Buenos Aires – October 2019 – Historic Coffee Shops and Bars

In 2000 the city of Buenos Aires passed a law that each October 26 will forever be ‘Day of Buenos Aires Bars’, as on that date in 1894 the famed cafe Tortoni first opened.

As part of this the historic society offered a walking tour of the historic bars and cafes of the city each October 26th.




We started outside the Colonial Bar/Cafe. This building still contains some of the bricks of the original building in the colonial area, made of baked clay and straw. It has been a favorite of journalists and writers during it’s 100 year existence, and has been featured in a number of movies.




The Otto Wulff Building is directly across the street from the Colonial Bar. It is not known so much for the very stylish Starbucks on the first floor, but rather the building itself.

Designed by Danish architect Morten Ronnow, it is one of several in the city with his signature look.




The columns of human figures are known as atlantes, and represent the arts and crafts used in the building.



During a 2012 remodeling, the wooden door was restored to it’s original splendor.



While not officially part of the tour, we passed by the Rey Castro. It is a ‘Disco Dinner Show’ theater, that transforms into a bowling alley, then a full blown disco. Oh yeah – it has absolutely nothing to do with Cuba or Castro.



The El Querandi is one of the original Tango Bars of the city, located in the historic neighborhood of San Telmo.



They believe in keeping the tradition alive, while offering a high end dining experience.



The Puerto Rico Cafe is also on the list of ‘notable bars and cafes’. Originally opened in 1887, it moved to this location in 1925.



Their medialunas are excellent (a long tour required a snack!)




The Liberia de Avila is the oldest bookstore in Buenos Aires, dating from the early 1800s. In 1926 the old building was destroyed, and this one was construction, but the bookstore remains.



Our guide lead us on to the most famous cafe of all…




The Cade Tortoni! There is always a line of tourists out the door.




The Castelar Hotel dates from 1929, and in those 90 years has hosted everyone from artists to revolutionaries. Even the construction of the hotel is controversial, as they flaunted the Avenida de Mayo height regulations by tilting the roofline back, to add a 14th floor.




Our tour finished outside the second oldest bar in the city, the Ibiera. Dating from 1897, it too hosted radicals, and other politically minded people. Many of them had exited Spain during a war, and settled in BA. Today the corner is known as the ‘most Spanish corner of Buenos Aires’, with the numerous Spanish restaurants and bars.

While the tour was in Spanish only, it gave us a good overview of the history of the bars and cafes of the city, and we came away with a few more Spanish words.






Chicago – October 2019 – Open House V3.0

Late October means it is time for Open House Chicago – our 3rd straight year! As always there were hundreds of volunteers making sure your visit to over 250 buildings went well.



This year ended up having an emphasis on theaters and churches. We started with the Goodman Theater.







Just around the corner is the Nederlander Theater. Built in 1926 and operated for nearly 100 years as the Oriental Theater, it was recently renamed for James Nederlander, the founder of Broadway in Chicago.



It is the most ornate theater I have ever seen.






Our morning of theaters ended with the Lyric Opera Theater.





Chicago was for many years the mail order center of the world, and as such had a massive main post office, located next to Union Station. Today it is being redeveloped into condos.







The Monroe Building is located along South Michigan Avenue. Built in 1912 it has one of the largest collections of Rookwood Pottery tiles in the world.





The Seventeenth Church of Christ is a modern style church located amongst the skyscrapers of Wacker Drive. Completed in 1968, it has a unique look for a church.



For something totally different we made a visit to the Prairie Concrete Company. It is the largest volume concrete dealer in the country, with the capability of creating enough concrete for a 2 car garage every 90 seconds!

This is their only pink cement truck.









The hundred year old Motley School was closed and refurbished into apartments.





Our final stops were churches in Ukranian Village.













Elmhurst, Illinois – October 2019 – Mies at the Museum

The Elmhurst, Illinois Art Museum is located in on a small campus in suburban Chicago. In addition to a couple of galleries, they have a space that local artists continue to work.










We did not however make the trip out to the ‘burbs for the paintings. We were here to see one of the few houses that famed architect Mies Van Der Rohe designed. Designed in 1952, it was moved in the 1990s to the art museum campus.

It is considered one of the classics of mid century modern.



The museum has done their own interpretation of the furnishings and artwork throughout.




















Brooklyn – September 2019 – A Day at the Beach

A sunny Sunday in the city – a perfect time to go to Coney Island.



Even though it was warm the beach was almost vacant.



As was the boardwalk.




A perfect time to stop for some Nathan’s Hot Dogs.



Back on the boardwalk we met a zombie baseball team.



There is currently a large collection of very unique murals on walls placed around a common space. The artists came from all over the world.













It was time to get back on the train to Manhattan….




But not before stopping at the Brighton Beach station where the MTA museum was running a number of vintage trains.







A great way to spend a few hours at the beach – Brooklyn style.