Chicago – February – Sunny Morning from the Willis Tower

We woke up to bright sunshine on a very cold Chicago morning, with no plans until late morning so we made our way to the Willis/Sears Tower observation deck 1300′ up.





We have been there before, but not with perfectly clear skies. It turned out there was a bit of a haze along the horizon, which was amazing as a cold front had come through the night before.





The Willis Tower Skydeck’s feature is ‘The Ledge’, a Plexiglas space sticking out the side of the building where you look straight down through the Plexiglas to the street far below.

The young Mennonite (??) couple had no trepidation walking out on that, but I stayed back and took photos!





The view due north from the tower past Lincoln Park and the Lake Michigan shoreline.





The postcard view of downtown Chicago.





As with Lake Erie in Cleveland, Lake Michigan also freezes. With the winter weather going from cold to somewhat warm and back, the ice is spotty.





It was apparent as soon as we got up there with the very bright sunshine low in the sky photos looking east were tricky from the glare, but this view of Adler Planetarium and the Shedd Aquarium came out nice.





Whereas this view to the southeast had more glare but an interesting look on the water in the background.

Notice yet another 70 floor apartment building being built. Cranes are common in the skylines of Chicago.





The Carbide and Carbon Building (green building with gold top in the middle of the photo) was once one of Chicago’s tallest at just over 500′ when it was completed in 1929.

Now it is dwarfed by all the newer ones.





The view northwest along the Kennedy Expressway, which even at 10:30 in the morning had slow traffic coming into the loop.





With the bright morning sun many in this building chose to lower their shades, but from this view it almost looks as though there are numerous broken windows.





A closer view of Lincoln Park and the marina.





This unusual shaped building is the River City Apartments, designed by Bertrand Goldberg – who is most famous for designing Marina City

He apparently likes round shapes.





The Citadel Center with it’s highly reflective glass looks like a jigsaw puzzle of surrounding buildings waiting to be put together.






Chicago – February 2019 – The Rookery

In my opinion the Rookery is the most architecturally interesting building in Chicago, and one of the best in the country.

Situated in the financial section of downtown Chicago on South LaSalle Street, it’s exterior doesn’t give any impression to a visitor of what awaits inside.





Famed architects Daniel Burnham and John Root designed the building in 1888.

With a mix of styles including Moorish, Venetian and Romanesque it was a remarkable building when completed. What makes it even more amazing is Frank Lloyd Wright lead the first of three major renovations in 1905-1907.

The second renovation was completed in 1931 by a former Wright assistant, William Drummond.

The third and final renovation was completed in 1992, and brought it back (mostly) to the FLW look.





Wright covered much of the ironwork with white carved Carrara marble.





The cantilevered staircase was something the people of the early 1900s hadn’t seen. Many refused to go onto the staircase, assuming it would fall off the wall.

Wright added the vertical supports, but they have never been attached – merely there to give assurance to people. The stairs are still doing just fine after 100 years of being cantilevered.





A close up of the marble work.





The stairs to the mezzanine are worn from a hundred years of feet going up and down them.





The mezzanine flooring is glass block.





The mezzanine also gives a great view of the light court.





The lighting of FLW.





Every photo blog posting seems to have a symmetry shot and this is this ones. It is the skylight lattice work.





This view shows one side of the cantilevered steps, as well as more of the marble and skylight.





The second floor elevator lobby looking towards the front of the building. At one time this was closed off for offices.





A view back down the stairs to the glass block. Every angle you look at this amazing building reveals a number of features.





The famed spiral staircase.





A view from the elevator lobby of the stairs.





The very cool lights near the elevators. Note the ‘Y’ underneath the light – it is a symbol of Chicago representing the Chicago River coming from the lake and forking into the North Branch and South Branch.

As you walk around the city you will find this ‘Y’ on numerous structures (but you have to look closely).





The elevator lobby, stairs and skylight! And then you get a reflection of it all off the floor.





Another view from the mezzanine including the Frank Lloyd Wright Trust gift shop.





Our docent Bruce was excellent, very knowledgeable and willing to share.

Here he shows where in the last renovation they left one of the original iron columns exposed.





Our final stop was a rare visit to the 11th floor Burnham Library. While it is a nice enough room, it is what was accomplished there that makes this a very special venue.

Essentially the design of the City of Chicago, and the 1893 World’s Fair were all decided in this room by the country’s greatest architectural minds.

Once again the Chicago Architectural Foundation docents were excellent. We look forward to more tours on this trip.







Chicago – February 2019 – Union Station Architectural Tour

Back in Chicago for more architecture tours starting with the Union Station.





We passed by the symmetrical cool train shed and post office in the distance on the way.

Chicago was for more than 100 years mail order capital of the world with Sears, Montgomery Wards and others shipping products around the country. With all that business, the post office was massive. It is now being converted to condo’s and offices.





The entrance along Canal Street are graced with this massive colonnade the entire length.





The exterior doors and the surrounding ironwork.





Once inside, a quick look back at where we just came from reveals a grand entrance.





The Amtrak Metropolitan Lounge – AKA – The Pennsylvania Room, from the days of the Pennsylvania Railroad.





As you reach the Great Hall you are greeted with these massive Corinthian columns, and a scaffolding free skylight!





When we last visited for Open House Chicago in October the ceiling was covered with scaffolding. The temporary inconvenience has paid off – what a magnificent hall and ceiling.





Even the statues look brighter.




The detail on the tops of the columns are stunning.





A second view of a column as well as the period perfect lighting.





The south end of the hall.





With the renovation complete hopefully they tear down the hideous Amtrak kiosk that is so out of place.





The benches are original to the 1925 construction.





We were fortunate enough to get to visit the Burlington Room. In the early days it was the women’s lounge.





This creepy looking guy keeps watch over the room.





Our final stop was in the Legacy Club. It is awaiting some remodel for private event use.

The city of Chicago should be proud of their grand rail entrance now that the renovation has been completed.








Columbus – February 2019 – Out of the Cold (for a couple of hours)

Our repeat weekend continued with a visit to a botanical gardens, this time back in Columbus.

They had some orchids, but nothing close to the quantity and quality of the Cleveland show. Mostly it was a good place to walk around in nice warmth and check out plants and flower in the dead of winter.







OK so this is not a flower or plant – it is an exhibit called Waning Light. The website for Franklin Park states ”
local artist Dana Lynn Harper strings together thousands of laminated dichroic film discs and suspends them from the ceiling, creating a cloud of iridescent petals floating and bending through the space. Harper manipulates material, size, color and light to build a dreamlike and otherworldly installation”.

It makes for a great look and atmosphere, with the light of each disc changing as you move around them.




A random rose.




More ‘not a plant’ – Part of the Chihuly Display.




There were a number of ‘upside down’ planters.




Back to our original program – orchids.







Eventually we ran out of orchids and continued through the desert and rain forest sections.








Our couple hours were up so it is back into reality – cold and snow.




Columbus – February 2019 – The Ice is Back

This weekend is a bit of a repeat from last weekend with visits to icy places and botanical gardens (to recover from the cold)

While Columbus doesn’t have anything close to Lake Erie, they do have a few streams that have enough drop to have small waterfalls, including Indian Run Falls in Dublin.





The falls are very small, but with enough splash onto the rocks for some nice ice formations.





As noted in the Cleveland ice posting it had warmed up and rained (a lot) but it is now very cold again, resulting in frozen puddles, with interesting patterns frozen in them.




Further down river is Hayden Run Falls, the best in town. There is a nice boardwalk to get back to the falls, crossing over the flooded bottom.





After a short distance you arrive at the falls. The Featured Image for this posting has a closer photo of the falls.





Everything within 200′ of the falls had a nice coating on it from the continual mist coming off the water, although mostly on the side facing the falls.









The ravine walls had numerous icicles all over them










As we made our way back down the boardwalk we could hear the ducks quacking away.





Our last stop was Griggs Dam. Again with all the recent rain and snow melt off there is flooding, so the dam’s for the reservoirs are running at full capacity.





With this being a dam, and not a waterfalls there is little spray to cause ice formation right at the dam, but just down stream the trees along the banks were covered in ice.





They aren’t Niagara Falls, but a nice way to spend a few cold hours on a Sunday morning.







Cleveland – February 2019 – Frozen, but Thawing

As usual in winter in the midwest the weather is all over the place. Last week was sub zero Fahrenheit, and by Sunday it was nearly 60 degrees.

Lake Erie tends to ice over quite a bit in the winter, and this year has been no different. Followers of this blog will note the main photo is the iced over Cleveland Harbor lighthouse after a particularly hard winter.

For this day the ice was melting somewhat, but still providing some interesting sights. The photo below is a security fence that was iced completely over, but has melted enough to be translucent.





There was some ice cover near the shore, but with large wet spots that seemed to attract the seagulls. The water provided a nice reflection.





While taking photos of the ice and water, I noticed that this shot got a perfect ‘T’ of airplane contrails in the sky. My assumption is an east-west flight had recently passed at altitude, and the northbound flight had just reached where the east-west contrail was present.





A close up of the birds on the ice.





Despite the look the water inside the breakwater wall is frozen and beyond it is open water.





The wall at Voinovich Park had some ice on it, but with perfect symmetry with the concrete.





The lighthouse has a bit of ice on it, but nothing like the main blog site photo.





The harbor in front of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame still had some light icing on it.





The life preserver is ready if needed.





Meanwhile over at Edgewater Park, the beach had a lot of ice on it.





The ice was very chunky.





The birds clearly congregated near the water, even if it was just pooled on the remaining ice.





The amount of seagulls all along the lake shore was staggering.





Our last stop was along Rocky River. Each spring (or thawing in winter) results in significant flooding in the valleys with the ice jams.





The ravine walls provided a small waterfall. It was a nice day for checking out the melting ice with a different look that the stark white normally associated with the winter ice on the lake (and river)