Chicago – February 2019 – Then and Now

The ‘Time Travel’ series continues in Chicago start with Van Buren Street Station in 1907 and now. Note the Art Museum in both photos for orientation of the view.






The Chicago River looking west in 1946 and now. Same bridges, but not much else (although the Merchandise Mart is still there, just hidden behind Marina City.






Buckingham Fountain from 1955 to now gives evidence to how many buildings have been built in the last 60s years.





Michigan Avenue north of the river from 330 N Michigan again shows all the new buildings, although the Wrigley Building and Tribune Tower still grace the riverfront itself.





Meanwhile down at street level looking across the same bridge in 1955. Of note is the mid 50s Ford making the right turn compared to the Honda Civic today. Both were one of the most popular cars of their day.

Also of note are examples of clothing as well as the change in street lighting.





This view of State Street in front of Marshall Fields/Macy’s has the change over from streetcars to buses. At some point they must have cleaned the exterior of Marshall Field’s as it is much brighter today.





While turning around looking south down State Street – in the 1950s it was large old Plymouths, Packards and Chevy’s. Today is a Prius parade while the traffic blocked the intersection.





Moving back over to Michigan Avenue in the late 1950s shows the recently completed Prudential Building (1955). Not only was it the tallest building around it was the only building on Randolph Street, east of Michigan.

The reason for this was they were just beginning to replace the freight rail yards with buildings. Clearly by 2019 all available space has been built up.





This view from 1960 shows the freight yards east of Michigan Avenue, right in the middle of Grant Park. While Columbus Avenue took part, the park is much better for the city than the rail lines.





The El crossing the river to the west loop (at a slightly different angle in 2019) shows the huge growth along the river from 1960 until today.





The skyline view from Adler Planetarium also shows the dramatic change. This skyline view is from 1965. (full disclosure the ‘current’ photo is from last July, not this last week – nobody was sitting along the stone step along the lake in Chicago in February).





Our final view is from 1970, and the recently completed John Hancock Tower – the first 1000′ tall building in Chicago. This view too is impressive in the changes seen in downtown Chicago in the last 50 years.

Chicago – February 2019 – Various Scenes

With our trip to Chicago complete some interesting photos did not make the various specific topic blog postings.

Starting with the long and thin – from commuter trains to 70 floor condo buildings.





Statuary on a South Michigan Avenue building.





Nearby the neighbors outdid them with this relief (only a portion of the entire sculpture).





The Carbide and Carbon Building’s gold top on a sunny morning.





Reflections.





O’Hare Airport is proposing to build a new terminal and is asking for the public’s opinion with a vote. It is Chicago – vote early, vote often.





It seems most of the newer hotel rooms in the city have photos that look like this – so I took my own abstract view of modern buildings.





If not modern, at least historic and modern combined.






Every time I go by this clock I look for a good angle to take a photo, but something always seems to be in the way. This angle is unobstructed, but doesn’t do it justice.





Wandering early one morning in the theater district I decided to focus on the signs.










Even the local McDonalds got into the act.





A snowy morning in Millennium Park.





Snow was gathering on ‘the bean’, and would come off in interesting ways.





It is an interesting view from underneath.





No concert at Pritzker Pavilion today!





Art in the snow behind Aon Tower.





The Chicago Cultural Center had a display on Jazz Music in the city.








The play Chicago was also featured – including some of the real life models for Roxie Hart – Beulah Annan and Belva Gaertner.

Both Beulah and Belva had been charged with murder in 1924, but were acquitted. Amazingly the first play was in 1927 and Belva attended the premier!





Chicago – February 2019 – Art Deco Skyscraper Details

We continued the architecture tours with ‘Art Deco Along The Riverfront’. This tour took us into many buildings we had been in before, but each docent will focus on different details, so you always come away with a new appreciation of the building.

We started on the Wacker Drive side of 333 North Michigan Avenue.





This building has granite at the bottom and limestone the rest of the way with reliefs carved into the stone on the exterior.





The elevator lobbies are great. The concept of Art Deco was it was new, young and fresh, and the doors that have decorative panels by Albert Stewart called Night Day illustrate that.

The panels show two young adults in a manner that 5 years earlier would’ve been unacceptable with their ‘risque’ look.





All Art Deco buildings have great letter boxes, and 333 North Michigan was the same. The letter box became a favorite subject for me of this tour.






We went back to the Carbide and Carbon Building. Each docent we have had has a slightly different story on the inspiration of this building, champaign bottle, battery, etc.

Our docent Jeff said it was modeled after the American Radiator Building in New York. Below is the Carbine and Carbon Building.


This photo off of the internet is the American Radiator Building. It seems obvious Carbide and Carbon Building was designed from this look.






The Water Street view of the building shows much of the detail on the exterior.





The Michigan Avenue entrance is the most impressive.





Once inside it is Art Deco heaven. The radiator grills.





The lobby lighting and mezzanine railing.





The letter box.





The elevator door detail. The full elevator lobby photo is the featured photo for this posting.





Even the trash cans have style.





We moved just down the block to the Chicago Auto Club building, now a Hampton Inn.





Again it seems every tour took us into this building, but close observation reveals more details previously missed.





Yet another letter box – which is best is up to individual opinions.





The detail of the balcony, with the light reacting strangely in this photo.





Since it was once a motor club they have retained where the maps used to be set out for the travelers (alas no maps anymore)





Lighting and wall detail.





The famed mural/map of American roads of the mid 1920s.





As we continued down Wacker Drive there was evidence of other Art Deco style, including the lighting, since Wacker Drive was built at about the same time.





While not all of the bridge houses are in Art Deco, this one is.





We passed by 121 West Wacker without going in the lobby, as it is under renovation. This building is interesting as it mirrors closely the Chicago Board of Trade Building – visible way down LaSalle Street in the lower right of this photo.





At the corner of Lake and Wells is the Trustees System Services Building. This building is unique with the mix of materials and the progressively lighter to give the illusion the building is taller than it is.





The interior of the large windows has a great art piece.





The main stairs depict someone who saves as good (on the left) and someone who didn’t as bad (on the right). Ironically the people who built the building were shysters and went bankrupt early in the depression, causing a riot outside the building.





Our last stop was the famed Merchandise Mart. This massive building has nearly as many square feet as the Willis Tower, more than the World Trade Center in New York at 4 million square feet.





Built in the Art Deco style, it has less ‘bling’ than others, but still many nice features.





The building logo is in the granite floors.





The interior of the building is 2 blocks long.





Our last letter box of the tour.





Jules Gierin completed 17 murals for the lobby depicting commerce throughout the world.





Our last stop on our tour came to appreciate the up lighting common in Art Deco buildings. As I almost always end these blogs, our docent Jeff was entertaining and informative – never having to rely on his ‘cheat sheet’ cards.








Chicago – February 2019 – Board of Trade Building Architectural Details Tour

Another rarely offered Chicago Architecture Foundation tour was a detailed look at the Chicago Board of Trade Building.

We met inside briefly before going outside to view the building from LaSalle Street. Among the highlights is the statue of Ceres on top of the building. The statue has no face, which some urban legends say it was because when the building was completed it was much taller than the other buildings, but our docent says that is untrue.





Knowing we were going to visit soon I was able to get an overview photo from Willis Tower just before we headed over.

Note the much lower glass roof to the right – more on that later.





The Board of Trade Building no longer has trading floors, but when they did they mostly dealt in agricultural items such as grains and animals.

This history is celebrated on the outside by a series of bovines (lower left and right center), as well as the two sculptures next to the clock.

The one of the left is Mesopotamian, which was the oldest civilization where crops began, and the Native American on the right represents the new country (America) and the crops.





The Goddess of Industry and Goddess of Agriculture had been positioned on the original building in the 1800s, but were relocated when it was torn down and this building was built.





This photo shows what the trading floors looked like. Unfortunately they are no longer there, as everything has become electronic. The 8 sides ‘pits’ shape now serve as the logo for the building.






Opened in 1930 at the height of the Art Deco movement, it is a masterpiece in the style.





Art Deco pieces are everywhere – from the lighting in the entrance…





To the main lobby lighting bank.





The air ducts….





and the coffee shop. The shop is named for Ceres, who was the Goddess of Grain. Interestingly cereal is named for Ceres.





More detail on the railings of the mezzanine.





The interior also has a number of symbols for grain worked into the design including this railing.





Since it was completed just a couple of years after Lindburgh crossed the Atlantic, they though it would be cool to include a separate mail box for Air Mail.





More grain symbolism on the elevator doors.





In 1980 a 23 floor expansion was completed to the south. While it retains some of the Art Deco elements, it is nowhere near as opulent as the original building.





They did retain some of the elevator doors that were eliminated in some refurbishing and now use them as art behind the security desk.





The new section is the one mentioned earlier with the large glass ceiling and atrium.

One highlight in the atrium is a fiberglass cow, decorated with the logo of the building – the 8 sided symbol representing the shape of the trading pits.






Gracing the atrium is this 3 story mural of Ceres, which from 1930 until 1973 hung in the agricultural trading floor.





The glass atrium rises 12 floors above, starting on the 12th floor.





It was designed by the same person who designed the Thompson Center, Helmut Jahn.





Returning to the original section, we toured the mezzanine level.





Even something as simple as the staircase handrail has amazing detail.





We went to the basement, passing by the floors with modes of transportation in them.





Our last stop was the vault. We had seen this on the Open House Chicago tours, but it is always worth a stop.





I asked our docent which was the infamous vault of Al Capone, and she indicated she believe that to be urban legend, as everything in Chicago seems to want to have an Al Capone connection.

With that our tour of the Chicago Board of Trade Building was completed. Once again our docent was knowledgeable and entertaining, and the tour was well worth it.







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.