Chicago – October 2018 – Open House Part 1

Our Chicago Open House weekend started on Friday, before the official event started on Saturday. We made our own tour of places that were open.

 

James Thompson Center – Designed by Helmut Jahn, the Thompson Center is a 17 story curved glass building housing many government offices. From the interior all 17 floors are visible in the impressive atrium.

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On the plaza in front of the building is a sculpture from Jean Dubffet called Monument with Standing Beast. Standing at 29’ high, the sculpture weighs in at 20,000 pounds.

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Cook County Office Building – A classical 12 story office building located in the government section of downtown Chicago, to me it is most famous for where the Blues Brotthers went to pay the property tax for the childrens home (and yes the Cook County Assessors office is located in this building).

The building has the classic Art Deco look on the interior.

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Chicago Temple – The First United Methodist Church of Chicago was the first church to be founded in the city, even before it was a city, in 1831. In 1838 it moved to it’s current location at the corner of Washington and Clark.

In the early 1920s with downtown Chicago rapidly developing the church debated selling their valuable land and moving out to one of the neighborhoods. Eventually they decided on a novel approach, build a skyscraper with a church included, and in addition, put a chapel on the top. The result was a 568’ tall building with what is to this day the highest church from street level in the world.

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The first level has a traditional church.

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Known as the Sky Chapel, it was part of the original building but not fully completed until 1952 as a gift from the family of the Walgreen’s Drug Store founder.

To this day the church is self funded by the rents paid by other tenants in the building, allowing it to fully focus on serving the diverse community it serves.

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Outside is some unique art.

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Marshall Field’s (Macy’s) Tiffany Dome – With over 1.6 million pieces it is the largest Tiffany  mosaic in existence. Designed by Louis Tiffany in 1907, over 50 artisans worked on scaffolding for 18 months to complete this amazing masterpiece.

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The Pedway hosts a collection of stained glass.

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Some general scenes around the city.

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A tourist boat on the Chicago River.

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One of the lift bridge control buildings frame by a 60 floor building.

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Classic Chicago – The Merchandise Mart with a Brown Line El train coming in.

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Old street light and new skyscrapers.

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Up Wells Street from the 10th floor of a parking garage.

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A building along Madison Street.

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Millennium Park

Cloud Gate is a public sculpture located in Millennium Park. While the artists inspiration was liquir mercury, it is commonly referred to as The Bean. It is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city.

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The buildings along East Randolph Street.

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Pritzker Pavilion – A Frank Gehry design, the pavilion is a band shell that hosts numerous events each year. For this mid October night it was quiet, but still stunning with it’s red lighting.

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Art Institute of Chicago is one of the oldest and largest museums in the United States. From this part of the park, you get a great view of one of the modern additions along with the Michigan Avenue skyline.

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tomorrow the official events starts.

 

 

Macedonia, Ohio – September 2018 – Wizard of OzFest

The small Cleveland suburb of Macedonia held a ‘Wizard of Oz Fest’ in the town park. Being in the area we decided to stop by.

Generally the festival was a bust, with just a few vendors peddling Wizard of Oz related trinkets. There were however some people from the local community theater dressed as characters from the movie.

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The people from the theater embraced their parts, doing a good job of staying in character.

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In addition there were a couple of other people who came dressed for the occasion, but very few. Perhaps we timed it wrong as earlier in the day they had a ‘Dorothy 5k’, but I am unsure if many came in costume.

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One of the Wicked Witches guards was on hand.

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One guy put on a one person show where he did the entire movie in 20 minutes, changing his hats/hair/etc and doing a brief piece from the movie.

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The community theater Dorothy.

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The witch.

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The twenty minute Oz wishes everyone a good day. While not the best festival we have ever been to, those in character earn points for effort.

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Cleveland – September 2018 – IngenuityFest

Each September IngenuityFest occurs in Cleveland. It is tough to explain exactly what IngenuityFest is, but their website describes it as ‘sparking creativity among artists, entrepreneurs and innovators of all types, through job and collaboration, in service to civic progress.

What that means is you will find music, lots of music….

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Interesting art….

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Unique performances like a belly dancer will lit candles on her head….

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A lampshade that looks like a cloud….

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A lamp made out of an old drill….

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Really cool art….

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More music….

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A room that you stand in front of a projector and it turns you into a stick person that moves as you move….(a selfie)

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More music….

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The musicians we heard were all quite good.

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The octopus that ate the Terminal Tower.

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These guys were demonstrating their robot that can paint lines on roads, but for this they were making a large painting on the parking lot.

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Held in a hundred year old former factory (where Fuel Cleveland was held a few months ago), even the venue was re-purposed.

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IngenuityFest is one unique event.

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New York City – September 2018 – Historic Skyscraper Details

As noted on other postings New York City has a plethora of skyscrapers, many that have been built in the last 50 years that are massive glass boxes.

Prior to that the buildings were built with much more style. This posting looks at some of the architectural and artistic details of those early skyscrapers.

The Corbin Building is at Broadway and John Street in lower Manhattan. Dating from 1889, it was built in the Romanesque Revival style with French Gothic details.  It was restored in 2014 by the MTA as part of the Fulton Subway station complex.

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The Woolworth Building was completed in 1912 as the world’s tallest building, at 792 feet high. The exterior is limestone colored, glazed Terra Cotta panels.

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The Woolworth Building is built in a Gothic style, with it’s impressive crown visible still above most of the buildings in the city.

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The Equitable Building is a massive structure on lower Broadway. It has been credited (or cited) as the reason for the 1916 set back law to allow light and air to reach the streets, as this building goes 40 floors straight up from the sidewalk.

With this density it provides 1.2 million square feet of office space on a plot of less than 1 acre.

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The  Equitable Building does provides this impressive eagle.

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The sculptures above the New York Stock Exchange Building. The original sculptures from 1904 were replaced in 1936 as they were too heavy and were causing cracking in the building.

The theme of this sculpture is to show that money is not the root of all evil, rather it is required for the betterment of man.

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The buildings along Beekman Street show the contrast to the new  Frank Gehry 76 story ‘twisted’ skyscraper.

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Surrogate’s Courthouse, completed in 1907

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A sculpture outside of the Custom’s House on Bowling Green.

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Rockefeller Center provides numerous reliefs and sculptures including these two.

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The French Building on Fifth Avenue in Midtown has an impressive entrance.

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A contrast of style along East 42nd Street.

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The Brunswick Building is on Fifth Avenue at 27th Street. Completed in 1906 is has served as a hotel, a warehouse and a sales showroom for gift wholesalers, thus earning the unofficial name as the New York Gift Building.

It is now luxury apartments.

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The famed Flatiron Building. Everyone takes a photo of the narrow front section, this is the side section.

Clearly it does not have central air conditioning.

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A detail on the Flatiron.

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A close up of the Met Life clock.

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The Met Life Building crown.

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The classic art deco – with the ubiquitous eagle. There are eagles on nearly all the older skyscrapers.

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Another contrasting styles view.

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70 Pine Street – Completed in 1932. The top area of the building was once an observation deck.

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Detail of a building along Broadway near Trinity Church.

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Cascading cornices in downtown Manhattan.

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The very cool American Express building.

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Another sculpture in front of the Customs House.

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Cunard Lines building – note the ships.

The new buildings like the World Trade Center are great, but nothing beats the detail on the early 1900s skyscrapers.

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New York City – September 2018 – Chrysler Building

The Chrysler Building is the most stylish skyscraper in New York City. Built in the late 1920s, it was for a few months the tallest building in the world – losing out to the Empire State Building once their construction completed.

To most, it is most famous for it’s ‘hood ornaments’, befitting a building built for a car company.

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Built in the classic art deco style, it appears to have perfect symmetry, but in reality the building is built in a trapezoid shape. This shape is a result of it being built on land that had been laid out along the path of the old Boston Post Road, which pre-dated the 1811 Manhattan Grid Plan.

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With a height over 1,000 feet it is the tallest brick building in the world.

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The 61st floor features eagles.

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In 1916 New York City enacted a ‘setback’ law. This law did not limit height, but required setbacks in the design to allow light and air to reach the streets below.

As a result many of the buildings built from then until the 1950s have a ‘wedding cake’ style to them.

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As noted previously the ‘gargoyles’ on the Chrysler Building are hood ornaments. The ones featured on the 31st floor are enlargements of the exact hood ornaments on the Chrysler automobiles of the day.

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The style and color of the ornaments blend perfectly with the lightly colored bricks.

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The crown is capped using ‘Nircosta’ stainless steel, as are the ornaments, window frames and needle.

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An entrance to the building continues the art deco theme.

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According to the documentation, the lobby is representative of German Impressionism.

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The lobby floors are massive pieces of African red granite, with Italian travertine in the elevator entrances.

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In addition to the travertine, the elevator lobbies have ornate wall designs.

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While many New York City landmarks won’t even let you in the lobby (talking to you Woolworth Building), visitors are welcome here, albeit only in the lobby.

The security guard did point out to me that we should wait for this specific express elevator to arrive and open as it has a unique interior.

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The ceiling has a large mural called ‘Transport and Human Endeavor’.

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A longer view of one of the elevator lobbies. There are 32 elevators in total.

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The lower level continues the art deco look, only in black.

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The Chrysler Building – One of the best.

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New York City – September 2018 – Faces at the Met

An afternoon at the Met gave me a subject – The Faces at the Met (real and art).

They speak for themselves.

 

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New York City – September 2018 – Grand Central Details

America’s greatest train station is Grand Central Terminal. While hundreds of thousands of people commute through the terminal every day, and nearly every tourist who comes to New York stops by, I had the opportunity (and the zoom) to check out close ups of some of the details.

The feature photo is a closeup of the clock and sculptures that are at the top of Grand Central facing south towards Park Avenue.

Let’s head inside.

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The iconic information kiosk clock backed by one of the schedule boards. The information kiosk is reached via an internal spiral staircase from the lower level of the terminal.

The clock was made by the Seth Thomas Clock Company. The clock has made appearances in numerous movies including North by Northwest, The Fisher King, the Godfather and others.

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The Beaux Arts Chandeliers frame the Main Concourse, with five on both the north and south side.

The bulbs have a basic look to them, but in reality they were replaced in 2009 with far more efficient fluorescent ones.

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Looking up from one of the lower level walkways you see a chandelier, skylights in the ceiling and the famed ceiling.

There are numerous photos on display in the terminal showing sunlight beaming through the side windows – something that is no longer possible because of the tall buildings surrounding GCT.

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Also in the lower level are some classic wooden benches. Before a restoration in the 1970s these benches were used for waiting passengers in the Main Concourse.

Since then, their primary use has been in the food court in the lower level, but others are in the corners of the lower level.

In addition the Springfield, Massachusetts train station recently installed some restored GCT wooden benches that were unused. They are currently on ‘permanent loan’ to Springfield, who restored them as part of the deal.

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While technically not in Grand Central Terminal, the Graybar Building has been closely associated with GCT since it’s construction in 1927.

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The building has the classic art deco mailboxes in the granite wall, as you walk through the GCT passage to Lexington Avenue (more on the Graybar Building later).

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Back in the Main Concourse one of the chandeliers accents the departure boards perfectly.

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The famous sky ceiling – 125 feet across and hung from steel trusses, the ceiling has 2,500 gold stars.

One of the earliest passengers in 1913 quickly figured out that the sky is ‘backwards’, on the ceiling east is on the west side of the concourse, and vice versa.

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Until the 1990s the grime was so bad the ceiling was barely noticeable. As a reminder they have left a black patch to show how dirty it was.

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A random look up shows amazing detail.

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GCT ‘hidden’ high up on one of the side walls.

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A ticket sellers window.

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Down in the lower level even the elevator lobbies have amazing detail.

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As do the track entrances.

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Heading out onto Lexington Avenue we see the main entrance to the Graybar Building. Note the giant reliefs on each side.

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Eagles are a recurring them in GCT, and the entire area.

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More detail on the exterior of the Graybar Building.

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The Graybar Rats – The sculpted rats are depicted as though they are climbing ropes that anchor a ship. In reality it is what is holding up the canopy over the entrance.

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Other canopy supports have more traditional artwork on them.

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Easily one of the most overlooked vintage New York Skyscrapers, the Graybar is worth spending some time looking up at.

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Another building that is closely associated with GCT is the Helmsley Building.

While not quite as famous as GCT’s clock facing south, the Helmsley clock greets the Park Avenue traffic coming from the north.

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This building too has numerous gargoyles and other sculptures throughout.

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More Helmsley Building detail.

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The former Postum Building at 250 Park Avenue is a prewar survivor where all the other buildings of it’s time (circa 1924) have long since been torn down and replaced with taller, newer giant glass boxes.

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Finally one last look at another of the famed GCT Eagles.

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