Chicago – December 2018 – Historic Treasures

The Chicago Architecture Foundation is a large non profit group that supports the historic architecture of the city. With a small army of volunteer docents they offers numerous options for tours, so many that we have decided to become members.

For this cold Saturday we had two tours queued up – the first is Historic Treasures of Chicago. This tour focused on the buildings and people who were instrumental in the development of downtown around the time of the 1893 World’s Fair.

As we left the new CAF facility on Wacker Drive we had an immediate view of some of the classic details in the buildings of the period with this relief carved in the side of 333 North Michigan Avenue.

As we made our way down Michigan Avenue we passed the Carbide and Carbon Building. Now a boutique hotel, it was designed by the Burnham Brothers, sons of Daniel Burnham. While not from the late 1800s – early 1900s period (it was completed in 1928), it is still a great building.




Further south is the Chicago Cultural Center. Originally built as the main public library, we have visited this building often, and will finish this tour inside, but the first part of this tour took us along the outside where you get great contrasting views of old and new.




Millennium Park might not seem like it belongs in a story of Historic Treasures, but without the foresight of Burnham and others the park would not exist.

In addition the legacy of the Wrigley family lives on in the columns.




A skating rink is set up for winter – with a view of the bean.




The Montgomery Ward Tower is located at 6 North Michigan Avenue. During it’s heyday, Montgomery Ward was the Amazon of the time – with mail orders shipped throughout the country.

The building was originally built with a pyramid top and statues, which brought the height to 394′ the tallest in Chicago at the time. After the removal of these the building is 282′ tall.



Our next stop was the opulent Palmer House. There has been a Palmer House hotel on this site since 1871. The first one had the misfortune of being completed just 13 days before the Great Chicago Fire, in which it burned down.

The second one was completed in 1875 and lasted until 1925, when the current, much larger, hotel was built.

It has always been known for it’s luxurious lobby and rooms

A close up of the clock shows some of the detail that exists throughout.



Nearby on Wabash is Jewelers Row. While a number of small, independent jewelers still exist the national chain, Kay, took over the famed store with the peacock clock (while doing a very poor job of painting over the former name).




We continued on to State Street where we found the Sullivan Center at the corner of State and Madison. Originally known as the Carson Pirie Scott & Company Building, it was designed by the famed Louis Sullivan in 1898.

The building is known mostly for it’s significant metal ornamentation of the lower floors, as well as the large ‘Chicago Windows’ throughout.

At one time there were 7 large department stores in downtown Chicago, now there is one. This was one of the original 7, now it houses a Target store on the 1st two floors and a college on the others.







The aforementioned Macy’s store was once the flagship Marshall Fields. To a person every Chicagoan will tell you that the building and the store has gone downhill since Macy’s took over.




The most noteworthy architectural item in the store is the 30,000 piece Tiffany’s ceiling.




Our final stop was the interior of the Chicago Cultural Center. While we have been in here a number of times it is always worth revisiting, with it’s magnificent Tiffany’s ceiling.

As always the CAF tours are well worth the time and money. Our docent Tim was very knowledgeable and personable, giving insight to the buildings and people that built them.









Chicago – December 2018 – Saturday Night Live Experience

Saturday Night Live has been coming to you from New York for 40 years, so it makes no sense why the SNL Experience would be in downtown Chicago, but it is.

With an hour and a half before closing we decided to pay the $25 each and check it out. We got our tickets and went up stairs where we we herded into a small room for the preview video – which fortunately was only a few minutes long.

We then made our way in. The exhibits gave a brief history of the show’s start, followed by how the week of preparation leads up to Saturday night.




The highlights of the exhibit were the costumes and props collected over the years.




The Land Shark




Bill Murray’s Nick the Lounge Singer’s jacket.




Party on Wayne – Party on Garth




One of the more interesting areas was makeup, including the Coneheads.




A large area of costumes.










As well as a collection of the fake products




The upper level had a mock up of the control room, where we were once again grouped together.




This lead us to a replica of the stage where they presented a video to make us feel like we were there (sort of)




The costumes and props are cool to see, but you can likely watch all the videos at home on Youtube. It was cool, but not worth $25 each.

We did however get an additional floor for the Radio and TV Museum. This focused primarily on Chicago TV and Radio, but had some interesting items like Jack Benny’s violin (old school – look it up).





In a section on advertising they had a Crash Test Dummy




The very famous Nixon- Kennedy debate took place in Chicago in 1960. This is the camera used that many say swayed the election to Kennedy.




Meet The Press has been a Sunday morning news program for decades. The museum has one of the sets used.




Finally in the way back machine – Charlie McCarthy (another look it up moment for many)







Chicago – December 2018 – Ravenswood Architectural Artifacts

A trip up the El’s Brown Line took us to the Ravenswood Architectural Artifacts. Located in 80,000 square feet of an old industrial building, they have high end ‘artifacts’, many costing into the thousands of dollars.




They even had a couple of small cars, like this great Fiat.




The collection was unique, and large.


Where else can you find that mummy you were looking for.


Some sculptures from the top of old buildings.




One of those not really sure what they are piles.




Need a sign for the toilet?


Or a letter?


Forms for making masks.




A fireproof suit for working around a blast furnace.




Glass ornament – perhaps it once had a purpose other than decorative.




What a cool collection of ‘stuff’.




Well worth the visit – the Ravenswood Architectural Artifacts. Just off the Brown Line at Montrose.




Chicago – December 2018 – Architecture Center

The Chicago Architecture Center recently moved from the Railway Exchange Building to 111 Wacker Drive. Their new home is much larger, with an exhibit on the second level on skyscrapers.

This exhibit has scale models of a number of the significant buildings from around the world, including many Chicago landmarks like Marina City.

Also included are a couple of smaller scale models of buildings whose design or building materials were unique. This model is the Seagrams Building, built in Manhattan in the 1950s and one of the first ‘glass and steel’ skyscrapers.

The new location on Wacker Drive offers views of the models with an impressive backdrop.

Also noted in this exhibit is the influence that Chicago architects have had on the skyscraper design since the very beginning.

As we headed back to the main level we had a great view of the Burj Kalif, and how it dwarfs (in height) buildings like the Sears/Willis Tower and the Chrysler Building. It is so tall they had to use both levels of the museum to get it in.

When the Chicago Architecture Center was in the Railway Exchange Building they had a great model of downtown Chicago. This has been moved to the new location and enhanced.

The individual buildings are still there, many easily recognizable.

They have added a huge video screen, and lights that accent various parts of the city – all controlled by panels that visitors can select.

Along one wall they have a map of Chicago with every building in the city color coded to illustrate when it was built: Yellow for pre 1900, Blue for the period between 1900 and World War II (1945), Orange for Postwar (1946-1979) and Red for those built since 1979.

A detailed look at one of the neighborhoods on the North Side – Ravenswood. Many North Side neighborhoods have been going through gentrification – Ravenswood included, but not to the extent of others.

Note the high percentage of buildings were Pre War or earlier, yet the neighborhood is well kept and lively.

This display also shows some of the more common building designs used in the residential space. For Ravenswood it is the ‘Courtyard Apartments’ – there are thousands of them in Chicago.

A visit to the new Chicago Architecture Center is well worth the price of admission.

The former home in the Railway Exchange Building is doing just fine, albeit much quieter.

Volo, Illinois – December 2018 – Movie Cars and More

Late December found us back in Chicago again. For this cold, rainy day we made our way to the far (far) suburb of Volo to check out the Volo Auto Museum

As it turned out it was far more than an auto museum.

But first we passed through Niles, Illinois – and the Tower of Pisa (half height replica)

Finally we arrived at the Volo Auto Museum. It is a collection of 18 different buildings and shelters. Volo is unique in that almost everything is for sale so we saw a great collection of classic cars with prices on them.

As we made our way into the first building it was apparent that they had far more than just cars including a collection of nicely restored jukeboxes.

A Zoltar from the movie ‘Big’. There is a large collection of movie props scattered throughout the museum.

Pedal Cars – They had one of the largest collections I have seen (Gilmore had more, but not by much)

Motorized Bicycles – the famed Whizzers.

Kiddie Rides galore

As noted previously, they have a large collection of props from movies, or marketing from the various entertainment groups like Disney or Warner Brothers.

And a small, but classic, camper collection

A great scooter collection.

Snowmobiles.

A very early Ford with tractor drive wheels and ski’s on the front.

But we are here for the cars.

Some of the ‘cars’ are very custom designs – like a Skate Car

Lots of movie and TV cars. All of the cars you see in the movies and on TV are really one of many of the exact same car (often 10 or more). Volo prides themselves in getting one of these original cars.

Usually they are looking for the car that was used for the publicity so it is not all beat up.

Let’s start with KITT from Knight Rider.

Terminator 3

The Beverly Hillbillies Movie

One of the first Fast and Furious movies

The Ecto Mobile from Ghostbusters.

Ninja Turtles

The Bluesmobile.

A more recent Mad Max movie car

A really wacky one from a movie called Son of the Mask

Vehicle and prop from Alien

One of the original 1960s Batman TV show cars.

The Munster’s Car

Christine. Stephen King made us all afraid of this car.

A later Batman movie car

And finally – a prop car for the Flintstones! The Volo Auto Museum is quite the place – well worth a few hours of wandering around.

Columbus – December 2018 – Ohio’s Attic

The Ohio History Center in Columbus is sort of Ohio’s attic, if an attic is a brutalist style concrete building with a number of galleries with extremely diverse displays.

Still, a good way to spend a few hours on a cold, rainy Saturday.

First up – African American Art

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A long time Columbus TV legend, Flippo (or more appropriately Flippo’s outfit)

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A small engine.

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Silver Bracelet from the 1800s.

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Ohio has always been known for it’s many glass makers.

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Coverlets

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A display on World War I had a gas mask. Interestingly the precursor to the gas mask was invented by Garrett Morgan in Cleveland. An African American, Garrett had a long and distinguished life as an inventor.

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An exhibit on Ohio artists. This display honors Paul Henri Bourguignon, a Belgian born artist who settled in Columbus in 1950 after his wife joined the faculty of Ohio State University.

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Flywheel for a steam engine. I just like the symmetry and color.

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Early fire engine.

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Horse drawn streetcar.

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Model Train set.

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Miss America 1953’s gown and portrait.

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Etch a Sketch – from ‘Ohio Art’

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A 1957 Chevy and an Airstream Trailer. The camper has been built in Ohio for a long time.

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The Soap Box derby is synonymous with Ohio.

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Lustron Homes were prefabricated, metal houses made in the 1940s and 1950s.

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This display is all set for Christmas 1955.

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Native American pipe.

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And effigy.

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Flints.

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A display of Civil War era Ohio Companies flags.

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Dinosaur skull.

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Fossils.

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Taxidermy of animals that once, or still, are present in Ohio.

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An airplane, because we need an airplane.

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And cars. We need cars to. And the state has long produced both.

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An early tire mold from Firestone.

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Finally we are hungry, so we stopped by White Castle (at least the exhibit – we found better food for lunch afterwards).

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Columbus – December 2018 – Krampus Returns

It is that season again – Krampus! For those who have forgotten, Krampus is a horned figure used to scare little German kids into behaving during Christmas so they get presents.

Columbus has a small, but colorful, Krampus parade.

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