A week ago, on July 12, I signed up for the Chicago Architecture Foundation’s Chicago Masterworks, Connecting Old and New walking tour. It was just something to do. At this time last year, I was in New York City for my vacation, but this year, I don’t think I will be able to go to New York again, so I am staying put, being a tourist in my own city, for the nth time. Since I am a member of the Chicago Architecture Foundation, I might as well enjoy some of the benefits – and including the free admission to some of the walking tours.
But it was not to be. After a few minutes into the tour, it rained and … poured and I didn’t have my umbrella with me. At first, I didn’t mind it, but the rain became relentless. It was just unpleasant going around wet. I ducked into a nearby Walgreen’s to buy an umbrella or a poncho, whatever is the cheapest or available, but there was a long line! Everyone was trying to do the same thing. By the time I got out of there with a poncho covering me and my camera, the tour group was nowhere to be seen.
So I went to Millennium Park instead and took pictures. Then went home. I will try again tomorrow (July 19).
The Empire Room of the Chicago’s Palmer House Hilton
I just realized that I have a lot of free stuff included in my Chicago Architecture Foundation membership that I purchased during the Chicago Open House last year (so I could skip the long lines). So today, January 16, MLK day, no matter how gloomy and rainy it was (and because it was gloomy and rainy), I decided to avail of one of the free tours that the membership offered. I had a choice between two walking tours: the Art Deco and the Historical Buildings Tour – I decided to do the latter as it was scheduled at a later time, enough time for me to head downtown to catch it.
Even if it was dark and rainy, I thoroughly enjoyed to the tour – a 2-hour introduction to the architecture city of Chicago. The docent was excellent and was very knowledgeable. The tour started at the Santa Fe building where the Chicago Architecture Foundation shop is located and proceeded along Michigan Ave., heading north, stopping at a few buildings (like the Symphony Hall, the Art Institute, and Montgomery Ward), then on to Washington St. to the Cultural Center (which was closed, bummer), and then to Marshall Fields (Macy’s) which we went into to see the interior detail of the building. From there, we headed to State St. to see the Reliance Building (now the Burnham Hotel), then the old Carson Pirie Scott Building (now Target) and then finally, the Palmer House Hilton.
Lots of historical details and anecdotes about the architects, the builders and the era during which the buildings were constructed. I knew some of the history and learned some more. I didn’t know about the details of the Art Institute building for example, like the names of artists carved on the top part of the building – it seemed like carving them there didn’t have any purpose except that it is like a wish list for the Institute’s collection.
I had major problems with focusing because of the fog and also because I decided to use an old lens that I haven’t used for a while. It acted up on me. :-(.