In August of 2005, Debbie and I took a drive from New Jersey to Chicago. We started out from Bayonne early in the morning on Saturday, August 27. We drove across I-80 through Pennsylvania (what a drive that was). We continued into Ohio, going past Cleveland and west along the Ohio Turnpike to Fremont and the Hayes Presidential Center (home and burial place of President Rutherford B. Hayes, 19th President). We spent the night in Sandusky, Ohio. The next morning, we continued our drive west through Toledo and into Indiana. We stopped in South Bend and walked around the University of Notre Dame. After lunch, we continued on our way through Indiana and into Chicago.

skyline          Chicago is the third most populous city in the United States with 2,862,244 residents in 234 square miles. It has a number of nicknames like the "Second City," the "Windy City," the "City of Big Shoulders" and "Chi-town." Chicago is located along the southwestern shore of Lake Michigan at an altitude of 587 ft. When combined with its suburbs and nine surrounding counties in Illinois, Wisconsin and Indiana, the greater metropolitan area known as Chicagoland encompasses a population of nearly 10 million people.

           Since the first steel-framed high-rise building was constructed in the city in 1885, Chicago has been known for the skyscraper. Today, many high-rise buildings are located in the downtown area, notably in the Loop and along the lakefront and the Chicago River. The three tallest buildings in the city are the Sears Tower (also the tallest building in North America), the Aon Center and the John Hancock Center.

          Along Lake Shore Drive, parks line the lakefront. The most notable of these parks are Grant Park, which borders the east end of the Loop near our hotel, the north side Lincoln Park and the south side Jackson Park in the Hyde Park neighborhood. Interspersed within this system of parks are beaches, a zoo and several bird sanctuaries, McCormick Place Convention Center, Navy Pier, Soldier Field and the Museum Campus.

          The main European ethnic groups are the Irish, Germans, Italians and Polish. Chicago has a large Irish American population on its South Side. Today, Chicago has the largest ethnically Polish population outside of Poland. Chicago has the largest population of Swedish Americans of any city in the U.S. After the Great Chicago Fire, many Swedish carpenters helped to rebuild the city, which led to the saying 'the Swedes built Chicago'. Chicago is also considered to be the secondoldest Serbian and Lithuanian city in the world, as well as the third largest Greek city in the world.

skyline          Chicago is home to many universities within its city limits and nearby areas. While some of these institutions are primarily located outside of central Chicago, many have downtown branches. The city is home to the University of Chicago in Hyde Park on the near South Side and Northwestern University in nearby northside suburb Evanston. The city is also home to several Catholic universities including Loyola University and depot University, Chicago's largest private institution.

          During our trip, we spent five days in Chicago and had a great time. We went to the theater to see "Wicked" and to the Second City Theater to see a comedy show. Of course, no trip to Chicago would be complete with a Cubs game at Wrigley Field.

         We arrived in Chicago during the afternoon of Sunday, August 28.
We drove to our hotel, the Congress Hotel on Michigan Avenue off West Congress Parkway. It was a little difficult getting there at first, but we made it. The Congress Hotel was originally designed and built to accommodate visitors to the World's Columbian Exposition back in 1893. In 1912, former President Teddy Roosevelt’s comment to the local media coined the famous “Bull Moose” nickname for his newly created Progressive Party.  In 1932, the hotel was the command post for President-elect Franklin Roosevelt and the Democrats. During the summer of 1952, a national television audience was given a first-hand impression of the Congress Hotel when the Republican Credentials Committee met in the Gold Room.

skyline        It has had a number of presidents stay there. In fact, the Congress Hotel was once known as the “Home of Presidents” among Chicago hotels. Presidents Grover Cleveland, William McKinley, Teddy Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, Woodrow Wilson, Warren Harding, Calvin Coolidge and Franklin Roosevelt had rooms here. In 1971, nearly 3,000 people packed the Great Hall when President Richard Nixon addressed the Midwest Chapters of the AARP and National Retired Teachers Association.

          In the photo at left, the Congress Hotel is the white building just to the right of center (there is a sign with large red letters on the top).

In it's day, the Congress Hotel must have been magnificent. Today, it could use a bit of a make-over. The carpets look worn and the walls could use some paint. Our room was on the 8th floor was nice enough with a view looking out over Lake Michigan. After, we were not in the room very much. Debbie was not very happy with the Front Desk who she thought were rude. The lobby is quite impressive looking like it was done up from the 19th Century with Italian mosaics and arches. It even has a large stone fountain in the center and throne. The only real unpleasant thing was while we were here, there was a strike going on with people picketing in front all the time (housekeepers, dishwashers, bartenders and other employees are engaged in one of the longest-running ongoing strikes in the country). However, it's location was great and we enjoyed our stay. However, I don't think I would return until the strike was settled.

          In the left of the above photo is the historic and opulent Hilton Chicago on South Michigan Ave. Built in 1927, this 25-story hotel has 3,000 rooms. The hotel was featured in the 1993 movie The Fugitive starring Tommy Lee Jones and Harrison Ford. The hotel's Grand Ballroom, decorated in the French Renaissance style, is seen first when Dr. Richard Kimble (Ford) confronts badguy Dr. Charles Nichols (Jeroen Krabbe) in the ballroom in front of hundreds of well-dressed extras. The movie continues at a high pace as Samuel Gerard (Jones) chases Ford up to the roof and down into the massive three-floor laundry room. Debbie and I took a much casual stroll through the hotel from one end to the other (we never went to the roof or the laundry room).

          Across the street from our hotel on Michigan Avenue (to the right of it in the above picture) is the 238-ft historic Auditorium Building. Ferdinand Peck, a Chicago businessman, wanted to develop the world's largest, grandest and most expensive theater that would rival such institutions as the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City. He was said to have wanted to make high culture accessible to the working classes of Chicago. He hired the renowned architectural firm of Dankmar Adler and Louis Sullivan to design the building. The outside was built with massive granite walls on the first three floors with limestone above. In the center of the building was a 4,300 seat auditorium, originally intended primarily for production of Grand Opera. Housed in the building around this central space were 136 offices and a 400-room hotel, whose purpose was to generate much of the revenue to support the opera. When completed, it was the tallest building in the city. Strangely enough, the plans for the building was changed while it was being built causing the center of the building to settle 36 inches.

            On October 5, 1887, President Grover Cleveland laid the cornerstone for the Auditorium Building. The 1888 Republican National Convention was held in a partially finished building where Benjamin Harrison was nominated as a presidential candidate. The Chicago Symphony Orchestra debuted on October 16, 1891 and made its home in the Auditorium Theatre until moving to Orchestra Hall in 1904.  The inaugural performance in the Auditorium was the opera Romeo and Juliet on December 10, 1889. Theodore Roosevelt gave his famous Bull Moose speech in 1912 at the Auditorium and was nominated for President of the United States by the independent National Progressive Party.

            The hotel didn't do well because they initially had only one bathroom for every ten guest rooms. The theater closed during the Great Depression and during World War II, it housed serviceman. By 1946, Roosevelt University moved into the Auditorium Building, but the theater was not restored.  In 1952 part of the ground floor was destroyed to open a sidewalk arcade, making room for a widened Congress Avenue. On October 31, 1967 the Auditorium Theater reopened and through 1975, the Auditorium served as Chicago's premier rock venue with performances by The Who among others. In 1987, the theaters lobby and staircase doubled for the posh Lexington Hotel, home of infamous gangster Al Capone (played by Robert DeNiro), in the film The Untouchables. In 2001, a major restoration of the Auditorium Theatre was begun to return the theater to its original colors and finishes.

History of Chicago

John Baptist Point du Sable          
During the mid 1700s, the Chicago area was inhabited primarily by Potawatomis, who took the place of the MiamiSauk and Fox who had controlled the area previously. The name Chicago originates from "Checagou" (Chick-Ah-Goo-Ah) or "Checaguar" which in the Potawatomi language means 'wild onions' or 'skunk'. The area was so named because of the smell of rotting marshland wild leeks that used to cover it. The first non-native settler in Chicago was Jean Baptiste Point du Sable, a Haitian of African descent, who settled on the Chicago River in the 1770s and married a local Potawatomi woman. In 1795, following the Northwest Indian War, the area of Chicago was ceded by the Native Americans in the Treaty of Greenville to the United States for a military post. In 1803, Fort Dearborn (next to the modern day site of the Michigan Street bridge) was built and remained in use until 1837, except between 1812 and 1816 when it was destroyed in the Fort Dearborn massacre during the War of 1812. The Ottawa, Ojibwa, and Potawatomi ceded the land to the United States in the 1816 Treaty with the Ottawa, etc.

August 12, 1833, the Town of Chicago was incorporated with a population of 350. Within 7 years the town had a population of over 4,000. Chicago was granted a city charter by Illinois on March 4, 1837. The opening of the Illinois and Michigan Canal in 1848, allowed shipping from the Great Lakes through Chicago to the Mississippi River and so to the Gulf of Mexico. The first rail line to Chicago, the Galena & Chicago Union Railroad was completed the same year. Chicago would go on to become the transportation hub of the United States with its road, rail, water and later air connections. Chicago also became home to national retailers offering catalog shopping using these connections like Montgomery Ward and Sears, Roebuck and Company.

          Due to the geography of Chicago, early citizens faced many problems. The prairie bog nature of the area provided a fertile ground for disease-carrying insects. Early on, Chicago's population and commerce growth was stymied by lack of good transportation infrastructure. During spring Chicago was so muddy from the high water that horses would be stuck, past their legs in the street. 

          Early Chicago was also plagued by sewer and water problems. Many people described it as the filthiest city in America. To solve this problem Chicago embarked on the creation of a massive sewer system. In the first phase sewage pipes were laid across the city above ground with gravity moving the waste. Then in 1855 the level of the city was raised four to seven feet, with individual buildings jacked up and fill brought in to raise streets above the swamp and the newly laid sewer pipes.

            By 1857 Chicago was the largest city in what was then known as the Northwest. In a period of twenty years Chicago grew from 4,000 people to over 90,000.

            In 1871, most of the city burned in the Great Chicago Fire. The damage from the fire was immense; 300 people died, 18,000 buildings were destroyed and nearly 100,000 of the city's 300,000 residents were left homeless (more on this below). The fire led to the incorporation of stringent fire safety codes that included a strong preference for masonry construction. Unfortunately, the soft, swampy ground near the lake proved unstable ground for tall masonry buildings, a situation which led directly to the use of steel frames and the invention in Chicago of the skyscraper.

            While at the time the fire damage was devastating, history has shown that it proved to be a benefit to the city and surrounding communities. The building boom that followed saved the city's status as the transportation and trade hub of the Midwest. Massive reconstruction using the newest materials and methods catapulted Chicago into its status as a city on par with New York and established the city as the birthplace of modern architecture in the United States

         The deeply polarized attitudes of labor and business classes in Chicago prompted a strike by workers lobbying for an eight-hour work day. A peaceful demonstration at the Haymarket on the near west side was interrupted by a bomb thrown at police; seven policemen died. A group of anarchists were tried for inciting the riot, convicted; several were hung and others pardoned. The episode weakened the labor movement as it acquired a reputation for violence.

          Lake Michigan — the primary source of fresh water for the city — was already highly polluted from the rapidly growing industries in and around Chicago; a new way of procuring clean water was needed. In 1900 this problem was solved by reversing the direction of the Chicago river's flow with the construction of the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal.

Al Capone          During the "Roaring' Twenties", Chicago became infamous for it's mobsters. The Prohibition Era conflict between two powerful criminal gangs; the South Side Italian gang led by Al "Scarface" Capone (right) and the North Side Irish/German gang led by George 'Bugs' Moran, fought for control of Chicago. The St. Valentine's Day massacre in 1929, which led to the deaths of seven members of Moran's gang at 2122 N. Clark Street in the North End, marked the end of Moran's power in Chicago, enabling Capone to take over the city; however, the event also brought the belated and full attention of the federal government to Capone and his criminal activities. This was ultimately Capone's downfall, for it led to his conviction on income tax evasion and imprisonment on Alcatraz in 1931.

          On December 2, 1942, the world's first controlled nuclear reaction was conducted at the University of Chicago as part of the top secret Manhattan Project.

Richard Daley          Mayor Richard J. Daley (at left) was elected in 1955, in the era of so-called machine politics. During Daley's tenure (he died in office in 1976), the 1968 Democratic National Convention was held in Chicago, four major expressways were built, the Sears Tower became the world's tallest building and O'Hare Airport (which later became the world's busiest airport) was constructed. In 1983, Harold Washington became the first black mayor of Chicago. Richard M. Daley, son of Richard J. Daley, became mayor in 1989.

           New projects during the younger Daley's administration have made Chicago larger, environmentally friendlier, and more accessible. Since the early 1990s, Chicago has seen a turnaround with increased ethnic diversity and many formerly abandoned neighborhoods starting to show new life. As a part of its environmentally friendly image, Chicago has declared Peregrine Falcon, a protected species that started to build its nests in Chicago skyscrapers, the official bird of the city in 1999. Since Mayor Richard M. Daley has taken office in 1989, the City of Chicago has also enjoyed a resurgence in tourism.

           Today, the greater metropolitan area known as "Chicagoland" encompasses a population of nearly 10 million people.

Chicago Architecture


            Chicago is world famous as a center of architectural innovation that has influenced and reflected the history of American architecture. Chicago features prominent buildings in a variety of styles by many important architects. Since most buildings within the downtown area were destroyed (the most famous exception being the Water Tower) by the Great Chicago Fire in 1871, new buildings had to be constructed. Since they were new, Chicago buildings are noted for their originality rather than their antiquity. Another by-product of the fire was a ban on wood as a building material. Buildings were now made of steel and terra-cotta, both durable and fire resistant. Beginning in the early 1880s, the Chicago School (Chicago architecture) pioneered steel-frame construction and the use of large amounts of glass. These were the first modern skyscrapers. In 1892, the Masonic Temple surpassed the New York World Building (demolished in 1955), breaking its two year reign as the tallest skyscraper, only to be surpassed itself two years later by another New York building. American architect Louis Sullivan (1856 - 1924), realizing that the skyscraper could be used to create a new form of architecture, discarded historical precedent and designed buildings that emphasized their vertical nature. Since he was based in Chicago and many of his buildings were built there, this new form of architecture became known as the "Chicago School." Later, Frank Lloyd Wright developed his distinctive Prairie School of architecture here.

Sears Tower

Sears Tower            The first thing Debbie and I did was take a trip to the top of the Sears Tower. It was one of the sights on our Go Chicago Card. The Sears Tower on South Wacker Drive is in the midst of Chicago's financial district and an easy walk from our hotel. Completed in 1974, The Sears Tower became the tallest building in the world at 1,708 feet high, passing the World Trade Centers in New York City. The 110-story building, which is covered with 16,000 bronze tinted windows on a black aluminum frame, has the appearance of being black.  We got there early and didn't have any wait. We took the elevator, which travels at a speed of 1,600 feet per minute, to the Skydeck. The glass enclosed Skydeck is on the 103rd floor (1,353 ft) making it the third tallest observation deck in the world. It was a clear day so we had an almost limitless view.

          The Skydeck was featured in the movie
Ferris Bueller's Day Off. In the movie, Matthew Broderick, Mia Sara and Alan Ruck lean against the windows to get the 'full' view.

          The Sears Tower lost it's title of Tallest Building in the World in 1998 to the
Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. Two years later in 2000, they added a 22-ft extension to one of the two broadcast antennas bringing it's height to 1,730 feet from base to tip of the antenna making it, at the time, the tallest free standing structure in the world. However, it does not have the tallest structural height in the world. That distinction goes to the Petronas Towers which is 1,483 ft tall to the 1,450 ft of the Sears Tower. This is important since most people do not consider broadcast antennas or flag poles as part of a buildings height. In 2004, with the opening of the Taipei 101 building in Taipei, Taiwan which stands at 1,671 ft, there is a new Tallest Building in the World. Though the Sears Tower still has the best antenna height at 1,730 ft. Scheduled to be completed in 2008, the Burj Dubai ("Tower of Dubai") in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, is widely expected to be the tallest building in the world with an incredible estimated height of 2,657 ft.

Chicago            Commissioned by Sears, Roebuck and Company, it was designed by chief architect Bruce Graham and structural Engineer Fazlur Khan of Skidmore, Owings, & Merrill. The designs for the Sears Tower is of nine steel unit tubes. The Sears Tower was the first building for which this design was used. Construction commenced in August 1970, and reached its maximum height on May 3, 1973. More than 110 concrete caissons anchored in bedrock support the towers weight of 222,500 tons. The Sears Tower also has the most total floor space (3.5 million square ft) of any building in the U.S. next to The Pentagon. It also has over 100 elevators.

       The photo here is from the Sears Building observatory looking north-east. The
R.R. Donnelley Building is in the foreground with the John Hancock Center and Lake Michigan in the back. The Chicago River is hidden from view by all of the tall buildings. To get an idea, the small red tower with the clock in the fore-ground of the picture is on the north bank of the river.
Sears Tower Sears Tower

Sears, Roebuck & Co. dropped in sales in the 1970's and the tower was never the draw it was expected to be. It remained half vacant for over a decade. By 1995, Sears had completely moved out of the building. It has since gone through a number of owners. Today, the Sears Tower is considered one of the finest locations for business in Chicago. It is now a multi-tenant office building with more than 100 different companies doing business there, including major law firms, insurance companies and financial services firms.

John Hancock Center

            Later in the week, we visited the other skyscraper on our Go Chicago Card, the 1,127 ft tall John Hancock Center, but known to Chicagoans as "The Hancock." Built by the John Hancock Insurance Company, when it was completed in 1969, it was tallest building in the world outside of New York City. Today it is the third tallest skyscraper in Chicago and the fourth largest in the United States, after the Sears Tower, Aon Center and Empire State Building and 16th tallest in the world. The 100-story building is home to offices and restaurants, as well as more than 700 condominiums on 49 floors giving it the distinction of having the highest residences in the world.

John Hancock Center John Hancock Center John Hancock Center
The Hancock Center from the plaza
on N. Michigan Ave.
The Hancock Center with the Water
Tower and the Water Tower Plaza
The Hancock Center from the corner
of N. Michigan and E. Chestnut St.

          The Hancock Center, on North Michigan Avenue, is located in a commercial district (Chicago's Magnificent Mile) unlike the Sears Tower which is located two miles away in the financial district. We took an elevator up to The Hancock Center's 94th floor observation deck called The Hancock Observatory. The observatory displays exhibits about the city of Chicago.
Maps explain the view in each direction and a special meshed in area allows the visitors to feel the winds 1,000 feet above ground level.

Debbie cleaning the wondows          Of course, Debbie had to go outside and clean the windows. Actually, this is one of two photo ops that they have in the observatory.

           The building, which was the setting of the film Poltergeist III, has a distinctive X-bracing exterior. The X-bracing, designed by the architectural firm of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill (one of the largest architectural firms in the United States who also designed the Sears Tower), allows for both higher performance from tall structures and the ability to open up the inside floor plan. There is a fine dinning restaurant on the 95th floor called "The Signature Room" where you can get a grilled Angus porterhouse for $48.00. However, we didn't get a chance to experience it. The restaurant is featured in the 1981 comedy Continental Divide when John Belushi's character (based on the late Chicago Sun-Times columnist Mike Royko) has a fancy dinner with Blair Brown's character.

        In front of the building is a below street level elliptical-shaped plaza with a 12-foot waterfall. There are a number of restaurants here including the "Cheesecake Factory" where Debbie and I stopped for lunch before going up in the tower.

Aon Center

Aon Center            Another skyscraper in Chicago is the Aon Center on East Randolph Street across the street from Millennium Park. I had never heard of it before my trip, but with 83 floors and a height of 1,136 ft, it is the second largest skyscraper in Chicago, third in the United States and 14th in the world. It was the tallest building in Chicago from 1973 to 1974 when it was surpassed by the Sears Tower. It is still the tallest building in the world without any major antennae or spires at the top. On a architecual tour of Chicago, we learned that the Aon Center was originally built, it was the world's tallest marble-clad building.

        Eventually, the harsh Chicago climate caused the building's Carrara marble (the same marble used in Michelangelo's David) sheathing to fail and detach from the building. From 1990 to 1992, at a cost of about $80 million, the entire building was refaced with white granite at a cost of half the original price of the whole structure. Originally named the Standard Oil Building (often called "Big Stan"), it was officially renamed the Amoco Building when that company changed its name in 1985. When the building was sold in 2001, it officially became known as the Aon Center (it was sold again in 2003 for $465,000,000).

          In the photo, the Aon Building is on the right and the One Prudential Plaza is on the left. In the foreground is the
Millennium Monument at the north-west corner of Millennium Park (more below).

Smurfit-Stone Building

Smurfit-Stone Building         Diagonally across from the Millennium Monument in Grant Park, on the corner of Randolph and Michigan, is another of Chicago's signature skyscrapers called the Smurfit-Stone building (popularly referred to as the Diamond Building). Originally called the Stone Container Building, it's somewhat smaller then it's neighbors at 575 feet. However, what it lacks in height, it more than makes up for in style. Its gleaming white exterior is accented with dark pinstripes of windows. Its orientation embraces nearby Lake Michigan. Built in 1984 on the site of the John Crerar Library, it's unique characteristic is it's slanted roof, possibly symbolizing sailboats on the lake. Unlike other buildings with slanted roofs, like the Citicorp Center in New York, the 41-story Smurfit-Stone building slant is on an angle, creating a diamond shape in the skyline seen from most of the shoreline. In fact, it isn't even a simple diamond, but rather two nearly identical triangles set a different heights (the angle of the photo doesn't really show it - another photo above of the skyline has a better angle). The diamond-shaped outline glows at night, making it recognizable among the forest of skyscrapers in the Chicago skyline. At times, the roof, which has also been likened to a skyscraper slashed with a knife, displays local sports slogans on its face, such as "GO BEARS" and "GO CUBS".

        Three years after its completion, the building played a central role in Touchstone Pictures 1987 hit film, Adventures In Babysitting starring Elisabeth Shue.
In a famous scene a 10-year-old girl, played by Maia Brewton, who admires the comic book hero Thor (played by Vincent D'Onofrio of "Law & Order: Criminal Intent"), escapes the bad guy by climbing through an open window and onto the face of the Smurfit-Stone Building. After the movie is over, you get one last look at the bad guy still dangling outside the building. Thus, many Chicagoans refer to the building as the "Adventures in Babysitting building."

One Prudential Plaza

Two Prudential Plaza            One Prudential Plaza (formerly known as the Prudential Building) is a 44 story structure completed in 1955 as the headquarters for Prudential's Mid-America company. At the time, the skyscraper was significant as the first new downtown skyscraper built in Chicago in 21 years (the last such building was the Field Building, now headquarters of LaSalle Bank, completed in 1934). When the Prudential was finished, it had the highest roof in Chicago with only the statue of Ceres on the Chicago Board of Trade being higher.

                                                                            Two Prudential Plaza

Two Prudential Plaza, or "Two Pru," (picture at right) was built in 1990. At 995 feet tall, it is the fifth-tallest building in Chicago and the tenth tallest in the United States. The 64-floor building was designed by the firm Loebl, Schlossman & Hackl, with Stephen T. Wright as the principal in charge of design. It has also been honored with 8 awards. At the time of completion Two Prudential was the world's second tallest reinforced concrete building. Its distinctive shape features stacked chevron setbacks on the north & south sides, a pyramidal peak rotated 45°, and an 80-foot spire.  The building has a terraced one-acre plaza on its west side with fountains and landscaping. The building is attached to One Prudential Plaza.

Tribune Tower

Tribune Tower            The Tribune Tower is a Gothic building located on the east side of North Michigan Avenue next to the Chicago River. It is the home of the Chicago Tribune newspaper and the Tribune Corporation. WGN Radio (720 AM) also broadcasts from the building, with ground-level studios overlooking nearby Pioneer Court and Michigan Avenue. The 462 ft neo-Gothic building, with buttresses near the top, is a Chicago landmark. In 1922, the Chicago Tribune hosted an international design competition for its new headquarters and offered a $50,000 prize for "the most beautiful and eye-catching building in the world". The competition was won by Raymond Hood (who would later build the Rockefeller Center in New York) and John Howell won the first place with their gothic design modeled after the Button Tower of the Rouen Cathedral in France. The building features carved images of Robin Hood (Hood) and a howling dog (Howells) near the main entrance to commemorate the architects. The tower is lit up at night.

            Prior to the building of the Tribune Tower, correspondents for the Chicago Tribune brought back rocks and bricks from a variety of historically important sites throughout the world. Many of these reliefs have been incorporated into the lowest levels of the building and are labeled with their location of origin. The collection of rocks got its start in Ypres, France. In 1941, McCormick was touring a cathedral. He came upon a piece of stone that was damaged by German shelling, when he took a piece for himself. Stones included in the wall are from such sites as the White House, Taj Mahal, the Parthenon in Athens, Edinburgh Castle, the Great Pyramid at Giza, Westminister Abbey in London, Fort Sumter, Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris, Houses of Parliament, Colosseum in Rome, St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna (where Mozart was married), the Great Wall of China, St. Peter's Cathedral in Rome, the Berlin Wall and on and on. In all, there are 136 fragments in the building. More recently a rock returned from the moon was displayed in a window in the Tribune giftstore (it could not be added to the wall as NASA owns all moon rocks, and it is merely on loan to the Tribune) and a piece of steel recovered from the World Trade Center has been added to the wall.

Wrigley Building

            The Wrigley Building is an easily recognized icon of Chicago and one of it's most attractive buildings. Located on the west side of Michigan avenue next to the Chicago River and across Michigan Avenue from the Tribune Tower. When ground was broken for the Wrigley Building in 1920, there were no major office buildings north of the Chicago River and the Michigan Avenue Bridge, which spans the river just south of the building, was still under construction. The land was selected by chewing gum manufacturer William Wrigley Jr. to headquarter his gum company. The architects used the shape of the Seville Cathedral’s Giralda Tower in Spain combined with French Renaissance details. The south tower (30 stories) was completed in April 1921 and the north tower (21 stories) in May 1924. Walkways between the towers were added at the ground level and the third floor. In 1931, another walkway was added at the fourteenth floor. On the south tower is a clock with faces pointing in all directions. Each face is 19 feet 7 inches in diameter. The building is glazed in terra-cotta, which provides its gleaming white façade. At night, the building is brightly lit with floodlights. The Wrigley Building was Chicago’s first air-conditioned office building. If you walk through the center doors, you will find yourself in a secluded park area overlooking the Chicago River.

Wrigley Building Wrigley Building Wrigley Building
The Wrigley Building (left) and the
Tribune Tower (right) from Wacker Drive across the Chicago River
The Wrigley Building from across
N. Michigan Ave.
The Wrigley Building (left) and the
Tribune Tower (right) from the Michigan Street Bridge looking north

          The site the building rests on is historical. It was on this spot that Jesuit missionary Jacques Marquette and explorer Louis Joliet made their first portage from the Great Lakes in the 1670's. It was here that LaSalle planted the French flag in 1682.

The Water Tower

            The 154 ft. Water Tower was built in 1869 on North Michigan Avenue (or what is Today called "The Miracle Mile") to bring water to the nearby homes. Water would be pumped to the top of the tower. The supply of water at this height was sufficient to pressurize a water supply system. The tower was built of limestone blocks in a Gothic style that makes it look like a castle. The Great Chicago Fire of 1871 spread this far up N. Michigan Avenue. Along with the adjacent pump station (built in 1866), the water tower survived the fire that destroyed everything around it. It is one of the only buildings within the fire district to survive. Today there is a small park next to it that provides shade to shoppers on MIchigan Avenue. The base of the tower houses a gallery for photography. The pumping station across the street, which still pumps water (250 million gallons a day) also has a Visitor Information Center. Behind it is Water Tower Place, a 74 floor skyscraper built in 1976 (currently the 8th largest building in the city).

Water Tower Water Tower Water Tower
The Water Tower on N. Michigan Ave.
The Hancock Building
behind the Water Tower
Close up of the details
on the Water Tower

 The Great Chicago Fire

              The Great Chicago Fire was a conflagration that burned from October 8 to the 10 in 1871, killing hundreds and destroying several square miles in Chicago, Illinois. Though the fire was one of the largest U.S. disasters of the 19th Century, the rebuilding that began almost immediately spurred Chicago's development into one of the most populous and economically important American cities.

             The fire started at about 9 p.m. on Sunday, October 8, in a barn behind the O'Leary house at 137 DeKoven Street. The best-known story of the fire is that it was started by a cow kicking over a lantern in the barn owned by Patrick and Catherine O'Leary. Though this story is highly disputed today. Catherine O'Leary, being a Catholic immigrant, became a scapegoat for the fire. There are many other theories that believe there were other people in the barn who may have started the fire by accident.

           When the fire broke out, neighbors hurried to protect the O'Leary's house which, ironically, survived with only minor damage. However, the city's fire department didn't receive the first alarm until 9:40 p.m., and strong winds were blowing from the southwest, toward the heart of the city. Soon the fire had spread to neighboring frame houses and sheds. Superheated winds drove flaming brands northeastward, and the fire crossed the south branch of the Chicago River by midnight. Helping the fire spread was ample fuel in the closely packed wood buildings, ships lining the river, the city's elevated wood-plank sidewalks, and the commercial lumber and coal yards along the river. The size of the blaze generated extremely strong winds and heat, which ignited rooftops far ahead of the actual flames.

Chicago Fire          As it raged through the central business district the fire destroyed hotels, department stores, Chicago's City Hall, the opera house and theaters, churches and printing plants. The fire continued spreading northward, driving fleeing residents across bridges over the Chicago River. The blaze leapt over the river's north branch and continued burning through homes and mansions on the city's north side. Residents fled into Lincoln Park and to the shores of Lake Michigan, where thousands found refuge from the flames.

         The artist's drawing shows "The Rush for Lives Over Randolph Street Bridge." Despite the picture, the building to the left of the bridge, the recently built Lind Block, actually was the only building in the area to survive.

          The fire finally burned out, aided by diminishing winds and a light drizzle that began falling late on Monday night. From its origin at the O'Leary property it had burned a path of near complete destruction for some 48 blocks to Fullerton Avenue on the north side. Eventually it was determined that the fire destroyed an area about four miles long and averaging 3/4 mile wide, encompassing more than 2,000 acres. This area included more than 73 miles of roads, 2,000 lampposts, 17,500 buildings and $222 million in property, about a third of the city's valuation. Out of 300,000 inhabitants, 100,000 were left homeless. Remarkably, some buildings did survive the fire, such as the then-new Chicago Water Tower, which remains today as an unofficial memorial to the fire's destructive power. It was one of only five public buildings spared by the flames within the disaster zone; another was Holy Family Church, the Roman Catholic congregation of the O'Leary family.

fire damage         After the fire, 125 bodies were recovered. Final estimates of the fatalities ranged from 200-300, considered a small number for such a large fire. In later years, other disasters in the city would claim more lives: 571 died in the Iroquois Theater fire in 1903; and, in 1915, 835 died in the sinking of the Eastland excursion boat in the Chicago River. Yet the Great Chicago Fire remains Chicago's most well-known disaster, for the magnitude of the destruction and the city's subsequent recovery and growth.

          Land speculators and business owners quickly set about rebuilding the city. Donations of money, food, clothing and furnishings arrived quickly from across the nation. Only 22 years later, Chicago hosted more than 21 million visitors during the World's Columbian Exposition. In 1956, the remaining structures on the original O'Leary property were torn down for construction of the Chicago Fire Academy, a training facility for Chicago firefighters.

          The photo at right shows the fire damage from the Southwest Corner of Dearborn and Monroe streets. Today, skyscrapers occupy this spot in the middle of the Loop.

The Chicago River

Architecture River Cruise

The Chicago River           One of the things that we had on our GoChicago Card was a cruise on the Chicago River called the Architecture River Cruise run by Shoreline Sightseeing. We boarded a boat near the Navy Pier and headed for a one hour cruise along the Chicago River. Our guide had an excellent knowledge of the buildings we would be passing on the river which made the tour even more interesting, not to mention the dozen bridges along the way. The Chicago River has 45 movable bridges spanning it, down from a one-time high of 52 bridges. These bridges include several different types, including trunnion bascule, scherzer rolling lift, swing bridges and vertical lift bridges.

          This photo is of the Michigan Avenue bridge heading west into Chicago. The tall black building in the center is the IBM Building. When finished in a couple of years, the Trump International Hotel and Tower will block the view of this building.

          Every year on St. Patrick's Day, the river is dyed green. The Pipefitters Union uses fluorescent dye which can also be used to study moving water. Back in 1962, 100 pounds of dye were used, however, more recently the amount has been decreased to about 40 pounds.

Chicago River           The 156 mile long Chicago River has an interesting history by itself. In the early days of Chicago raw sewage and pollution from Chicago's booming industrial economy flowed from gutters into the river. The water, with the waste, flowed into Lake Michigan. From there it entered the Chicago water supply intact pipes. The people of Chicago were constantly plagued by typhoid fever, cholera and dysentery.  In 1854, a cholera epidemic took the lives of 5.5% of the population. Deaths from typhoid fever between 1860 and 1900 were high with the the worst year being 1891 when thousands died. Disease resulting from water polluted by human waste in the Chicago River, which was known by many local residents as "the stinking river", brought about a state of emergency.

          This photo is of the LaSalle Street Bridge looking east. Marina City is on the left, the
R.R. Donnelley Building is on the right and the Wrigley Building is in the distance.

          They kept moving the water intake pipes further out into Lake Michigan, but it didn't always stop the bacteria from getting into the water supply. So, in 1887, a radical engineering feat was decided on. They would reverse the flow of the river from east to west. To do this, they built a 28 mile canal from the Chicago River to the Mississippi River. Completed in 1900, the waste from Chicago flowed away from Lake Michigan towards the Mississippi River. Up through the 1980's, the river was quite dirty and often filled with garbage; however, during the 1990's, it underwent extensive cleaning as part of an effort at beautification by Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley. Recently there have been talks of restoring the Chicago River's natural easterly flow into Lake Michigan.

Centennial Fountain            Our tour boat entered the Chicago River under Lake Shore Drive. The first thing you come to is the Centennial Fountain. We walked here after the cruise. I, as some of you know love water fountains, and this is a really good one. It was built on the northern bank of the river near the intersection of McClurg Court and North Water Street. Centennial Fountain commemorates the 100th anniversary of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Chicago, and is located near the site of the public agency's most historic achievement, the reversal of the flow of the Chicago River. The fountain consists of two major parts: a semicircular waterfall and basin, and an enormous water arch which shoots across the Chicago River during warm months at hourly intervals (the first 10 minutes of each hour). On our return trip, we had to wait until the fountain stopped. With the water shooting across the river, any boat passing under would surely get wet.

             After passing the Columbus Avenue bridge (one of the newer ones - built in 1982), we came to the Michigan Avenue Bridge. Built in 1920, as two parallel bridges that operate independently of one another. It is one of the first examples of a fixed trunnion bascule bridge (A bascule bridge, like the Tower Bridge in London, is a drawbridge with a counterweight that continuously balances the span, or "leaf", throughout the entire upward swing to provide clearance for boats), which later became widely known as a "Chicago style bascule". When it was completed it was the main link between the north side and downtown. It is a double-deck double-leaf bascule with a main span length of 220 feet. Almost all of the bridges over the Chicago River are bascule bridges. It is the most famous bridge in Chicago. It sits on the site of Jean Baptiste Point du Sable farm on the northern bank and Fort Dearborn on the southern bank. On the north side of the bridge is the Wrigley Building and the Tribune Tower.

             Continuing along the river, we passed the site where Donald Trump is building his new tower. At the time we passed, they were still excavating along the base of the river and hadn't started the foundation yet. The old Chicago Sun-Times building (built in the 1950's) used to be there, but it was demolished in the Spring and Summer of 2005, just before we arrived. They are building the 1,362 feet tall Trump International Hotel and Tower which will have 92 floors of hotels and condominiums making it one of the tallest buildings in Chicago. The tower is between the Wrigley Building and the IBM Building next to the Wabash Avenue Bridge. The building, which drew a lot of disdain from our architectural tour guide, was very controversial. It went through a couple of designs before the final one was decided upon (the first design had multi-tiered silver-glass giant that, it was written, didn't so much soar into the sky as squat along the Chicago River. The second one looked too much like the Sears Tower.) The buildings will have three different levels (called setbacks) that will be at the same height as three neighboring buildings; one will match the cornice on the 30-story Wrigley Building, the second will be the same height as the 588 ft. Marina City, and the third is at the top of the 695 ft. IBM Building across the street (an uninspiring black looking monolith). There was a report that Donald Trump had decided to increase the height of the spire to 1,484 Ft., to make it the tallest skyscraper in North America. Being built at a cost of $750 million, it should be finished in 2008.

35 East Wacker Drive          Across the river from the IBM Building, built in 1973 (which IBM sold back in 1996), is a 523 ft. historic office building, formerly known as Jewelers Building, Pure Oil Building and the North American Life Building, today it's simply  known by it's address, 35 East Wacker Drive (photo at right). Built in 1927, the 40-story building was the tallest outside of New York City at the time of its construction. Though built in the midst of the Art Deco movement, its form and decorative flourishes are clearly influenced by Roman, Greek and Gothic architecture. Through its dome, spires, copulas, turrets and arched windows, it  manages to combine differing styles to create an intricate visual delight.

             It was created for the city’s diamond merchants and had an unusual security procedure. To reduce the chances that its tenants would be mugged walking between their cars and their offices, the building featured a central auto elevator. People would drive into this elevator and there were parking garages on the second through twenty-second floors. Jewelers loaded down with gems wouldn’t have to be exposed to a potentially hostile environment. The lift was removed in the 1940's.

            During prohibition, the dome at the top of the building housed Al Capone's notorious speakeasy, the Stratosphere Club. The sand-colored terra cotta building has been described as a 'confection' because of it's resemblance to a birthday cake. Outside of the building, a 6-ton clock with a gilded bronze figure of Father Time hangs over the sidewalk on the corner of Wacker Drive and Wabash Avenue. The building is featured in 2005's Batman Begins, were Batman is seen perched on one of the turrets rising at the corner of the dome's base.

          In the photo,
35 East Wacker Drive is on the right. This is the intersection of N. State and E. Randolph streets. In the foreground is the Chicago Theatre on N. State street, another famous landmark in Chicago. The theater is host to stage plays, magic shows, comedy performances, speeches and musical concerts. Designed in the classical revival-French Baroque style by architects Cornelius W. Rapp and George L. Rapp. When it opened on October 26, 1921, it was called “the Wonder Theatre of the World.” Opening night had Norma Talmadge on screen in the silent movie The Sign on the Door and it only cost 50 cents if you came to the evening performance.

           The Chicago Theatre was the first large, lavish movie palace in America and was the prototype for all others. It was built with an elegant lobby (modeled after the Royal Chapel at Versailles)
, a majestic staircase (patterned on the Paris Opera House) and a beautiful auditorium, complete with murals above the stage and on the ceiling. The theater's exterior features a miniature replica of Paris’ Arc de Triomphe, sculpted above its State Street marquee. Faced in a glazed, off-white terra cotta, the triumphal arch is sixty feet wide and six stories high. Within the arch is a grand window in which is set a large circular stained-glass panel bearing the coat-of-arms of the Balaban and Katz chain (the original owners), two horses holding ribbons of 35-mm film in their mouths. The 3,600 seat auditorium is seven stories high, more than one half of a city block wide, and nearly as long. The vertical sign "C-H-I-C-A-G-O," at nearly six stories high, is one of the few such signs in existence today.  A symbol of State Street and Chicago, the sign and marquee are landmarks in themselves, as is the 29-rank Wurlitzer theatre pipe organ.

             Because of the decline of the surrounding area, the Chicago Theatre closed in 1985. However, the Chicago Theatre Restoration Associates saved the theatre from demolition and spent almost a year renovating it.

Marina City            After we passed under the State Street Bridge, next to the IBM Building on the north bank, we came to Marina City (seen in the right of the photo). Many people are familiar with the buildings from the opening sequence of the old Bob Newhart Show which included a shot of Marina City. Built in 1964, it consists of two corncob-shaped 61-story residential towers adjacent to the river. Beneath the raised platform at river level is a small marina for pleasure craft giving the building it's name. When it was finished the complex was billed as a "city within a city", featuring numerous on-site facilities including a theater, gym, swimming pool, ice rink, bowling alley, several stores and restaurants and of course, a marina. Marina City was the first urban post-war high-rise residential complex in the United States and is widely credited with beginning the residential renaissance of American inner cities.

            Each residential tower is an identical 61 floors in height. The bottom 19 floors of each tower is an exposed spiral parking ramp. Marina City apartments are unique in having almost no interior right angles. On each residential floor, a circular hallway surrounds the elevator core with 16 pie-shaped wedges arrayed around the hallway. Apartments are comprised of these triangular wedges. Bathrooms and kitchens are located nearer to the "point" of each wedge, towards the inside of the building. Living areas occupy the outermost areas of each wedge. Each wedge terminates in a 175-square-foot semi-circular balcony, separated from living areas by a floor-to-ceiling window wall. Because of this arrangement, every single living room and bedroom in Marina City has a balcony.

            When it was finished in 1964 and for the next four decades, residents had great views of Chicago and Lake Michigan. However, many of the great views have been and continue to be lost with the current explosion of high-rise construction around Marina City. The complex has also been in two motion pictures; in the movie The Hunter, Steve McQueen's character is in a car chase through the Marina City parking garage and in the movie I, Robot, Marina City can be seen for about 10 seconds in the background when Will Smith's character checks out the scene of Dr. Laning's death.

R.R. Donnelley Building          Continuing along the river under the Dearborn Street Bridge, we next came to the 668 ft. R.R. Donnelley Building
on the south bank. Constructed in 1992, the 49 floor skyscraper has an exterior of silver glass and Portuguese white granite. While many skyscrapers lack a 13th floor because of superstition, this one lacks a 49th floor in order to elevate the top occupied level to "50". The top of the building, which has a four-pedimented roof (not very common with skyscrapers) is a take on classical Greek temples. This is one of the better looking skyscrapers (in my opinion). It has a number of famous sculptures in it's lobby and the building is well lit up at night. The building was also the location of the movie The Negotiator, starring Samuel L. Jackson and Kevin Spacey.

Chicago River         
The next bridge is the Clark Street Bridge (in photo). After passing under it, we came to a infamous spot on the south bank between the Clark and LaSalle Streets bridges (the spot can be seen in the left side photo between the two bridges). It was the site of one of the worst disasters in maritime history. It was here, on July 24, 1915, that the excursion boat Eastland, while still tied to the dock, next to the Clark Street bridge, and loading passengers (employees from Chicago's Western Electric Company) for a day excursion across Lake Michigan to Indiana, became top heavy and rolled over in the river killing 841 passengers, mostly Czech ("Bohemian') immigrants and 4 crew members. There is a plaque on Wacker Drive commemorating the disaster.

         In the right of the above picture is the seven-story Reid Murdoch Center
. Between the Clark and LaSalle Streets bridges, it is distinctive with it's red brick façade and clock tower. Designed by George C. Nimmons, it was built in 1914, for the Reid, Murdoch & Company building (it's original name). It's riverside location was important as ships with deliveries were able to dock and unload directly into the building. The building was originally used as a warehouse, food processing center and office building for a wholesale grocery company. When the Eastland disaster, the building was used as a makeshift hospital and rescue center as hundreds of injured were treated and deceased were temporarily kept (photo).

          Across the river from the
Reid Murdoch Center is a new building under construction. The Waterview Tower, a skyscraper condo-hotel on Wacker Drive, is across the street from and adjacent to the R.R. Donnelley Building. The tower is being built on the site where a parking lot has been for over 30 years. Slated for completion in 2009, it will be the 5th tallest building in Chicago (and the 3rd tallest residential building). The building will be 1,047 feet tall and contain 90 floors for various uses when completed and will be the first U.S. location for Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts, a five-star 200 room hotel.

Chicago River          As we passed under the LaSalle and Wells Street bridges, we came close to the split in the river (seen in photo). Here, on the north bank, is the second largest commercial building in the world, The Merchandise Mart (seen in the left side of photo -
the Franklin Street Bridge is in the foreground of the photo). The Art Deco building, which spans two city blocks, was constructed in 1930 on the site of Chicago's old Wells Street Station. It's purpose was to centralize Chicago's wholesale goods trade by consolidating its vendors and activities under one roof.  Today, The Merchandise Mart is an architectural design center. Throughout the year, it hosts trade shows and market events giving architects the chance to view the latest in residential and commercial design and services.

          In 1945, the Merchandise Mart was purchased from Marshall Field by Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr. In 1953, Kennedy commissioned eight bronze busts to be sculpted which would come to be known as the Merchandise Mart Hall of Fame: Frank Winfield Woolworth,
Aaron Montgomery Ward, Julius Rosenwald, Robert Elkington Wood (the last two were involved with Sears, Roebuck & Co.), John Wanamaker, Edward Albert Filene, Marshall Field and George Huntington Hartford (founder of A&P Stores). All of the busts face north, apparently looking at the building. When Debbie and I strolled past the building, we were able to see the busts close up.

The lobby of the The Merchandise Mart, as well as the exterior of the building, appeared in the 1994 movie The Hudsucker Proxy, starring Paul Newman and Tim Robbins, as the interior of the Hudsucker Company headquarters (which was actually set in New York City).

           The next bridge is the Franklin Street Bridge which was built in 1919 (photo above and below). This drawbridge was featured in Batman Returns (they filmed a lot of Batman Returns in this area of Chicago) as the bridge that connects Gotham City with the Narrows. The batmobile is seen crossing it more then once.

Chicago River          After passing under the Franklin Street Bridge, we came to the split in the river. At this point, we turned north on the Chicago River. We passed an old out of use drawbridge (seen in photo) kept in the up position and sailed to the Kinsie Street Bridge (background of photo) before turning around. There are a number of homes with tree-covered patios overlooking the river here (in right of picture).

            It was this point in the river in 1992 that the Chicago Flood occurred when a pile driven into the river punctured a hole in the wall of the long abandoned tunnel of the Chicago Tunnel Company near Kinzie Street. Most of the 60 mile network of underground freight railway, which encompasses much of downtown, was eventually flooded along with the lower levels of buildings it once serviced and attached underground shops and pedestrian ways.

Franklin Street Bridge           After turning around, we then went south on the Chicago River towards the Sears Tower. Here you can see the trains that pass underneath the city going in an out of Union Station on the west bank. There are a number of bridges along this span of the river also. On the east bank, at the bend is 333 West Wacker Drive.

             The photo shows the north end of the Franklin Street Bridge (with only a Chicago taxi - no Batmobile) in the foreground and
the 333 West Wacker Drive building in the center of the background.

            This 487 ft. building marks the northwest corner of Chicago's "Loop". Built in 1983, it is one of the most popular all-glass skyscrapers in the world. The main feature of this 36-floor office tower is the great blue-green curve of glass that it presents to the northwest, follows the curve in the river as the river splits into its Northern and Southern branches, that changes shades depending on the sun and water. In posters for the film The Truman Show, the curved wall was portrayed in a photomontage as a giant television screen. The building is also seen in Batman Begins.

          Next to the building, on the other side of the Lake Street Bridge, on the southeast corner of Lake Street and Wacker Drive, was the site of a
two-story pine-board auditorium known as "The Wigwam" (so named because of its hasty and flimsy construction). It was the first structure to be built exclusively for a nominating convention and could seat 10,000 people. Built in 1860 on the site of Chicago's Sauganash Hotel, which burnt down in 1851, it was the location of the 1860 Republican National Convention that nominated Abraham Lincoln for the presidency and Hannibal Hamlin for the vice-presidency. The Republican met here in 1864, during the Civil war to re-nominate Lincoln and Andrew Johnson. In 1868, the densely-packed crowd caused a platform to collapse. Historians cannot determine if "The Wigwam" burned in the Great Fire of 1871 or burned down at some earlier time. The 1872 Republican National Convention, which nominated Ulysses S. Grant for the presidency, was moved to the smaller Crosby's Opera House. The Chicago City Council has placed a commemorative bronze plaque where "The Wigwam" stood.

          We then passed under the Randolph Street Bridge. The original Lake and
Randolph Street bridges were a major escape route for people fleeing downtown Chicago to the east during the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. The Randolph Street Bridge is relatively new, having been constructed in 1984.

          Further south on the river, we past the back of the Civic Opera House. It is the home of the Lyric Opera of Chicago, one of the leading opera companies in the United States. The front of the building on wacker Drive is an ornate French Renaissance Revival-style, with a two-story portico and pedestrian colonnade. However, the side that faces the river resembles a Art Deco giant armchair. Its 12-story "seat" (with few windows) is the back of the 3,563-seat opera house (second largest in North America), its 22-story "arms" are office annexes and its 45-story "back" is the office tower. Critics at the time referred to the building as "Insull's throne," in reference to its builder, utility magnate Samuel Insull.

311 South Wacker Drive building          A few more blocks south is the Sears Tower. Across Jackson Boulevard from the Sears Tower is the 311 South Wacker Drive building (on the left in the photo). A 65-floor skyscraper built in 1990 (at 961 ft. it is the 6th tallest building in Chicago and the 13th tallest in the United States) has a octagonal main shaft clad in pink granite from Texas. It is said to be the tallest building in the world known only by its street address. Aside from Sears, there are few nearby towers tall enough to compete with it. Another tower planned for this plot of land is still just a drawing, and as of this writing the space where it will go is a community park. Plans for other skyscrapers on nearby blocks are also on hold, and with no serious competitors to the south, this building dominates the landscape, marking the southern edge of the Loop skyscraper forest.

            The building's top is a large cylinder surrounded by four smaller cylinders. The five cylinders on top are lit at night by 1,852 fluorescent tubes, creating a light bright enough to compete with the full moon. It is the most visible Chicago skyscraper at night, as its "crown" is brightly illuminated. The "crown" is actually a very large representation of the engagement ring given by the architect to his wife. Referred to informally by some Chicagoans as "The White Castle Building", since the building's crown does resemble the rook found on signs for the fast food chain, White Castle. Other local nicknames include "The Wedding Cake Building" and "The Bart Simpson Building" both of which refer to the lighted crown. The front lobby is a large two-level winter garden with glazed palm trees and an 86-foot high glass roof. Raymond Kaskey's bronze sculpture "Gem of the Lakes" looks over the winter garden
from the Wacker entrance. It depicts a large Neptunian figure drying himself over a seashell fountain. Our tour boat continued south to the Roosevelt Bridge before turning around for the return trip.

The Chicago Spire

Chicago Spire           The building of skyscrapers in Chicago doesn't seem to end. Originally called the Fordham Spire, the Chicago Spire, was originally a 1,600 tall 115-story combined hotel and residences skyscraper with a 400 ft. broadcast antenna mast for a combined height of 2,000 ft. After the project ran into some financial problems, Irish developer Garrett Kelleher of the Shelbourne Development Group stepped in and took over the project (he also owns the Irish football club St Patrick's Athletic FC who plays in the Football League of Ireland Premier Division). Since that time, the designed was altered and the name was changed. Changes included the removal of the hotel and antenna mast and making the building 150 floors of condominiums.

            They broke ground on July 25, 2007 (their website has a great introduction film). Their goal is to have it ready for occupants in 2011. The Chicago Spire, designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava (who designed the World Trade Center Transportation Hub in New York City) at 2,000 ft. tall would surpass the Sears Tower and New York's Freedom Tower (which is to be 1,776 ft. tall) as America's tallest tower. It will also surpass the height of the CN Tower in Toronto to become North America's tallest free-standing structure. The skyscraper is going up north of the Chicago River along the city's lakefront west of Navy Pier and next to the elevated Lake Shore Drive (as can be seen in this artist rendering I found online) in the Streeterville neighborhood.

            The Chicago Spire, which to me resembles a gigantic drill bit, would have 1,200 condominiums priced from $600,000 to $5,000,000. It will have a four-story lobby. The curved design, similar to that of Calatrava's Turning Torso in Malmö, Sweden, may provide two major benefits to the structure of the building. First, curved designs have a tendency of adding to the strength of a structure. In addition to structural support, the curved face of the exterior will minimize wind forces. There is a plan to create a viewing deck, but unlike the Sears Tower or the Hancock Building, it would not be for the general public but only for residents. Though most people seem happy with the new building there are some who oppose it. Donald Trump, for one, immediately came out against this building saying it would be a target for terrorists though it may be that he doesn't like the competition to his 'new' Trump International Hotel and Tower. The builders are also finishing the development of nearby DuSable Park.

The Miracle Mile

The Miracle Mile         The first night we were in Chicago we set out to explore on foot. We started at our hotel on Michigan Avenue and walked north. We walked across the Michigan Avenue Bridge into the North Side. Most of this area was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1871. During the 1880's, it was settled by German, Irish and Swedish immigrants. By the 1900's, it was a major traffic artery and with the opening of the Michigan Avenue Bridge in 1920, the retail boom began. This stretch of North Michigan Avenue has been dubbed, "The Miracle Mile" and is the most prestigious shopping district in Chicago. It got it's nickname back in 1947 when a local real-estate developer thought it would one day be big. After crossing the bridge (photo at left) we strolled past the well-lit Wrigley Building and continued north along Michigan Avenue towards the Hancock Building on the other end.

        After passing the Tribune Building, we came to the Hotel Inter-Continental Chicago. Originally this was the Shriners' Medinah Athletic Club. Built in the 1930's, it is topped with a large onion-shaped gilt dome. In 1990 it was renovated as a hotel. Inside there are a number of themes; Egyptian, Medieval and Renaissance with different rooms that reflect the themes, like the King Arthur foyer. We were told that the pool on the 11th Floor is named after swimmer/actor Johnny Weissmuller.

       There are many stores along Michigan Avenue like; the Coach Store, Cartier, Burberry, Van Cleef & Arpels, Brooks Brothers, Tiffany's, Talbot's, Gucci, BulgariLouis Vuitton, Fogal and teuscher Chocolates of Switzerland. Debbie enjoyed the huge Crate & Barrel on the corner of E. Erie Street. The store had four floors with an escalator.

       On another day we stopped in Chicago Place. Located at 700 N. Michigan Avenue, it has a number of specialty shops and a large food court on the top floor where we could get something to drink. The Food Court has a great view of Michigan Avenue below and an interesting water fountain running through the middle of it.

       Across Michigan Avenue from the Hancock Building is Fourth Presbyterian Church. The original church was dedicated in 1871 and burnt down that night during the Great Fire. The new church, built in 1914, was the first major structure built on Michigan Avenue after the fire. Designed by the same architect who designed St. John the Divine Cathedral in New York City, the church is done in Greek Revival style and looks much like a European church. It has a covered walkway and an inner garden giving it a cloister feel.

        We eventually arrived at the Drake Hotel. Built in 1920, in the Italian-Renaissance style, the 527-room hotel is associated with luxury and Chicago. The lobby, paneled in marble and oak has huge chandeliers, red carpets and a large water fountain. It also has a six-room Presidential Suite, several restaurants, two large ballrooms and the "Palm Court", a club-like secluded lobby. They advertise traditional English 'High Tea' here.
Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe carved their initials into the wooden bar of the Cape Cod Room and Winston Churchill was once a guest here.

        In the movie Mission: Impossible, the mere mention of having "a room at the Drake" impresses Jon Voight's co-workers. Scenes from the movies Risky Business (where Tom Cruise and Curtis Armstrong's characters drink some high-priced hot chocolate in the Palm Court of the Drake while waiting for Rebecca DeMornay to arrive), My Best Friend's Wedding (where Julia Robert's character had a room) and Continental Divide along with some others were filmed at the hotel. The Drake formed a dramatic backdrop for the movie Hero when Andy Garcia's character is talked out of jumping off a ledge of the Drake by Dustin Hoffman's character.

        The total walk from our hotel to the Drake was 1.7 miles and we still had to walk back (a good two and a half miles walk roundtrip).

Lake Michigan

Lake Michigan             Another of the things that we had on our GoChicago Card was the Shoreline Sightseeing Skyline Cruise on Lake Michigan. We decided to to this on our first full day in Chicago since the weather was so pleasant. After going to the top of the Sears Tower, Debbie and I walked to the Navy Pier to catch the excursion boat (about a 2.3 mile walk). When we arrived at the Navy Pier we got our tickets. While we waited, we had lunch, a couple of Chicago style hot dogs.

              The boat departs from Navy Pier West. We cruised for a half-hour out on Lake Michigan along the shore of Chicago. It was very enjoyable, the sun was shinning and their was a cool breeze coming in off the lake. The boat sails from the Navy Pier south to where the Shedd Aquarium is and back.

             Lake Michigan is one of the five Great Lakes of North America, and the only one in the group located entirely within the United States; Lake Michiganthe others are shared with Canada. It is bounded, in a clockwise direction from the south, by Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan. The word "Michigan" was originally used to refer to the lake itself and is believed to come from the Ojibwa Indian word mishigami, meaning "great water."

          Lake Michigan has a surface area of 22,300 square miles, making it the largest freshwater lake in the US, the largest lake entirely within one country and the 5th largest lake in the world. It is 307 miles long by 118 miles wide and has an average depth of 279 ft, while its greatest depth is 925 ft. It contains a volume of 1,180 cubic miles of water. Its surface averages 577 feet above sea level, the same as Lake Huron, to which it is connected through the Straits of Mackinac to the north.

          From the boat, we could see the steel mills in Indiana off to the south. We could see skylineacross the lake, but couldn't make out the far shore of Michigan (I'm told it's there) about 115 miles away. About three miles out into the lake, are the water intake towers for the Chicago water system.

          The Navy Pier, which the boat sails from, was built back in 1916 and extends about 3,000 into Lake Michigan (a good view of it s in the large picture at the top of this webpage). The pier was constructed to accommodate package freight vessels, excursion steamers, warehouses and public entertainment, and had its own streetcar. You can see the ferris wheel on the Navy Pier in the right of the picture here.

          The rise of motor vehicles led to the pier's disuse in the 1930s, and during World War II, the U.S. Navy began using the pier for training. At this time, its name was changed to Navy Pier. When the war
Navy Pierended, the pier was sold to the University of Illinois. In 1965, the University moved to the Chicago Circle campus and the pier again fell into disuse.

          In 1976, Navy Pier began its third life as an area for public exhibits, when the East Buildings (furthest into Lake Michigan) were opened as exhibition halls. Major renovation and construction followed in the 1990s, resulting in the pier's current layout with restaurants, shops, museums, ballrooms, concert and exhibition halls, auditoriums and a 150-foot-tall Ferris wheel. The Navy Pier also hosts an IMAX theater, the Chicago Shakespeare Theater, the Chicago Children's Museum and the Smith Museum of Stained Glass Windows. Along with a Food Court there are a number of restaurants including; a franchise of the Billy Goat Tavern (became famous when it served as inspiration for a Saturday Night Live skit featuring the late comic actor John Belushi - here you can order a 'Cheezborger'), Bubba Gump (inspired from the movie Forrest Gump), Charlie's Ale House, Capi's Italian Kitchen, Dock Street Café, Joe's Be-Bop and the RIVA / RIVA Café (seafood). It is also used as an embarkation point for tour and excursion boats along with larger boats used for dinner cruises on the lake.

            In the future, there are plans for a major renovation of the pier which would include a monorail, a larger Ferris wheel and a water park with a Great Lakes theme.

 Chicago Sports

Cubs logo        The Chicago Cubs of the National League play in the second-oldest major league stadium, Wrigley Field, located in the north side neighborhood of Lakeview. The Cubs are famous as "loveable losers" whose fans are nevertheless famously dedicated. The Cubs are the oldest team to play continuously in the same city since the formation of the National League in 1876. They have won 10 National League pennants and two World Series titles. Some famous players who wore a Cub uniform include Ernie Banks, Ryan Sandberg, Ferguson Jenkins, Mordecai "Three Finger" Brown and Bruce Sutter along with the famous double-play combination; Joe Tinkers, Johnny Evers and Frank Chance.

White Sox logo             The Chicago White Sox of the American League won the World Series championship in 2005, their first since 1917. Police estimated 1.75 million fans turned out to cheer on the victory parade. The White Sox are a charter member of the American League which began in 1901. They won 6 American League pennants and 3 World Series titles in their history. Among the many Hall of Famers who wore a White Sox uniform were Luke Appling, Eddie Collins, Ted Lyons, Ed Walsh, Hoyt Wilhelm and Red Faber. In 1991, they left Comiskey Park, their home for 81 years to move into a brand new stadium, today called U.S. Cellular Field.

Bears logo           The Chicago Bears football team has had some of the best-loved and most famous NFL personalities, including owner George Halas, players Dick Butkus, Gale Sayers, Jim McMahon, the legendary Walter Payton and coach Mike Ditka. The Bears play in Soldier Field on the city's lakefront. Before there were Super Bowls, the Bears, also called "Da Bears" (from a Saturday Night Live skit), won 8 NFL Championships (1921, 1932, 1933, 1940, 1941, 1943, 1946 and 1963). In 1985, the Bears went 15-1, dominated the playoffs, and dismantled the Patriots 46-10 in Super Bowl XX. After playing in Wrigley Field for 49 years, the Bears moved to Soldier Field (named in honor of American soldiers who died in wars), on the Lakefront, in September of 1971. Soldier Field, which opened in 1924, was closed in 2003, so a "new" Soldier Field could be built. It reopened on September 27, 2003.

         The Chicago Black Hawks are one of the National Hockey League's original six teams. Founded in 1926, the Black Hawks played in Chicago Stadium from 1929 until 1994. The Stadium was famous for being one of the loudest arenas in the NHL, helped by the fabled Barton organ, it was affectionately called, "The Madhouse on Madison (Street)". The Black Hawks made it to the Stanley Cup finals 10 times, hoisting the Cup three times. They won their first in 1934 (over the Red Wings) and again in 1938 (over the Maple Leafs). Their last Stanley Cup victory was won in 1961 (again over the Red Wings). The Black Hawks made it to the finals in 1991, but were swept by the Pittsburgh Penguins. After the Black Hawks and the Bulls moved across the street in 1994 to the new The United Center (after their corporate sponsor United Airlines), the old Chicago Stadium was torn down in 1995. Some famous players who wore a Black Hawk uniform were Bobby Hull, Tony Esposito, Stan Mikita and Glenn Hall.

Bulls logo         The Chicago Bulls of the NBA are arguably the most recognized basketball team in the world, thanks to the heroics of a player often cited as the best ever, Michael Jordan, who led the team to six NBA championships in eight seasons in the 1990's. Founded in 1966, the team has seen all it's success in one decade. Since it's last championship in 1998, the Bulls have made the playoffs only twice, both times eliminated in the first round. The Bulls played in the Chicago Stadium until it moved to the United Center in 1994. Other famous Bulls include George Gervin, Robert Parish, Nate Thurmond and Scottie Pippen.

Chicago Fire logo        The Chicago Fire is a professional soccer club that participates in Major League Soccer. The club was founded October 8, 1997 on the 126th anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. The Fire won the MLS Cup in 1998, their first season in the league. It also won the 1998, 2000, and 2003 editions of the US Open Cup. The Fire played at Soldier Field from 1998 to 2001. It played at North Central College's Cardinal Stadium in 2002, before moving back to the remodeled Soldier Field late in October 2003. The Fire moved into brand new Toyota Park at 71st and Harlem Avenue in Bridgeview, Illinois in 2006.

Baseball Fields and Parks

         Chicago has two baseball teams that played in historical baseball parks. One of the parks is still around and the other is just a memory. Debbie and I got a chance to visit them both.

Wrigley Field

Wrigley Field        Before leaving for Chicago, I bought two tickets for a Cubs game online. So, on game day, Debbie and I headed to the nearest train station. We, along with hundreds of faithful Cubs fans, took the Red Line train up to Addison Station. The station is next to Wrigley Field, the second oldest active major league ballpark (behind Fenway Park in Boston), and the only remaining Federal League park. At the conclusion of games the scoreboard operators will raise to the top of the scoreboard either a white flag with a blue "W" to signify a Cubs victory, or a blue flag with a white "L" to signify a loss to let passengers on the train heading home from the Loop passing through the Addison Station to know the outcome of the game.

       Located in the residential neighborhood of Lakeview, Wrigley Field is surrounded by Clark and Addison Streets and Waveland and Sheffield Avenues. The area of close proximity to the ballpark containing bars, restaurants and other establishments is typically referred to as Wrigleyville. Also, as every fan of the movie The Blues Brothers knows, the ballpark's mailing address is 1060 W. Addison Street. During Cubs games, Cub fans will stand on
Waveland Avenue, waiting for home runs literally hit out of the park. However, as a tradition, Cub fans -- whether inside Wrigley Fieldor outside the park -- will promptly return any home run ball hit by an opposing player by throwing it back onto the field of play. Wrigley Field is nicknamed "The Friendly Confines", a phrase popularized by "Mr. Cub", Hall of Famer Ernie Banks.

        We walked around the park a bit before going in. We had good seats on the first base side. The Cubs were playing the Los Angeles Dodgers who they had lost to the night before. Perhaps we brought luck, but the Cubs pulled off a win this night. The fans are very much into the game and we got a chance to hear the Cubs fight song, "Go Cubs Go", sung by a couple of well inebriated fans who were sitting in front of us. The food there is great, Chicago hot dogs and fries. Another surprising thing is that the food at Wrigley is no where as expensive if you were in a New York stadium.

       Wrigley Field, with an original seating capacity of 14,000 and cost $250,000 to build, opened in 1914 as Weeghman Park. It was built for the Chicago Federal League baseball team, the Chicago Whales. After the Federal League folded in 1915, the field became the home of the Chicago Cubs in 1916. It did not become Wrigley Field until 1925 when it was named after the teams owner, chewing gum magnate William Wrigley, Jr. For years, Wrigley Field was known for two things, the ivy covered outfield walls (planted in 1937) and the fact it had no lights and only played day games.

Wrigley Field         Lights were scheduled to be added to Wrigley Field in 1942, but after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, then-owner Philip K. Wrigley (son of the late William) donated the materials intended for lighting Wrigley Field to the war effort. So, day games became a tradition at Wrigley. The City of Chicago even passed an ordinance banning night events at Wrigley Field. Pressure from Major League baseball, like having to play any playoff games at other parks, made the Cubs consider moving to another stadium in  the late 1980's. The city relented an repealed their ordnance in 1988. The first major league night game at Wrigley was on August 9, 1988 against the New York Mets, ending a streak of 5,687 consecutive home day games.

       Another interesting feature of Wrigley are the winds. At no other current major league ballpark does the weather affect game play as much as at Wrigley Field. In April and May the wind often comes off Lake Michigan (less than a mile to the east), which means a northeast wind "blowing in" to knock down potential home runs and turn them into outs. In the summer, however, the wind often comes from the south and the southwest, which means the wind is "blowing out" and has the potential to turn normally harmless fly balls into home runs. A third variety is the cross-wind, which typically runs from the left field corner to the right field corner and causes all sorts of interesting havoc.

       Since Wrigley Field is surrounded by city streets. many local houses with rooftops that are higher then Wrigley's outfield walls provide "freebies" to people.

Wrigley Field
Wrigley Field

       While at Wrigley Field, the Cubs won six pennants (1918, 1929, 1932, 1935, 1938 and their last one in 1945) sometimes in thrilling fashion, such as 1935 when they won a record 21 games in a row in September or in 1938 when they won a crucial late-season game with a walk-off "Homer in the Gloamin'" by their catcher and future Hall of Fame star Gabby Hartnett. However, somehow they have never won a World Series at Wrigley as they fell to their American League rivals each time, often in humiliating fashion. The Cubs, known also as "Lovable Losers", have the longest dry spell between championships in all of the four major sports leagues (MLB, NFL, NHL and NBA), having failed to win a World Series since 1908. The Chicago Cubs did win two World Series, but they were in 1907 and 1908 when they played in West Side Park (torn down in 1920). In game 4 of 1945 World Series, the "Curse of the Billy Goat" was laid upon the Cubs when Mr. Wrigley ejected Mr. Sianis, who had come to game 4 with two tickets, one for him and one for his goat. Upon his ejection, Mr. Sianis uttered, "the Cubs, they ain't gonna win no more." The Cubs, who were playing the Detroit Tigers, lost game 4 and World Series and have not been back since then.

Wrigley Field Wrigley Field

        Of course, there is new hope for the diehard Cub fans as 2004 saw the Boston Red Sox win their first World Series in 86 years and then in 2005 the cross town rival White Sox won their first World Series in 88 years. They better hurry, because in 2008 they will be at 100 years without a World Series championship.

Comiskey Park

         The Chicago White Sox played in Comiskey Park for decades. It was opened in 1910 and was very modern for its time, being constructed of concrete and steel and seating 29,000, a record at the time. Briefly, it retained the nickname "The Baseball Palace of the World." The park's design was strongly influenced by Sox pitcher Ed Walsh, and was known for its pitcher-friendly proportions (362 feet to the foul poles, 420 feet down the middle). It was named after the White Sox owner, Charles Comiskey (1859 - 1931). The White Sox moved there from wooden South Side Park. The first game in Comiskey Park was a 2-0 loss to the St. Louis Browns (current Baltimore Orioles) on July 1, 1910. From the 1970's until its demolition in 1991, Comiskey was the oldest park still in use in Major League Baseball. One of its more ignominious events was Disco Demolition Night, a fiasco that threatened instead to demolish the ballpark itself. Comiskey Park was famous for it's pinwheel covered exploding centerfield Monster Scoreboard installed by legendary owner Bill Veeck in 1960 (they would have fireworks whenever a White Sox hit a home run).

Comiskey Park       While playing at Comiskey Park, the White Sox won 3 American League pennants (1917, 1919 and 1959). In 1917, the defeated the New York Giants in the World Series, 4 games to 2, winning all three at Comiskey. However, it was the one in 1919 that the White Sox became known for. This was the infamous "Black Sox" team that conspired to throw the World Series to the underdog Cincinnati Reds. Eight White Sox players, including Eddie Cicotte and "Shoeless" Joe Jackson, were involved, to varying degrees, in a plot by gamblers to "fix" the World Series. The events were depicted in the 1988 movie Eight Men Out, based on the 1963 book of the same title, starring David Strathairn, Charlie Sheen, John Cusack and D.B. Sweeney.

        In 1959, the White Sox won its first pennant in 40 years, thanks to the efforts of several eventual Hall of Famers – Lopez, Luis Aparicio, Nellie Fox (the league MVP) and pitcher Early Wynn (Cy Young Award). Despite this, they lost to the Dodgers in 6 games. Although the White Sox had winning records every season from 1951 through 1967, the Yankees dynasty of the era often left the Sox frustrated in second place; they were league runner-up 5 times between 1957 and 1965. In their 81 year history in Comiskey Park, they won only one World Series there back in 1917. They won their first World Series in 1906 defeating their cross-town rivals, the Cubs, in six games when the team played in South Side Park. This was the only time the two teams met in a World Series (of course, when you look at their post season appearances, it's not to surprising).

       It is interesting that since 1920, although the White Sox have won fewer pennants than the Cubs or Red Sox (whose fans have been considered among the most angst-riddled fans in all of sports) as well as being responsible for perhaps the biggest scandal in baseball history, the White Sox' fan base has largely shrugged off their relative lack of success over the years, blaming it more on inferior teams, poor management and bad luck rather than some other-worldly "curse" (likes goats or bambinos).

       In the late 1980's, the franchise threatened to relocate to Tampa Bay (as did the San Francisco Giants), but frantic lobbying of the part of the Illinois governor and state legislature resulted in approval (by one vote) of public funding for a new stadium. Although designed primarily as a baseball stadium (as opposed to a "multipurpose" stadium) New Comiskey Park (renamed U.S. Cellular Field in 2003) was built in a 1960's style similar to Dodger Stadium. It was built across 35th street from the old Comiskey Park. At the time it was praised as being a wonderful new modern stadium. However, it was quickly overshadowed in the public imagination by the wave of "nostalgia" or "retro" ballparks, like Camden Yards in Baltimore and Jacobs Field in Cleveland. The White Sox played their last ever game at Old Comiskey Park on Sunday afternoon, September 30, 1990 defeating the Seattle Mariners by a score of 2-1.

U.S. Cellular Field          1991 was sad year for White Sox fans. Comiskey was demolished that year, a process that started from behind the right field corner and took all summer. Many fans found the demolition process as painful as losing a good friend. The last portion to come down, fittingly, was the center field bleachers and the "exploding" scoreboard. Today, the site is a parking lot for fans going to U.S. Cellular Field. They have placed a home plate where the original once was (as you can see in the picture). Debbie and I parked next to the lot and walked out to get this picture. Foul lines are painted on the lot. Also, the spectator ramp across 35th Street is designed in such a way (partly curved, partly straight but angling east-northeast) that it echoes the outline of part of the old grandstand. Many die-hard fans maintain websites like "Memories of Old Comiskey Park" dedicated to the old stadium (this one has a nice aerial view of the two stadiums side-by-side).

            When the Sox won the 2005 World Series, their victory parade began at U.S. Cellular Field, and then circled the block where old Comiskey had stood across the street, before heading on a route through various south side neighborhoods and toward downtown Chicago.

United Center            The United Center is a sports arena located on the west side of Chicago, named after its corporate sponsor, United Airlines, located on W. Madison Street, west of downtown Chicago. The United Center is home to both the Chicago Blackhawks of the NHL and the Chicago Bulls of the NBA. The arena claims to be the largest in the United States (in physical size, not in capacity; the arena seats 20,500 for hockey, 22,879 for basketball and up to 23,500 for concerts), and hosts over 200 events per year, drawing over 20 million visitors since its grand opening.

            The United Center's predecessor was the indoor Chicago Stadium, which was demolished after the newer arena opened for business on August 18, 1994.
The United Center was built across Madison Street from the old Chicago Arena. Chicago Stadium was on the site of the parking lot to the right of the United Center behind the row of trees in the above picture. The corner of the building in the center of the picture below (W. Madison and N. Wood Sts.) was where the white tower is in the above picture (I took this picture from the top of the Sears Tower).

Chicago Stadium            The Chicago Stadium was a famous and historic indoor arena in Chicago. Completed on March 28, 1929 at a cost of $9.5 million, Chicago Stadium was the largest indoor arena in the world at the time. The arena was the site of numerous historic events, including the first NFL playoff game in 1932 (moved inside and played on an 80-yard field due to inclement weather), the 1932, 1936, 1940 and 1944 Democratic National Conventions, and the 1932 and 1944 Republican National Conventions, as well as numerous concerts, boxing matches and political rallies. It also hosted the Chicago Blackhawks of the NHL from 1929-1994 and the Chicago Bulls of the NBA from 1968-1994. The venue was the site of the 1973 and 1988 NBA All-Star Games, and the 1948, 1961, 1974 and 1991 NHL All-Star Games. Also, in 1933, the site hosted the funeral of Chicago mayor Anton J. Cermak. The popular mayor had been shot and killed while shaking hands with President-elect  Franklin D. Roosevelt in Miami, Florida (thought to be an assassination attempt on Roosevelt, however some people claim that Cermak was the target all along because of his promise to clean up Chicago's rampant lawlessness posed a threat to Al Capone).

             The Stadium sat 17,317 for hockey at the time of closure. Standees were allowed for many years, and often the official attendance figures in the published game summaries were given in round numbers, such as 18,500 or 20,000. In addition to the close-quartered, triple-tiered, boxy layout of the building, much of the loud, ringing noise of the fans could be attributed to the fabled Barton organ that was played during hockey games there, earning it the moniker of "The Madhouse on Madison (Street)". This building had the enviable reputation as the loudest rink in the world. It was a place where you think every game was the seventh game of the Stanley Cup Finals. It was also the very last NHL-used facility to retain the use of an analog dial-type large four-sided clock for timekeeping in professional hockey games.

            The Blackhawks played their final regular-season game at the Stadium on April 14, 1994. Among those present were all four of the Hall of Famers whose jerseys had been retired: Stan Mikita, Bobby Hull, Glenn Hall, and Tony Esposito. The Blackhawks lost to Toronto 6-4, but advanced to the Stanley Cup playoffs against the same Maple Leaf team. Efforts to have the sixty-five-year-old arena declared an historic landmark and preserved for use as a secondary sports arena failed and demolition of the Stadium began in February of 1995.


              Chicago has a number of parks, most of them are grouped together on the waterfront. The most famous of these is Grant Park along the shore of lake Michigan. Our hotel , on Michigan Avenue, bordered the park. Grant Park's most notable features are Buckingham Fountain and the Art Institute of Chicago. Grant Park is frequently referred to as the city's front yard.

Grant Park

Buckingham Fountain             Grant Park's history began in 1835 when concerned residents of the Town of Chicago sought to protect an area of land along Lake Michigan from commercial development. The city officially designated the land as a park in 1844, naming it Lake Park. In 1871 much of the remains from the Great Chicago Fire were pushed into Lake Michigan, creating more land for the park. In 1901, it was renamed Grant Park in honor of American Civil War General, United States President and Illinois resident Ulysses S. Grant. The city has always prohibited any buildings in the park. The city made one exception to the ordinance in 1892 in order to construct the Art Institute of Chicago. After completion of a multi-million dollar renovation of Chicago's Museum Campus in 1998, Grant Park now includes the Adler Planetarium, Field Museum of Natural History and Shedd Aquarium (more on the museums below). The park also features Lake Shore Trail, a paved path running along Lake Michigan for the entire length of the park (just be aware of people on bicycles which also use the path). Grant Park is perhaps most famous as the scene of clashes between Chicago Police and demonstrators during the 1968 Democratic National Convention.

Buckingham Fountain

            Located in the middle of Grant Park, and next to our hotel, is Buckingham Fountain, constructed of Georgia pink marble, it is one of the largest fountains in the world. The fountain, which was designed by Jacques Lambert and modeled after the Latona Fountain in Louis XIV's gardens at Versailles Palace in France, was dedicated in 1927 as a gift to the city from Kate Sturges Buckingham in memory of her brother Clarence Buckingham. It was designed to represent Lake Michigan with four sea horses to symbolize the four states that touch the lake: Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana and Michigan.

Buckingham Fountain            It was the official starting point for the classic US highway Route 66 that ran to Los Angeles. The fountain runs from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Beginning at dusk, every hour on the hour for 20 minutes the fountain's major water display is accompanied by a light and music display. The final display of the evening begins at 10:00 p.m. The fountain contains 1.5 million gallons of water. During a display, more than 14,000 gallons per minute is pushed through the 134 jets up to 150 feet into the air. The bottom pool of the fountain is an amazing 280 feet in diameter, the lower basin is 103 feet, the middle basin is 60 feet and the upper basin is 24 feet. The lip of the upper basin is 25 feet above the water in the lower basin.

            The fountain is mostly known from the opening credits of the Fox Network sitcom Married... with Children. The area around the fountain is open.
There are not many places to sit to admire the fountain and mostly where you can sit is not in any shady area. However, it is fun just to watch the water. Be careful not to get to close if the wind should shift, unless you want to get drenched. Buckingham Fountain was victimized by an unusual theft. Some thieves stole two carved fish heads from the fountain, weighing several pounds each. The fish heads were recovered when a salvage place was offered the pieces and the buyer thought they looked very familiar and reported them to the police.

Millennium Park

            In 2004, a section of northern Grant Park was redeveloped and named Millennium Park. It borders Michigan Avenue and is a short walk from our hotel. The park was an idea of Mayor of Chicago Richard M. Daley and is considered the most ambitious public architectural project for Chicago since the Columbian Exposition of 1893. Planning began in October 1996, construction began in June 1999 and it was finally completed in July 2004. Millennium Park was opened in a ceremony on July 16, 2004 as part of a three-day celebration that included an inaugural concert by the Grant Park Orchestra and Chorus. 300,000 people took part in the grand opening festivities, surpassing the 50,000 expected.

Millennium Monument           Located on the northern corner of the park on Michigan Avenue and Randolph Street, the tree-lined area of Wrigley Square is an open space for visitors to relax on the lawn or stroll paths. The Square is anchored by the Millennium Monument (photo at left), a nearly full-sized replica of the original peristyle, a semi-circular row of Doric-style columns that rise nearly 40 feet, that stood in the same location between 1917 and 1953.

    Millennium Park features the McCormick Tribune Ice Skating Rink, Peristyle at Wrigley Square, Joan W. and Irving B. Harris Theater for Music and Dance, AT&T Plaza, Lurie Garden, Bank One Promenade and Trees in Millennium Park. There are three major artistic highlights: Cloud Gate, Crown Fountain and the Jay Pritzker Pavilion. Millennium Park is often considered the largest roof garden in the world, having been constructed on top of a railroad yard and large parking garages. Of its total 24.5 acres of land, Millennium Park contains 524,358 square feet of permeable area.

Pritzker Pavilion

            Pritzker Pavilion, a band shell designed by world-renowned architect Frank Gehry, is the centerpiece of Millennium Park. A Pritzker Architecture Prize honoree and National Medal of Arts winner, Gehry designed such landmarks as the Guggenheim Museum at Bilbao, Der Neue Zollhof in Düsseldorf and the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. Characteristic of Gehry, the Pritzker Pavilion consists of massive panels of stainless steel resembling the graceful blooming of a flower or the unfurling sails of a massive ship. The Pritzker Pavilion is the home of the Grant Park Music Festival, the nation's only remaining free, municipally-supported, outdoor, classical music series.

Pritzker Pavilion Pritzker Pavilion
Front view of the stage
Side view

            Winding eastward from Pritzker Pavilion is the only bridge in the world designed by Frank Gehry. The 925 foot pedestrian bridge, called BP Bridge, is made of the same steel as the bandshell with a hardwood deck. It winds like a fluttering ribbon (or a large snake) across nearby Columbus Drive, from the bandshell to a section of Grant Park along the lakefront (it looks like a skateboarders paradise).

Cloud Gate

Cloud Gate           One of the most interesting, at least the most photographed, feature of Millennium Park is the Cloud Gate. The sculpture is a 3-story, 110-ton steel sculpture that the Chicago public has taken an instant liking to it, affectionately referring to it as “the Bean.” The sculpture is the work of world-renowned British artist Anish Kapoor, over that of fellow artist Jeff Koons, and is the first of his public art in the United States. The piece was privately funded and the total cost was $23 million (up from the original estimate of $6 million). Initially, Kapoor hated the nickname "The Bean," but has since learned to love it.

            Cloud Gate, in the middle of AT&T Plaza, is a highly-polished reflective steel sculpture that is meant to resemble a drop of mercury hovering at the point of landing on a plaza of the park. The curved, mirror-like surface of the sculpture, measuring 66-feet long by 33-feet high, provides striking reflections of visitors, the city and the sky; since its installation, it has become one of the most popular sculptures in the city.

           So popular has the sculpture become that Chicago’s mayor declared May 15, 2006 (the day the sculpture was officially dedicated) to be “Cloud Gate Day”, and Orbert Davis, the Chicago-based jazz musician, composed a piece entitled “Fanfare for Cloud Gate”. The sculpture has also been used as a backdrop in commercial films (notably in the recent Hollywood blockbuster, The Break Up).

           A 12-foot-high arch provides a "gate" to the concave chamber beneath the sculpture, inviting you to touch its mirror-like surface and see your image reflected back from a variety of perspectives.
Somehow it has a magnetic pull for photographers who can't seem to get enough photos of it. I know, I almost used a whole roll of film on it. This photo at left gives the impression that Debbie and the park are floating inside a bubble.

Cloud gate Cloud Gate
Here is Cloud Gate looking towards Michigan Avenue
Here is a side view looking north

Cloud Gate Cloud Gate
You get great distorted reflections
Here is a view looking north-west

Cloud gate Cloud Gate3
I liked the distorted reflection of the sky here
Another view looking south

            In 1999, the steel plates for the piece were fabricated over a period of 2 years (2002-2004) in Oakland, California (by Performance Structures Inc.). Initially, the sculpture was to have been fully assembled in Oakland and shipped to Chicago via the Panama Canal and St. Lawrence Seaway. But this plan was scrapped after park officials deemed it too risky. Instead, the piece was assembled on-site.

Cloud Gate            Because the assembly fell behind schedule, the piece was temporarily uncovered for the opening of Millennium Park in July 2004. The public appreciation for the piece convinced park officials to leave it open for public view for several months. The piece was then re-tented for over a year to allow the seams between its metal plates to be polished out. The sculpture was finally completed and dedicated on May 15, 2006.

            Cloud Gate was originally envisioned to be placed at the southeast corner of the Lurie Garden, but park officials re-sited it to AT&T Plaza, where it is currently located.      

            There is also an outdoor ice skating rink in the park along Michigan Avenue, similar to the one in Rockefeller Center in New York City, called the McCormick Tribune Plaza and Ice Rink. Of course, it wasn't open when Debbie and I were there. In the summer, there are tables for an outdoor cafe.

Crown Fountain

Crown Fountain            Along Michigan Avenue is the Crown Fountain. It was designed by Catalan conceptual Spanish artist Jaume Plensa and is the first of its kind in the world. Transparent glass block bricks are used to build two 50-foot towers standing in the midst of a black granite plaza submerged under an eighth of an inch layer of water. Behind the glass bricks are high-tech LED video screens that when illuminated, scrolls through videos of the faces of nearly 1000 individual Chicagoans and showcases the vast diversity of the city while a stream of water cascades over the images.

            Playing on the theme of historical fountains based around gargoyles with water coming through the opened mouth of the person or creature, each video includes specific moments where the person opens his or her mouth and specialized nozzles spray water into the center of the pond.

            The fountain, which anchors the southwest corner of Millennium Park at Michigan Avenue and Monroe Streets, is a favorite of both children and families. The water is on from mid-spring through mid-fall each year (weather permitting,) while the images remain on year-round.

            People walk on the water-covered granite plaza, creating the illusion of walking on water. Of course, I did and of course, Debbie didn't (not sanitary you know). The photo here is of the north tower with the Cloud gate in the background.

Stephen A. Douglas Tomb

Stephen A. Douglas Tomb       In Chicago's South side there is a small park on 35th Street and Cottage Grove Avenue to one of Chicago's famous residents, in fact, he is still there. Illinois senator Stephen Douglas was born in Vermont, but later moved to Illinois and in the 1840's to Chicago. He first became a Congressman from Illinois in 1843 and then a Senator in 1847. An enthusiastic believer in the idea of Manifest Destiny, and a staunch expansionist, Douglas heartily favored the measures which resulted in the annexation of Texas (1845) and in the Mexican War (1846 - 1848).

       In the summer of 1847, he and his first wife Martha (died in 1853) established their Illinois residence in the rapidly growing city of Chicago. They took rooms in the Tremont House hotel (destroyed in the Fire of 1871 - rebuilt as the Tremont Hotel) and planned to erect a more permanent residence overlooking Lake Michigan on the southern edge of the city. Part of the estate, which he called "Oakenwald", was set aside for the future Douglas mansion (that was never built) .

        Douglas wanted to have a trans-continental railroad built from Chicago to California. This led to his most famous proposal, the Kansas Nebraska Act in 1854. The law supported the idea of Popular Sovereignty, the idea that a territory can vote to make slavery legal or not.  It was widely denounced in the non-slave states of the north and opponents saw it as the triumph of the hated Slave Power and formed the Republican Party to stop it.

        In 1958, Douglas was running for reelection for his third term in the senate against a little known lawyer from the new Republican Party named Abraham Lincoln, whom he met in a series of seven famous debates which became known as the Lincoln-Douglas debates. Douglas defeated Lincoln in the election, but the debates hurt him politically and ruined his chances of getting elected in the presidential election of 1860 (that saw Lincoln win). He carried only one state (Missouri), the lowest of his three opponents (though he did receive the second most amount of votes). At the outbreak of the American Civil War in April of 1861, he denounced secession as criminal, and was one of the strongest advocates of maintaining the integrity of the Union
Stephen A. Douglas Tombat all costs. At Lincoln's request, Douglas and his second wife Adele (married in 1856) traveled from Washington D.C. back to Illinois to speak on behalf of the Union. At Harper's Ferry, Virginia, rebel Virginia militia boarded the train, recognized Senator Douglas, and threatened to take him into custody. He and his wife, after threats from Douglas, were allowed to continue on their trip, stopping on the way to give pro-Union speeches, to Springfield, Illinois. He arrived back in Chicago in May.

         However, on June 3, 1861, just six months after the election, Douglas died in the Tremont House hotel in Chicago from typhoid fever at the age of 48. Roman Catholic Bishop James Duggan presided at the funeral on June 7. The procession to the gravesite was led by sixty-four pallbearers accompanying the hearse. Sixteen military companies, including one from the University of Chicago, formed an honor guard, and they were followed by a crowd of more than 5,000 people. He was buried in a brick vault on the shore of Lake Michigan on land that was once part of his 53-acre estate, "Oakenwald." Plans for the monumental Stephen A. Douglas tomb that now stands on the former site of his estate began shortly after his death, but the tomb wasn't completed until 1881. The granite structure was designed by sculptor Leonard Volk and consists of a 46-foot column topped by a nearly 10-foot-tall statue of Douglas. Four bas-reliefs depicting scenes from his life cover the base of the monument, and sculptures symbolizing the four pillars of Douglas's life (History, Justice, Eloquence and Illinois) sit at each corner of the tomb. At the base is an opening where Douglas' sarcophagus can be seen. It is now a state historical site. The small park, which is open from 9 to 5 (closed on holidays) is well maintained. This was the first place in Chicago that Debbie and I visited (of course).

 Municipal Flag of Chicago

Chicago flagThe flag of Chicago has broad blue stripes and four six-pointed stars all in red. Originally the flag had two stars when it was adopted in 1917. The white stripes represent the North, West and South sides of the city. The two blue stripes symbolize Lake Michigan plus the North Branch of the Chicago River and South Branch of the Chicago River plus the Great Canal.  The Red Stars represent (from left to right) Fort Dearborn (added in 1939), the Chicago Fire, the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893 and the Exposition of 1933 (added in 1933).

Museums of Chicago

            When you think of Chicago, most people do not think of museums. However, Chicago has a number of world renowned museums. In addition, some of the buildings they are in are works of art themselves. Our Chicago GoPass allowed us to visit ALL of them.

Field Museum

Debbie & Sue            The first museum we visited was the famous Field Museum. Without the Go Chicago card, the admission is $12.00. It is named after one of it's famous benefactors, department store founder Marshall Field. It was originally built as the Columbian Museum of Chicago back in September 16, 1893. The museum was moved, from what is today The Museum of Science and Industry building, to it's current location when the new building white marble Neo-Classical building was constructed in 1921. Today, the Field Museum is one of the world's great natural history museums. It has a collection of over 20 million objects with less then one percent on display. The museum is organized into four major departments: Anthropology, Zoology, Botany and Geology.

             The museum's most famous exhibit is Sue, a Tyrannosaurus Rex fossil skeleton. Unveiled on May 17, 2000, Sue, named after
Sue Hendrickson, the paleontologist who found it, is the the largest, most complete and best preserved Tyrannosaurus Rex fossil yet discovered. Sue is 45 feet long, stands 13 feet high at the hips and is 67 million years old and was found in South Dakota. Sue is a permanent feature at the Field Museum. the main body is located on the main floor in the Stanley Field Hall. Her head was too heavy to be mounted on the rest of the body, so it is located on a second floor balcony overlooking the body.

             Another interesting exhibit I wanted to see were the infamous Lions of Tsavo. The two stuffed man-eating
maneless male lions terrorized the builders of the Uganda Railway in Tsavo in 1898 killing and eating about 140 workers who were there building a bride. They were killed by Irish hunter and author John Henry Patterson. The story was eventually made into a book and later featured in the 1996 movie The Ghost and the Darkness starring Michael Douglas and Val Kilmer. After killing the two lions, Patterson had the skins made into rugs. In 1924, Patterson sold the museum the lion skins and skulls for the then-sizeable sum of $5,000. The skins were in less-than-perfect condition--old, dry, blemished by gunshot wounds and thorn scratches. ElephantsThe museum taxidermist completed the extremely difficult job of creating the life-like stuffed animals. Because of the poor condition of the skins, the lions appear smaller then they were in real life. The museum taxidermist also created the two large stuffed African elephants on the main floor in the Stanley Field Hall. These bull elephants are 1905 specimens from Kenya. They appear not to be too happy with each other.

              There is an Ancient Egypt exhibit that takes you into a recreation of a two-room 4,400 year old ancient Egyptian mastaba (tomb). You enter from one side and room through the tomb looking at the artifacts. There are 23 human mummies on display as well as many animal mummies. The Grainger Hall of Gems features a large collection of diamonds and gems from around the world, even a Tiffany stained glass window. The Hall of Jades focuses on the way that the Chinese used Jade for eight thousand years. We spent half a day in here, but you could easily spend more. The museum also has many temporary exhibits. The treasures of Tutankhamun will be here for the later part of this year.

The Field Museum is featured in the 1981 comedy Continental Divide when John Belushi's character (based on Chicago Sun-Times columnist Mike Royko) goes up the steps into the museum to listen to Blair Brown's character give a lecture on American bald eagles. The museum was more promently featured in the 1996 monster mystery The Relic with a monster lurking beneath the museum. One of the small changes is the twio famous elephants (above) were replaced with two large giraffes.

Art Institute of Chicago

Art Institute of Chicago             Not too far from our hotel on Michigan Avenue is the Art Institute of Chicago. One of the premier art museums in the United States, it's more famous pieces include American Gothic by Grant Wood and A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte by Georges Seurat. The museum was founded by civic leaders and art collectors back in 1879. As the collection increased, it outgrew two former homes. It finally settled in a Neo-Classical structure built for the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago. Today, the Art Institute of Chicago holds the largest collections of Impressionist paintings in the world outside of the Louvre in Paris.

            In the 1986 comedy Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Matthew Broderick, Mia Sara and Alan Ruck's characters take a tour of the museum. The characters and the artwork seem to come together. There is a great scene where Ruck has a stare-off with Seurat's Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte (more on the painting below).

             The first piece of art we encountered would be one I appreciated the most. It was Gustave Caillebotte's Paris Street, Rainy Day (Rue de Paris, temps de pluie) which he did in 1877. It's a painting of an intersection near the Saint-Lazare train station in Paris on a rainy day.
Caillebotte distorted the size of the buildings and the distance between them to create a wide-angle view. This monumental urban view, which measures almost seven by ten feet, is considered the Caillebotte's masterpiece. Other works of art here are; Pierre-Auguste Renoir's Lunch at the Restaurant Fournaise (The Rowers' Lunch) and Two Sisters (On the Terrace), Paul Cézanne's Rue de Paris, temps de pluieThe Bathers and Madame Cézanne in a Yellow Chair, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec's At The Moulin Rouge, Vincent Van Gogh's Bedroom in Arles and Self-portrait, 1887, Rembrandt van Rijn's Old Man with a Gold Chain , Pablo Picasso's Mother and Child and 33 works by Claude Monet, including six of his Haystacks and a number of Water Lilies.

             In another room is Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte (Un dimanche après-midi à l'Ile de la Grande Jatte). This is Georges Seurat's most famous work (and his biggest), and is an example of pointillism that is widely considered to be one of the most remarkable paintings of the 19th century, belonging to the Post-Impressionism period. Pointillism is a style of painting in which non-primary colors are generated by the visual mixing of points of primary colors placed in close proximity to each other (kind of like television).

Nighthawks              We also saw Edward Hooper's most famous painting Nighthawks. It portrays people sitting in a downtown diner late at night. It is not only Hopper's most famous painting, but one of the most recognizable in American art. The scene was inspired by a diner (since destroyed) in Greenwich Village, Hopper's home neighborhood in Manhattan. Hopper began painting it immediately after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. The surprise attack and sudden involvement in World War II caused a large feeling of gloominess over the country, a feeling that is portrayed in the painting. The urban street is empty outside the diner, and inside none of the three patrons are apparently looking or talking to each other but are instead lost in their own thoughts. Nighthawks has inspired many homages and parodies including Boulevard of Broken Dreams, widely sold later as a poster, by Austrian painter Gottfried Helnwein in which the three diner patrons are replaced by American pop culture icons Humphrey Bogart, Marilyn Monroe and James Dean, and the attendant by Elvis Presley.

             We walked through the entire museum to reach Wood's American Gothic. Wood, who was from Iowa, is best known for his paintings depicting the rural American Midwest. Painted in 1930, American Gothic, which pictures a dour looking women and man with a pitchfork, is his best known painting.
Painted in 1930, it was first exhibited here where it won a $300 prize. Like Nighthawks, American Gothic has also inspired many homages and parodies. We finally reached the room it was in only to find it was gone. No, not stolen, but on loan to The Cedar Rapids Museum of Art. It was replaced with another of his work that Debbie referred to simply as a picture of a barn. Oh well, next time.

Museum of Science and Industry

U-505             One morning we took a commuter train, the station was next to our hotel, to the south part of Chicago in the Hyde park area to visit the Museum of Science and Industry. I was very interested to visit this museum for one reason, they have a captured World War II German U-Boat.  U-505 (U-Boat is short for Unterseeboot) was launched in May of 1941. In 12 wartime missions, U-505 sank eight ships totaling of 44,962 tons (including 3 American ships).

            On June 4, 1944, U-505, now commanded by Oberleutnant Harald Lange, was 150 miles off the coast of Africa. An American task force of naval vessels forced U-505 to the surface with a series of depth charge attacks. After the German sailors abandoned ship (they thought it was sinking), Lieutenant Albert L. David led a nine-man boarding party from the destroyer U.S.S. Pillsbury and boarded the submarine and captured it. It was the first time a US Navy vessel had captured an enemy ship at sea since 1815. U-505 was towed back to Burmuda where it was examined along with captured codebooks.

            After the war, U-505, the only Type IXC U-Boat still in existence, was donated to the Museum of Science and Industry in 1955 where it was an exhibit outside the museum. By 2004, the U-boat had suffered noticeable damage from weather so the museum began the process of moving the U-boat to a new underground, covered, climate-controlled location. Now in an enclosed area, and protected from the elements, the restored U 505 was reopened to the public on June 5, 2005 where we saw it three months later.

Aft torpedo room
Debbie in the mock-up of the galley

             First we took the tour of the inside of U-505. It's complete with dramatic lighting and sound effects. The tour gives you experience of life aboard the sub in the days leading up to her capture. You start in the forward torpedo room and move aft. You pass through the captain's quarters, radio room, mess (kitchen), control room and the forward torpedo room. U-505 has a number of interactive exhibits around it. Debbie and I did the "Dive Trainer." We had to maneuver the bow and stern plane steering positions to keep the sub level. With a small crowd watching us, we managed to not sink the sub.

             In 1982, when German directer Wolfgang Petersen was doing research for his movie Das Boot, he came to the Museum of Science and Industry to do extensive research on the U-505 for accuracy.

The Great Train Story             Another exhibit at the museum that I personally enjoyed was the The Great Train Story. It's a model railroad exhibit which depicts the railroad’s winding journey between Chicago and Seattle, passing through the Midwest, the Plains States, the Rockies, the Cascades and into the Pacific Northwest. It has 1,425 feet of track with 34 trains operating at one time. The scale is such that the Sears Tower is 14 feet in height. The layout goes dark periodically and 80,000 windows light up.

             The photo here is of the Chicago part of the exhibition. These are the models of the buildings along the Chicago River. The bridges, from right to left, are State, Dearborn and
Clark Streets. The R.R. Donnelley Building is in the center. The gap between the buildings is a parking lot where they plan to build another skyscrapper, the 90-story Waterview Tower (will they include it in the model?).

             Another exhibit has a stainless steel frame train called the Pioneer Zephyr (the name comes from Chaucer's Canterbury Tales). Christened in 1934, It was the first of nine "shovelnose" streamlined trains built for the Chicago Burlington & Quincy (CB&Q) Railroad from 1934 to 1939.
On May 26, 1934, the Zephyr embarked on its famous "Dawn-to-Dusk" run from Denver to Chicago. The Zephyr rode 1,015 miles non-stop at an average speed of 77.5 miles per hour, sometimes reaching speeds of 112.5 miles per hour. Thirteen hours and five minutes after leaving Denver, the Zephyr pulled into the Halsted Street station in Chicago, breaking the record for the longest non-stop run at the fastest average speed. The Record Breaking Run made the Zephyr so famous, its next trip was to Hollywood where it starred in its own movie, produced by RKO Pictures, The Silver Streak starring Sally Blane (Loretta Young's sister). It was retired in 1960 and donated to the Museum of Science and Industry. It went on exhibit outside next to U-505, but was brought inside in 1994 and is part of a new permanent exhibit, All Aboard the Silver Streak.

Engine 999             They also have another famous engine here the New York Central 999 steam locomotive. On May 10, 1893, Engine 999 and its attached New York Central Railroad's new passenger train, the Empire State Express, broke the world's land-speed record by reaching speeds of 112 mph along it's route from Syracuse to Buffalo, New York. No other vehicle of any kind had reached speeds of over 100 miles per hour at that time, and it would be another decade before another locomotive matched the 999's speed. The 999 represented a new concept in speed locomotives. Its large oversized wheels gave the 999 its imposing appearance and enabled it to reach heart-stopping speeds. These unusually tall wheels were referred to as a 4-4-0 type (most commonly known as the American type), with four leading wheels (pilots) and four driving wheels (drivers) with no trailing wheels. These were very common engines during the 19th century. However, by 1900, the 4-4-0 was already becoming obsolete in US locomotive manufacture.

Debbie in heart            During its historic 112 miles per hour run in 1893, the drivers were spinning more than 400 times a minute. The World's Fastest Locomotive was a popular attraction at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago. Advances in locomotive design, particularly the advent of diesel-electric power, rendered the No. 999 obsolete. After touring the nation and making appearances at numerous expositions including the Chicago Railroad Fair, the unit (regarded by many as the world's most beautiful locomotive ever built) was retired from service in May, 1952 at which time it was relegated to yard switching service in western New York shuttling express service milk cars. The New York Central donated the locomotive to the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry in 1962, once on the cutting edge of technological achievement, the 999 now stands in the museum as a relic of a bygone era.

            The 999, along with its fuel car, measure approximately sixteen feet tall, ten feet wide and 48 feet long. The driving wheels are seven feet, two inches tall. The locomotive, with two driving wheels on each side, is painted black with silver trim, and has brass components.

            There were other exhibits there like an actual Boeing 727 that you can walk through. Debbie liked the 16-foot-tall model walk-through human heart.

German Ju 87 Stuka dive bomber            The museum also has two World War II planes suspended from the ceiling; a German Ju 87 Stuka dive bomber (that had been shot down in the desert of Libya in 1941 - shown at right) and British Spitfire fighter (an actual veteran of the Battle of Britain).

            We were not able to see all of the exhibits due to the size of the museum and the fact we had a scheduled tour at the Robie House. The ones we missed was a recreation of a coal mine shaft, "Yesterday's Main Street" (a re-created 1910 street), the Aurora 7 Mercury Space Capsule (circled the globe for 4 hours on May 24, 1962) and the Apollo 8 Command Module, which was home to astronauts Frank Borman, James A. Lovell, Jr. and William Anders during their lunar orbital mission in 1968.

Robie House

              After visiting the Museum of Science and Industry, we walked over to the campus of the University of Chicago. We visited the Robie House, which was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and is owned by the university. Designed by Wright for bicycle manufacturer
Robie HouseFrederick C. Robie, it is considered one of the most important buildings in the history of American architecture. Completed in 1910, the building inspired an architectural revolution. Its sweeping horizontal lines, dramatic overhangs, stretches of art glass windows and open floor plan make it a quintessential Prairie style house. Although it was designed more than ninety years ago, the building remains a masterpiece of modern architecture. Over the last couple of years, the Robie House, which has deteriorated, is been restored by the Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust which will last 10 years and cost over 8 million dollars.

            One of the things I loved about the house were the overhanging
cantilevered roofs (which you can see in the photos) which extend beyond the walls. We found out on the tour that leaking roofs are common with Frank Lloyd Wright houses and this one was no different. We took an interior tour of the house which lasts and hour and cost $12. They don't allow interior photography so you will have to take my word that we were inside. The top photo shows the dinning Robie Houseroom area which is below the lower roof (above the opening in the wall). The bottom photo shows the living room area (below the roof). You can see in the photo a long row of windows that go from the living room to the dining room. They are actually glass doors that open up into the long balcony. We were also told that a common curiosity among Wright homes is finding the entrance. They are not where you would think they are. Like the entrance to many of Wright's houses, the one on the Robie House is concealed and is actually around in the back of the house (to the left of the bottom picture)

Shedd Aquarium

             Toward the end of the week, Debbie and I visited Chicago's aquarium. Without a doubt, this was one of the best places we visited during our stay in Chicago, not to mention, the best aquarium I have ever been in.

Shedd Aquarium            The John G. Shedd Aquarium is the 2nd largest indoor aquarium in the world with 5 million gallons of water and 20,000 fish. The Shedd Aquarium, which was a gift of retail leader John G. Shedd (a protégé of Marshall Field), is on Museum Campus Chicago, which it shares with Adler Planetarium and the Field Museum of Natural History. The aquarium gets 2 million annual visits. It contains 8,000 animals of 650 species including fish, marine mammals, birds, snakes, amphibians and insects. It was built back in 1929. In 1933, Chicago hosted its second world's fair, the Century of Progress. Among the collections added during the fair, a Queensland Lungfish known as "Grandpa" is still alive and considered the oldest fish in a public aquarium.

            In 1971, Shedd Aquarium added one of its most popular exhibits, a massive 90,000-gallon tank reproducing a Caribbean coral reef. The biggest event in Shedd's recent history was the opening of its "Oceanarium" in 1991 that features many marine mammals, including Pacific white-sided dolphins and belugas. The aquarium also boasts a number of sea otters; the core of this collection was a group rescued from the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989.

penguin            The Shedd's newest exhibit "Wild Reef - Sharks at the Shedd" is one of the largest and most diverse shark habitats in North America. Completed in 2003, "Wild Reef" attempts to recreate a Philippine coral reef and is based on the Apo Island Marine Reserve, complete with living coral, multiple species of fish and rays, and a collection of sharks. The main draw of this attraction is a 400,000 gallon shark tank with twelve foot high curved windows, allowing visitors a "divers-eye view."

            Shedd Aquarium is also notable for its architecture. The basic design is taken from classical Greek architecture to match the other structures of the Museum Campus. The central aquarium building is octagonal, fronted by Doric columns and a formal staircase and topped by a dome. Aquatic motifs are worked in at every opportunity; tortoise shells, dolphins, octopuses, waves, and even the Trident of Poseidon can be found all over the aquarium's exterior and interior. The Oceanarium is done in a more modern style represented the Pacific Northwest, but one that blends with the older part of the building. The Oceanarium's 2 million gallon main tank is backed by a wall of windows that look out onto Lake Michigan.

Chicago Cemeteries

             Chicago has it's fair share of famous cemeteries and we took a morning to drive up into the North Side to visit a few. We drove up North Clark Street to Graceland Cemetery. Graceland Cemetery is one of Chicago's best-known and most historic cemeteries.  The original City Cemetery was on the lake front, and was considered a health hazard due to overcrowding and water-borne diseases. The bodies were moved to nearby Graceland in the town of Lake View, with the old city cemetery becoming what is now Lincoln Park. I was looking for Supreme Court Chief Justice Melville Fuller to add to my Dead Chief Justice website. He was easy enough to find. Also in Graceland, though I didn't look for them, along with four Illinois governors, 17 mayors of Chicago, a few world-famous architects and Civil War generals are Phillip Armour (meat packing guy), Marshall Fields (retailing genius), inventors Cyrus Hall McCormick and George Pullman along with developer Charles H. Wacker and John Kinzie (one of the earliest settlers in Chicago).

          After leaving Graceland, we headed north again on North Clark to Rosehill Cemetery.  Rosehill is west of the Metra tracks that parallel Ravenswood Avenue. At 350 acres, Rosehill is the largest cemetery in the City of Chicago. Here I was looking for Vice President Charles Dawes to add to me Dead Vice President website. He is in a large mausoleum so it was easy to find. Just had to be careful not to run over any Canadian geese that are all over the place. They too have their fair share of notable people including four Illinois governors, 14 mayors of Chicago and Civil War generals are Oscar Meyar (hot dog guy), Avery Brundage (Olympic guy), Harry Stephen Keeler (mystery writer), Edward McWade (actor - Arsenic and Old Lace and Yankee Doodle Dandy), Martha O'Driscoll (actress - House of Dracula and The Daltons Ride Again), Ignatz Schwinn (bicycle guy), Milton Florsheim (shoe guy), Charles H. Schwab (finance guy) along with five major retail giants
John Shedd (partner of Marshall Field), Julius Rosenwald (partner of Sears), Morris B. Sachs, Richard W. Sears and Aaron Montgomery Ward. It's ironic that these two mail-order business giants, Sears and Ward, are entombed in the same mausoleum, only a short distance apart. They were bitter rivals in life, however, now they are neighbors. Gangster Reinhart Schwimmer, who was killed in the St. Valentine's Day massacre, is also here.

Cavalry Cemetery         Further north, across the city line, in Evanston is Cavalry Cemetery. Cavalry cemetery is one of the oldest Catholic cemeteries in the area. I wasn't here to look for someone famous, although they do have them. I was looking for some of my ancestors. My great-great-grandparents, Manus and Amelia McGady are buried here. They moved from Allentown, Pennsylvania to Chicago shortly after the great fire of 1871 to get jobs rebuilding Chicago. My great-grandfather, Hugh Francis McGady did not go with them. Amanus died in 1904 and Amelia in 1925. I bought a bouquet of red flowers at the main office and placed them in the center of the plot. They have no headstones, just ones placed in the ground (the one nearest the front in the photo is of Hugh McGady). This made it somewhat difficult to locate them. I knew the plot number and the main office gave me the location, but without the headstones, it took a little searching.

           Also here at Cavalry Cemetery are one governor of Illinois, four mayors of Chicago (the governor was also a mayor), Charles Comiskey (Chicago White Sox owner) and Elmer Francis Layden (one of "The Four Horsemen" of Notre Dame).

          After leaving Cavalry Cemetery, we took Lake Side Drive back to Chicago. There are other famous cemeteries that we didn't visit. Oak Woods Cemetery in the South Side has a number of sports personalities like Olympian Jesse Owens
, Adrian "Cap" Anson (Hall of Fame baseball player), Kenesaw Mountain Landis (famous baseball commissioner) and William "Bill" Veeck (flamboyant owner of three different teams, the Indians, Browns, and White Sox) along with physicists Enrico Fermi, two Illinois governors and five mayors of Chicago (including William Hale "Big Bill" Thompson). Mt. Olivet Cemetery was the first Catholic cemetery on the South side of Chicago. Here you will find Patrick and Catherine O'Leary (but not their cow). Holy Sepulchre Cemetery is a Catholic cemetery in Worth Township, southwest of Chicago. Here you will find Chicago's most famous mayor, Richard J. Daley (mayor for 21 years)

        Probably the most famous and maybe the most visited is Mount Carmel Cemetery in west suburban Hillside. The most popular attraction is the Bishops' mausoleum, which received over 50,000 visitors in the two months after the death of Cardinal Bernardin in October 1996. But to many, Mt. Carmel is equally famous for the graves of notorious gangsters like Sam Giancana, Frank "The Enforcer" Nitti, Dion O'Banion, Earl "Hymie" Weiss, Antonio "The Scourge" Lombardo, John May (killed in the St. Valentine's Day massacre), Jack "Machine Gun Jack" McGurn (reputed St. Valentine's Day murderer) - including the best known of them all, Al Capone.

 Movies in Chicago

Blues Brothers              Once upon a time Chicago was the movie capital of the world. People may be surprised how many movies and television shows are still filmed in Chicago each and every year. Some of the more famous movies filmed here are; The Blues Brothers, Risky Business, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, The Fugitive, A League of their Own, Backdraft and The Untouchables. The most recent big name motion picture filmed in Chicago was Batman Returns in 2005.

               Of all of the movies, if you had to pick to that show the most of Chicago, it would have to be
The Blues Brothers and Ferris Bueller's Day Off. The front of Wrigley Field is seen in the The Blues Brothers along with the Soul Food Cafe on W. Maxwell St., The Plymouth Hotel (actually called the Stag Hotel) on W. Van Buren between Clark and State (under the El), the Nazi Rally at Music Court Bridge in Jackson Park just south of the Museum of Science and Industry, the big pileup of Chicago police cars under the El at the intersection of LaSalle and Lake Streets along with the big finale when they drive through Richard J. Daley Plaza past the Picasso statue and across the street to the Cook County Building (where their car falls apart).

Ferris Bueller's Day Off there are scenes filmed in Wrigley Field, the Art Institute and along Dearborn Street, near Adams Street, where Ferris jumps in with the German Day parade.

Chicago Theater

Wicked            Chicago, which is not as famous as New York when it comes to Broadway plays, does have a number of theaters you can see a Broadway play or musical in. I bought tickets to see the musical  "Wicked" at the Ford Center for the Performing Arts also known as the Oriental Theatre online before we left New Jersey.

            "Wicked" is the story of the witches of Oz before Dorothy ever dropped in on them. The two witches meet as young women. One, Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West, born with emerald-green skin, is smart, fiery and misunderstood. The other, Glinda, the Good Witch of the North, is beautiful, ambitious and very popular. The story gives all of the background behind the 1939 movie The Wizard of Oz.

          We were lucky, in the performance we saw, the Wizard was performed by Ben Vereen, who plays the Wizard in the New York production. He came to Chicago to do some shows and we were at one of them.

Oriental Theatre         The Ford Center for the Performing Arts in Chicago, where we saw the show, was once called the Oriental Theatre. It's on Randolph Street, between State and Dearborn, in the revitalized Loop Theatre District. Randolph Street was traditionally the center of downtown Chicago's entertainment district until the 1960's when the area began to decline. The now demolished United Artists Theatre, Woods Theatre, and Roosevelt Theatre were located on or near Randolph Street.

The Oriental Theatre opened in the 1920's as a movie palace with an Eastern decor of the Orient. It has many different animals, fauna and human faces carved in the beautiful house. By the 1970's, the theatre, along with the whole area had declined, and was reduced to showing exploitation films. It was renovated and restored in the 1990's. The theatre re-opened in 1999, as the Ford Center for the Performing Arts, with the Chicago premiere of the musical "Ragtime," and continues to host to Broadway shows, like "Wicked" (which has been here since 2005).

         The site of the Oriental Theatre is located on an earlier theatre, the Iroquois Theater. It was built in 1903 and was advertised as "absolutely fireproof." On December 30 of that year, 1,900 people were in attendance at a matinee showing of the popular musical "Mr. Blue Beard, Jr." featuring vaudeville comedian Eddie Foy. At about 3:15 P.M., a light ignited a curtain. The theater lacked fire hoses, extinguishers or any other means of fighting fires and the protective asbestos curtain failed to drop completely (this left a gap which exposed the audience to flame and smoke). Actors and dancers fled through a backstage door, and the influx of air fueled a huge fireball.
Locked exits, doors that opened inward and unfinished fire escapes prevented many people from escaping. The Iroquois Theatre Fire claimed 602 lives, mostly women and children, and is currently the second worst single-building fire in U.S. history, claiming over 100 more fatalities than the Cocoanut Grove fire in Boston. Among the 500 performers and backstage personnel, only the tightrope artist caught high above the stage died.

26 W. Randolph St.       Due to a long history of theater fires in the U.S. and Europe, by 1903 fire precautions were well developed, but not followed by the Iroquois Theater management. An investigation after revealed large scale corruption that led to inadequate fire prevention. Many people including the theatre owner and the Mayor of Chicago were blamed, however, nobody was ever found criminally liable. The exterior of the Iroquois was largely intact and reopened as the Colonial Theatre, which was later torn down in 1926 to make way for the current 300 ft Oriental Theatre.

       The restaurant
next door to the Oriental Theatre at 26 W. Randolph (which had a Ben & Jerry's when we were there but I read is a Garrett's Popcorn now) has an interesting exterior so I snapped a photo of it along with the Theatre.

       Debbie and I also went to The Second City for a comedy show on Thursday night, September 1. After dinner at Harey Carrey's, we took the subway to the The Second City Mainstage Theater on N. Wells Street. Since it opened in 1959, Second City has launched many comedic careers including; John Belushi, Mike Myers, Bill Murray and Gilda Radner. We had tickets to see their comedy show, "Red Scare." It's kind of a amalgamation of songs and sketches (like one between a liberal bicyclist and a conservative mom pushing a baby stroller).
It was fun and not too expensive. Our tickets were $18 each. We had a good table near the stage and could order food and drinks during the shows (including a pitcher of margaritas). After the show, we caught the El train back to our hotel.

Eating in Chicago

            Chicago, which is famous for it's hot dogs and deep dish pizza (originated by Pizzeria Uno), has many famous places to eat. Chicago is also known for Italian Beef sandwiches and the Maxwell Street Polish (always served topped with grilled onions and mustard). The hard part is deciding where to go. Luckily, I found a Dunkin Donuts near the hotel, so at least I was set for the mornings.

             On Sunday night, our first night in Chicago, we ate at Miller's Pub on Wabash Avenue, under the elevated subway tracks. It was near our hotel so we could easily walk there.
Miller's Pub has a lot of history, most of it hanging on the walls. Every square inch of their wood paneled wall space is covered with autographed photos of nearly every celebrity and sports figure who has ever passed through the Chicago. According to the restaurant, Bill Veeck almost lived here. It opened in 1935 by a family named Miller, of course. In 1955, it was purchased by four Greek brothers (their children still run the place - though one of the brothers is still alive and works there). Known for their barbecue ribs and steaks, Miller's also has a wide variety of Italian dishes that are good. I had their Diamond Jim Brady Cut prime rib ($18). Their Canadian Baby Back BBQ Ribs are supposed to be excellent also.

             We ate at the Berghoff Restaurant on West Adams Street on Monday night. This is a German style restaurant with an adjacent bar area. We had a good time here, especially me. I had a sausage platter with spätzle (German noodles) along with lots of German beer. Debbie, of course, did not have any beer. Opened in 1898 by Herman Joseph Berghoff, an immigrant from Dortmund, Germany. However, seven months after our visit, and after 107 years in business, the Berghoff Restaurant said "Auf Wiedersehen" to Chicago and closed on February 28, 2006. Herman Berghoff's grandson, owner Herman Berghoff, age 70, and his wife wanted to retire. There is a Berghoff Cafe located in O'Hare Airport that is still open. The former bar area has reopened as "17 West at the Berghoff" with a new menu (including a few German specialties). The old Berghoff Restaurant is now used for banquets and private dining only.

             On Wednesday night, before going to the Ford Theater to see Wicked, we ate at the Park Grill on Michigan Avenue in Millennium Park. We were worried that the wait might make us late for the show, but we were in walking distance of the theater. The contemporary American restaurant is adjacent to the ice skating rink which in the summer serves as 300 seat outdoor dining area called "Park Grill on the Plaza." The restaurant features floor-to-ceiling windows and is designed so that every table has views of the action outside; the outdoor area has a spectacular view of the Chicago skyline.

Harry Caray's Restaurant             We went to Harry Caray's Restaurant (the website plays sounds of Caray's broadcasts) on Kinsie Avenue on Thursday night before going to the Second City Theater. It 's in a 100-year-old brick building that was once the home of Frank Nitti, Al Capone's "lieutenant (it was owned by his in-laws). Nitti lived in an appartment on the 4th floor from early 1939 until the time he passed away in 1943. This was a convenient hideout for him. It was near the courthouse building so that he could keep tabs on what was going on around him. The building was also connected to the tunnel networks which allowed him to easily enter or leave the building without being seen. The apartment is still in existence today and contains his bedroom with cedar closet, bathroom, kitchen and living room. The restaurant has maintained this his room by placing framed pictures on the walls of Nitti, Capone and other historical figures and events of that time.

            Built in 1893, the look on the outside, with it's red brick and limestone façade-gable along with a tile roof, is fascinating. It's the only remaining example of 19th century Dutch Renaissance Architecture in Chicago. It's named for the late Hall of Fame baseball announcer, opened on October 23, 1987. The place is really two restaurants. To the right, when you enter, is a sports bar with sports
photographs and memorabilia on the walls. There is a wall dedicated to the building of the Wrigley Field bleachers along with a row of genuine seats from the original Comiskey Park. Much of the memorabilia was donated by Caray. When you enter, their is a bronze bust of Caray (a copy made from the statue of Harry Caray in front of Wrigley Field made from white bronze with a dash of Caray’s favorite beer, Budweiser) along with the remains of the “Infamous Foul Ball” that was deflected by fans during the Cubs’ 2003 playoff loss to the Florida Marlins. It was destroyed during the 6th Annual Worldwide Toast to Harry Caray (after the restaurant paid $113,824 for it at auction). Just above Carey’s trademark glasses are the sunglasses of Elvis Presley. Elvis and Harry were great friends since the moment they met in the early 1960's when Harry was the announcer for the St. Louis Cardinals.

            To the left is the other restaurant, an upscale Italian Steakhouse. We ate in the steakhouse. The waiter brought out uncooked portions of the cuts of meat so we could see what we wanted. I had the  20oz Kansas City strip steak (which goes for around $40) with a side of creamed spinach and a baked potato ($5 each). They also have good local beer on tap. Harry Caray’s has won numerous awards including “Best Steakhouse” by the Chicago Tribune’s Dining Poll. At the bottom of the grand staircase next to the steakhouse, is a life-size fiberglass “Holy Cow!” wearing giant Harry-like glasses (Holy Cow! was Carey's trademark phrase).

          For lunch on Tuesday, we stopped at the Cheesecake Factory on Michigan Avenue and the base of the John Hancock Center. Debbie and I decided to get a quick lunch before going to the top of the building. There was a wait but we finally got a table outside. After going through their huge menu, we ordered only appetizers. It's a good thing since there sandwiches are huge. When we finished we were too full to order any of their cheesecakes. They do have an incredible collection of cheesecakes (over 30 different types).

Chicago hot dog          After our cruise on Lake Michigan, we stopped at an America's Dog in the Food Court of the Navy Pier to get some traditional Chicago style hot dogs. From what I have been told, a traditional Chicago hot dog is a steamed or boiled all-beef, natural-casing frankfurter served
on a poppy seed bun (I love the poppy seed buns) with mustard, sweet pickle relish, chopped raw onions, tomatoes wedges, two or three hot, green sport peppers (not sure what they are) and a kosher-style dill-pickle spear with a sprinkle of celery salt on top (I'm told it's a must). The complete assembly is sometimes called “dragging it through the garden,” but more usually, “the works.” They can also be grilled, though these are referred to as "chardogs" in Chicagoland. This is important, never, and I mean absolutely never, put ketchup on it. I never would, but in Chicago it is considered a crime. When we went to Wrigley Field, I had another Chicago style hot dog. By the way, you can eat at Wrigley Field without giving up a mortgage payment and the hot dogs there are highly regarded by Chicagoans.

           This “banquet on a bun” had its origins in the Great Depression, when greengrocer Abe Drexler decided his 18-year-old son, local sports hero Jake “Fluky” Drexler, needed an occupation. That was in 1929, when jobs were hard to find, so Drexler converted the family’s Maxwell Street vegetable cart into a hot-dog stand, and began offering the “Depression Sandwich,” which sold for a nickel. They cost a bit more today. Some of the more popular hot dog places around Chicago are; Superdawg Drive-In on N. Milwaukee Avenue, you can't miss them with their two giant hot dogs - Maurie and Flaurie, as they call them, on the roof of the building
(around 12 miles northwest of downtown Chicago), Hot Doug's! The Sausage Superstore and Encased Meat Emporium at 3324 N. California Avenue at the corner of Roscoe (around 6 miles northwest of downtown Chicago). The Wiener's Circle on N. Clark Street (in the North End), Portillo's Hot Dogs on W. Ontario St. and the original Fluky's in Lincolnwood and Buffalo Grove (Jim Belushi and the cast of Curly Sue shot a food stealing scene at one of the Fluky's) . There is a website devoted to Chicago hot dogs called, "Hot Dog Chicago Style."

             If you would prefer a cheeseburger you can visit the original
Billy Goat Tavern near the Tribune Towers and Wrigley Building on the lower level of N. Michigan Avenue. Founded in 1934 by Greek immigrant Billy Sianis (remember the Cubs goat curse). Its original location was on the West Side across the street from the old Chicago Stadium before moving to the Magnificent Mile. This led to the Tavern's being mentioned in any number of newspaper columns, particularly those of the late Mike Royko. It is mostly famous because of an early Saturday Night Live skit with the memorable lines ""Cheezborger! Cheezborger! No fries, cheeps! No Pepsi, Coke!". Today, they have a number of restaurants around Chicago and even one in Washington D.C. Debbie and I walked past the tavern but we didn't enter.

          On Friday, September 2, 2006, Debbie and I checked out of the hotel, got into our car and drove west out of Chicago. We were on our way to the Herbert Hoover Library and Birthplace in Iowa City, Iowa. As we left Chicago behind us, we know we will return. We really enjoyed our stay here in the Windy City and as Debbie said about Chicago, "I could live here."

Some Chicago Links:
Official City Website
Chicago Public Library: Historical Information About Chicago
Chicago Historical Society: Encyclopedia of Chicago
Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Tribune
Chicago Landmarks
Chicago Restaurant Guide

Architectural history of Chicago
Millennium Park
The German-American Community of Chicago
The Polish Community of Chicago
The Italian Community of Chicago

Click for Chicago, Illinois Forecast

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