the building's demolition. They were thought to be lost but reappeared about fifty years later, thirty miles west of the city, in a forest preserve. 

I  continued walking down W Jackson Blvd, eyes ready. I would pass by a woman in an alley on a smoke/text break whom unintentionally provided a wonderful silhouette moment: 

As the walk continued, I was drawn to the facade of the Sante Fe Building, now the Motorola Building. I liked this moment because of the subtle variation of color and light: from the cooler feel in the shadow to the warmer feel in the light:

I made a  stop inside the Chicago Architecture Foundation building on S Michigan Ave. to get some info on the riverboat tour cruises. Once inside I was struck by two things.

First, the movie geek in me realized that the lobby was used in the film, The Lake House, which one of my fav flicks about...an architect (coincidentally) and doctor who fall in love by writing each other letters. Sound simple enough, but mysteriously they are separated by two years of time. You know, it's that lovey-dovey movie with Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock....the one that's not Speed.

Secondly, inside the lobby there was a really great model of the Downtown Loop of Chicago:

It took me back to my days in Architecture school. Pretty impressive:

I obviously photographed it for a bit, but then quietly scolded myself, "get back outside, the real version of this is right through that door!" 

After getting information on the riverboat tours, I wandered a little bit more before heading over to the River. Heading along Wabash Ave. it hit me to head up to the L Train platform in search of a few candid moments. Train arriving: 

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This man waiting for a train caught what I was doing, but I feel like his expression makes the photo worthwhile:

Train departing. All aboard. Please stand clear of the closing doors: 

Birds above. An image from underneath the Central Synagogue of Chicago:

I would arrive at the Chicago River and earlier I mentioned that I came across one of the four engravings at the Michigan Ave. Bridge by artists Henry Herring and James Earle Fraser. Here is my second encounter with the sculpture/engraving, Regeneration:

I joked in my mind on this trip  (though it's not a joke) that Chicago is the kind of city that makes you want to buy a fisheye lens. It's hard to capture it all the details and feeling of the space with just wide angle lenses. Here was a perfect example; the Michigan Ave. Bridge with the Wrigley and Tribune Buildings: 

All jokes aside, these buildings were great and it was nice to capture them before getting on the water for a riverboat cruise: 

Architecture Tour - Riverboat

It was finally time to check this item off of the checklist. I was excited to get onto the water to capture that unique perspective of the architecture and more.

Seriously, need to get a fisheye lens:

This was probably a top five favorite image from the trip. Undoubtely enjoyed the views from the water: 

The N Clark St. Bridge with the OneEleven or the Waterview Tower behind. Fun fact: you'll notice on  the facade of the skyscraper, a recessed, indented winding channel that wraps around the faces of the exterior. That was included by Handel Architects as a symbolic gesture or representation of the Chicago River.  (There will be a couple more fun tidbits like that coming up): 

Patterns underneath the bridges: 

The Lake St. L Train passes by the highly reflective facade of the 150 North Riverside tower:

We eventually passed underneath the Kinzie Street railroad bridge:

This bridge saw much use in the early 1900's but eventually many other placements were built in the area. After the Chicago Sun Times moved its printing plant from Downtown, the bridge has been permanently left in the "up" position. It became a Chicago Landmark in 2007: 

Speakig of...

Another cool little detail about the following image:

This is the River-facing, west facade of 300 South Wacker, a skyscraper owned by a Boston based financial firm, Beacon Capital. The building had a concrete elevator shaft at it's center which eventually made the exterior start to feel outdated. In late 2014, Beacon Capital commissioned the New York-based, ESI Design to create a nearly 450' mural to cover the concrete slab. The mural is an abstraction of a map of the Chicago River.

You can see in the image a tiny little red block. How clever, that red block represents the location of the building itself, 300 S Wacker as it sits in along the river in real life. "You are here:"

Of course, we passed by the Willis (formally Sears) Tower: 

Another/last fun fact comes from the facade of 235 W Van Buren, a high rise condo complex designed by the architecture firm, Perkins and Will.  You can clearly see a series of protruding balconies who surface and color differs greatly from the glass facade of the building. The architects intentionally wanted the facade to look like a plehtora of "little blocks" in busy lines to be an abstract representation of a freeway or vehicles in traffic on Chicago's streets:

We would then float past Bertrand Goldberg's contributions to Chicago. First, the River City mixed use complex: 

...then later, his Marina City project. The 65 story condominiums, completed in 1964 are commonly referred to as the "corn cob buildings," and fairly so: 

Our turnaround point to the east, near Navy Pier offered a pretty nice panorama of the skyline:

On the way back in to dock, the view from afar of the Wrigley Building: 

post-tour

After the tour, I was all about continuing to walk the streets and find candid street moments. Any building or monument that caught my eye was captured. The docking point for the Chicahgo Architecture Foundation cruise was on Michigan Ave and Wacker Dr. There was plenty to see.  A look up at the edge of the London Guarantee Building:

Heading west on Wacker, I came to the Heald Square Moument:

The bronze statue by, Lorado Taft and Leonard Crunelle, depicts George Washington (center) with  Robert Morris (left) and Hyam Salomon Memorial, two financiers of the American Revolutionary War:

Around a few corners, I ended up liking a view of the First United Methodist Church and its Sky Chapel, which is a part of the Chicago Temple Building on W Washington St. I always appreciate juxtaposition or contrasts in styles. In this instance, it was the romantic angles and peaks of the steeple and chapel "clashing" against the more contemporary straight lines of The Richard Daley Center in the foreground and Three First National Plaza in the background:

I would later learn on an architecture walking tour that the Sky Chapel is known to be the worlds' highest worship space (though I would imagine that there are a few monks sitting high on a few mountaintops around the world whom would beg to differ). Highest engineered worship structure maybe...

I walked a bit further and would end up back in the Millennium Park area. I stopped inside the Chicago Athletic Club to find a place to sit for a moment and charge my phone. Once inside, I was overwhelmed by their upper lobby and the lighting conditions. There was something about the way the window light was softly coming in, the dark wood surfaces…I had a filmmaker moment. For some reason, I just immediately thought, “I’d really like to film a scene in here.” The space felt very cinematic: 

Phone charged and ready to go, the walk continued. A nice skyline view from the corner of S Dearborn and E Congress Pkwy:

Back towards Michigan Avenue, at E Congress Plaza Dr. there are two great bronze equestrian statues by Croatian sculptor, Ivan Meštrović . Again, like the four sculpture engravings at Michigan Ave Bridge, I did not realize there were TWO statues, so I only focused on...one. That's okay, it just leaves things for next time. The statues are named The Bowman and The Spearman. A couple oflooks at The Bowman: 

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I walked down towards the Art Institute of Chicago and got a nice view of the Fountain of the Great Lakes. The allegorical statue by sculptor, Lorado Taft is the most clever I've seen so far.  I was introduced to the concept of allegorical statues when I was doing my homework and writing a blog post about Paris, France.

If you aren't familiar with the concept (which I was not), an allegorical statue, is a statue in which the figures depicted are in human forms but the human forms represent a non-human idea or concept. They tell a story or, "allegory." The figures may represent virtues like "hope," or "liberty." Or "Industry" and "Independence" like the statues at the Chicago Board of Trade Building. At one statue in Paris, the figures represented regions of the world like the Americas, Africa, Asia...

In the case of the Fountain of the Great Lakes, each of the female figures represent one of the Great Lakes. That alone is pretty cool, but the reason it's clever, is as follows:

[I unfortunately did not walk closer and get a close up because at the time I did not realize the magic of the fountain. It was just a nice image and I moved on. I'm a "shoot first, ask questions later kind of travel photographer."]

You can see in the image below, that there are five figures to represent each of the Great Lakes, Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie and Superior ("HOMES." That's the rubric to remember the Great Lakes btw.) Notice how each of them is holding a pan, or platter that resembles a cupped shell. The water in the fountain flows in and out of those cupped shells. There is one figure standing high, pouring water out of its shell,  and then you can see how the water flows from left to right to the final shell at the bottom. Afterward the water all just spills into a basim at the base of the statue. Why put the water through all that effort? Because it's beautiful? No. 

The water flows in this specific way because, again each figure in the statue represents a Great Lake. They are arranged so that the water flows through them the same way water flows through the Great Lakes in real life. Mind. Blown. 

Lake Superior sits highest above sea level followed by Huron, Michigan, Erie with Lake Ontario being lowest or closest to sea level. Believe that I Googled it. The Great Lakes flow into the St. Lawerence River, which you can argue is represented in the fountain's basin. Pretty cool:

Within the same plaza, I was struck by a very cool moment, which is probably why I moved on from the fountian so quickly. Public dancing lessons:

It seemed as if it was a class that met regularly. Each participant and student was very open and willing and as each song started, everyone would just grab a partner and practice. Too sweet: 

I caught a pretty funny candid street moment. I'm not sure of the story, but this man's expression was priceless. I'll let you imagine what might have happened to him: 

After heading back to my AirBnb and taking a rest, I thought I would head out to try and capture some night shots. I had learned of the Buckingham Fountain in Grant Park. I venture over and it did not disappoint. I expected the skyline in the background, but was not ready for the great color light show within the fountain: 

I ended the evening by getting a shot of Alexander Calder's painted steel stabile classic, a gem of Daley Plaza,  Flamingo: 


tuesday - Architecture Tour - by foot

Rise and shine! 

It was another day in the Windy City and I felt like I had plenty more to see and explore. I started out the day with a guided architecture tour of the Chicago Loop. The tour was free, which is always a good price.  (Free Chicago Walking Tours). A small group gathered and we started out at The Willis Tower: 

(shout out to the iPhone6s for creating such a clean shot.)

Architecture fun fact: The Willis Tower (formally Sears Tower) was designed by Fazlur Rahman Khan and Bruce Graham and is pretty much 9 towers of differing heights all joined together (a bundled tube structure). The image above kinda shows it, the design was actually inspired by an advertisement for cigarettes. You know, how cigarettes stick out of the top of the box and are at different heights?

As we walked along I, was still studying light and shadow in the caverns at street level:  

One of our first stopping points was again at the Chicago Board of Trade Building where our tour guide, Matt (below) shared more interesting fun facts about the structure: 

A nice bird was listening in as well: 

As we continued, I grabbed a quick shot of The Willis Tower between the Federal Reserve Bank on the left (by architects Graham, Anderson, Probst and White) and what was formally the Continental & Commercial National Bank Building (by Daniel Burnham) on the right:

We continued until we came to a Burnham and Root classic, the Rookery Building. I realized afterward, that I did not create any straight forward image of its facade, but I did capture these details shots from below:

For the non-architects, Burnham and Root was a very successful architecture firm in Chicago during the late 1800's founded by Daniel Burnham and John Wellborn Root. They were known to create the first buildings with steel support beams which opened the door to what we now know as skyscrapers. Until their work, buildings could only reach about 10-12 stories because of the use of masonry construction. 

The Rookery Building on S La Salle was previously the site of both a water tower and municipal building and gathers it's name "Rookery" for two reasons. First, it was to allude to the municipality which one stood there and housed the work spaces for many politicians. The rook bird species is known for being sneaky, shady or greedy and well...politicians...you get it.  The second is that after the Great Chicago Fire, the broken structure that remained on the site became a breeding ground for pigeons. Add those two things together  and the adopted name for the building became, "The Rookery." 

The main focal point of the building, and the focal point of our stop during the architecture tour, was the two story interior light court. In 1905, Frank Lloyd Wright was commissioned to redesign the lobby space. He was successful by generating a Persian inspired experience with white marble finishes with gold ornamentation:

The journey continued back outdoors where the facade of the Marquette Building, by Holabird and Roche, made for another good study of light and shadow: 

It was then onward to Daley Plaza where I had a second encounter with Alexander Calder's, "Flamingo:" 

Our next stopping point was the Palmer House Hotel. The structure currently on the site is the third iteration of the famous hotel. The first, built in 1871, only lasted 13 days and was lost in the Great Fire of Chicago. The second, built in 1875, housed many famous politicians and entertainers until 1925, when the Palmer's decided to step it up and build the current structure that is in place today. It is 25 stories and contains nearly 1700 hotel rooms. In 1945, it was purchased by Conrad Hilton, and is currently part of the Hilton collection of hotels:

Inside the lobby area we listened to a few more interesting facts about the hotel, one of which: it is believed that the infamous dessert, the "brownie," was created at the Palmer House. They have them, made with the original recipe, for sale in the gift shop. If not for the massive calorie count, I would have tried one.

The interior was splendid with an unapologetic warm glow:

We moved quickly in and out of the Marshall Field and Company Building which is a major monument in the history of department stores. It is known for many "firsts" for retail department stores. For example, it is the first department store to have escalators, it is also the first to display the pricing of items, which eliminated the practice of bargaining or haggling.

We really did move quickly through the store, but I was able to catch a shot of the mosaic tile celing, which tops the atrium in the Tiffany's & Co. section: 

Back outside on W Washington St. we came face to face with The Alise Hotel...formally Hotel Burnham...formally, originally the Relicance Building, a commercial office skyscraper designed by John Root of tje Burnham and Root architecture firm. The building is know for many achievements such as being the first skyscraper to have large plate glass windows. This look was a precursor for what we see very commonly today with large commerical skyscrapers, wall to wall, floor to ceiling glass windows.

As always, I enjoy playing around in Camera Raw with my images. The image below is a copy of the one above and is better IMHO, in black and white: 

We got a decent look at the Jeweler's Building in the distance with The Chicago Theatre marquee in the foreground: 

We made our way towards the end of the tour in Daley Plaza. Along the way there were more cool studies of light and shadow. Another look at the Chicago City Hall: 

I was wowed by Chicago for many reasons, but after the tour, I ran into a second public dance lesson. Chicago was slightly starting to resemble New Orleans for music and dancing in the streets: 

Before leaving the area, I caught another light and shadow image in the Burnham Center:

and I also enjoyed the curvature of the Chase Tower: 

The United Center

Chicago has an undeniable sports history with a few great franchises and championships between the Bulls, Blackhawks, Bears, Cubs, and White Sox. As you saw before, I made sure to stop by Wrigley Field for a Cubs game. One of my other desired stops was to the United Center where the Bulls and Blackhawks play. For years, I had seen photos of the infamous "Jordan statue" and couldn't wait to see it in person. 

When I arrived, across the street from the actual stadium, was a nice monument to the Blackhawks, commemorating their six Stanley Cup victories. (Ridiculous bit of personal trivia: back in the NHL 1993, 1994, Sega Genesis days, the Chicago Blackhawks were my team of choice. The names, Jeremy Roenick, Chris Chelios and Steve Larmer will forever be etched into my memory thanks to the countless hours of gameplay.)

Across the street, in front of the arena, there were a few more Blackhawks stautes. One of 1960's Center, Stan Mikita, and the other of 14 year Blackhawk legend, Bobby Hull: 

It was awesome. Then it was time to walk around to the other side of the arena and see Jordan and the statue known as "The Spirit." You know, the one of Jordan mid-flight, legs spread, about to dunk...The jumpman logo...THE Michael Jordan image.

A young couple was standing nearby and noticed my excited pace and direction and asked if I was going to find the statue. We pleasantly exchanged conversation while walking around the side of the arena.

Completely on the opposite side, we found the sight of some metal railing blocking off what seemed to be a construction area. Huh. Okay...we kept walking...still no statue. A little more walking...maybe it's around this other corner. At that moment, a local man noticed us and realized what we were looking for. He said, and I quote,

"It's gone, y'all. It ain't here. They moved it. It won't be back until February."

Deep breaths. It's cool....No...Big....Deal.

It turns out that they were doing some renovations and additions to the east side of the arena where "The Spirit" normally sits. Michael Jordan was not to be seen on this day. Again, whatever. It's okay. I'm in Chicago all the time. *exhales. Let's have a brief moment of silence...

 

Okay.

 It was still cool to see the United Center: 

I may have mentioned it earlier, but I while in Chicago I stayed at an AirBnb in the Logan Square neighborhood. After my trip to  the United Center, I stopped back over to my AirBnb.  I had to hop off of the bus and then onto the L Train to complete the trip. Before boarding the Blue Line at the N Damen Avenue station, I really loved the image of bicycles parked under the tracks:

On the platform: 

Once back in Logan Square, I refreshed, changed clothes and headed back in to the Downtown Loop to meet up with a friend at the Willis Tower. In the Logan Square neighborhood, I noticed a few instances of street art and this elaborate fairy was my favorite. Well done: 

willis tower (Sears Tower) 

There's a bit more detail about meeting up with my friend at the Willis Tower in the post, Serendipity in Chicago, but the shorter version is that my friend, Cherice, and I met near the tower and quickly headed up to observation deck. The views from the 108th floor SkyDeck were spectacular: 

Sim-City view:

A nice view of the John Hancock Tower which would be on my agenda the follwoing day:

A look to the east and little bit of the Burnham Harbor:

Undoubtedly the best part of the experience were the glass boxes known as "The Ledge." You are suspended four feet away from teh building's edge and have the opportunity to look 108 floors, 1350' down to the street with nothing beneath you but a efw inches of glass:

nighttime stroll

After a drink and nice catch up with my friend, I wanted to capture a few night images in the city. The marquee of the Chicago Theatre:

The Wrigley Building:

A couple of images of Lightscape, and LED light installation along N State St. It consists of different colored light poles situated in 18 planters that are synced and choreographed to music and special announcements broadcast via built-in speakers: 

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Final Day 

All good things must come to an end. I had one final day in the Windy city and had a  few landmarks on my mind. The first was the Art Institute of Chicago. I boarded the L Train once again out of Logan Square to get down to the Downtown Loop. I took a few more moments to walk the street and find a few candid opportunities and unique street art:

I was an unorganized traveler. I arrived at the Art Institute a little early and it was not yet open (just Google it, bro, then go...). But the exterior was still nice:

Instead of waiting for the museum to open, I decided to head north to the John Hancock Center.

Before boarding the bus to head in its direction I walked by Millennium Park and a very cool sculpture. Crown Fountain is a work by Spanish artist, Jaume Plensa. It consists of two 50-foot glass block towers with LED screens. The screens have projects of the faces of various Chicago citizens. Water flows from the top of the blocks, down the sides to small reflecting pools at the bottom. In addition, there are sporadic moments where water will shoot out of the sides of the blocks:

I eventually saw this young lady standing beneath fountain stream with an umbrella. She made the perfect moment/image: 

After the candid photograph of her above, I noticed her and a friend trying to capture a few images where they were kicking the water and freezing it in motion. They seemed to only have cell phone cameras and were not pleased with the results (score one for DSLRs). Understanding what they were trying to accomplish, I politely approached them, and shared with them that my Nikon D90 might be able to achieve the effect they were searching for. She was willing to give it a try: 

The John Hancock CEnter

After helping out the kind stranger, I boarded a bus towards the John Hancock Center. The 100 story skyscraper on N Michigan Ave was impressive: 

Naturally, the viewing deck offered more appealing views of the city and skyline: 

A look down at Navy Pier: 

It was the view looking north at the coastline with Oak Street Beach in the foreground and North Avenue Beach further in the distance that I realized, “Chicago is unfair. It has everything.” Bustling urban life AND beaches? Come on. That’s Los Angeles kind of stuff: 

Feet back on the ground at street level, I could not help but notice that the Fourth Presbyterian Church was right across the street. The 1914 church is the oldest structure on N Michigan Ave. and is on the U.S. National Register of Historical Places. What’s not to like about the Gothic Revival structure? Especially the ivy: 

The interiot wasn't too shabby either: 

Just down the street was the historic Chicago Water Tower:

I feel like I’ve done a pretty good job of retracing my steps and remembering the moments and stories behind these images and this trip. The trip was in September of 2016 and it too me until late March 2017 to sit down and actually blog all of this. That said, I honestly cannot remember the details about this next image/building…

...but I enjoyed the shift of light to shadow from one facade to the other.

Oak Park - Frank Lloyd Wright 

Here we are, the final leg of the race, the final chapter of this trip to Chicago. I loved Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater as a nine year old. I picked up a little book about it in a mid-day school learning program and was hooked. I just thought it was the coolest design; the trays of space, the nature wrapping itself in and around the house. I went home that day and asked my mom if we had any spare cardboard. She inquired as to why. I wanted to make a little model house. I cut out various strips of cardboard, stacked and glued them together mimicking the look of Fallingwater. Aside from drawing and doodling as most children do, I can say that, that day was the first time I was creatively inspired. 

Naturally, while in Chicago, I made a stop to the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio in Oak Park. Before reaching the home (which was a bit of a walk, I’ll admit), I captured a few street details:

Love locks. Again. After Paris, I’m realizing how big a phenomenon this is. Still cool each time: 

The walk took me by Scoville Park where there is a very nice WWI Memorial: 

It was  another good 1/2 mile of walking, but I finally arrived: 

Frank Lloyd Wright’s home and studio in Oak Park epitomizes his design sensibilities that transformed American residential architecture during his career. A column detail at the entrance:

He was all about built-in features and exposed natural wood (among many other distinctive design ideas) and this entry parlor was a good example. Take a seat: 

A great inscription on the cabinetry above the entry hearth:

Light and shadow. The window of the children’s study created a great feeling/scene:

Let's eat! A beautiful dining room: 

Intentionally dark, this photo shows a view of a vase in a small bathroom window. This image was actually taken from a bedroom down the hall. I don’t know how many things like this he planned but I enjoyed being able to see a pocket of light in one space, while standing in another on the opposite end of the house:

The nursery space providing more feeling of the way light played throughout the house: 

Elaborate skylights in hallways, and windows in the children’s playroom:

After touring the home, the studio wing was next. Interesting skylight to start: 

Rolls of drawings. I know that sight very well: 

The receptionist's desk had two pretty cool details. First, a stone engraving of children signing, the second, another elaborate stained glass skylight:

The final room of the tour...Wright's office. Designed in the shape of an octagon with built-in pin-up space for drawings it was known that if a client entered the room, they weren't going to leave without agreeing with the architect's grand design ideas:

Such and incredible way to end a great trip and experience in Chicago. I'll be back for the Jordan Statue...


Oh yeah, I mentioned in the beginning that "deep dish pizza" was one of my goals for the trip. I made a stop on Monday at the South Loop location of Geno's East. Yum: 


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