Chicago – October 2018 – Open House Chicago Special Tours

We were fortunate enough to get tickets to two Open House Special Tours.

Our first tour was of the CTA El Train Repair Shops in Skokie. Directions to our tour was to go to the Howard Street Station on the Red Line and gather on the far end of the platform.

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For this Saturday morning the platform was jammed with many people not used to taking the train, as they were in town for the University of Nebraska game against Northwestern in Evanston. To the normal commuter seeing a 1922 El Car come rolling into the station would be a surprise, but to this large out of town crowd it was stunning.

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One of the volunteers was dressed in a period uniform.

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While others had their safety vests on. All of the vintage cars are maintained by volunteers – many retired CTA workers.

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The passengers were excited…

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As we arrived at the yard we were greeted by other vintage cars awaiting restoration, as well as the revenue generating current cars.

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The 400 series cars really stand out against the modern cars in the yard.

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But it was time to tour the shop.

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Our tour guide was the manager of the facility.

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The shop.

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There were El cars in various states of repair.

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This station refurbishes the wheels.

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While another lifts the entire car for easy access.

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They also have some bays with pits to get underneath the cars.

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A great Chicago tradition is the Holiday Train. Started in 1992, the Holiday Train is a labor of love for the CTA employees who volunteer to work on the cars, as well as the public. During the holiday season the Holiday Train visits every El station on every line, usually taking food baskets to local organizations.

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Another vintage car along ithe snow removal engine (minus the blower)

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The El Cars have springs and shocks like a regular car, just much larger.

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An axle and wheels.

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A pile of wheels waiting on refurbishing.

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A collection of contact shoes that connect the train to the third rail to provide power to the engines.

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A series of trucks ready to go. After this we headed back to our vintage car and returned to Howard Street Station.

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Our second tour of the day was the Chicago Tribune Printing Facility

The Chicago Tribune Freedom Center is a printing and inserting facility located along the Chicago River. Built in 1981, it was located along the river with the theory of bringing the paper products directly into the facility by boat, but the first shipment showed that with the bend in the river, the bridges and the building itself they couldn’t get to the dock. While the doors are still there they have never been used for their original purpose.

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Our guide was someone from the receiving department.

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Our tour of the 800,000 square foot facility started in the warehouse with massive 1 ton rolls of paper.

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From this warehouse they are loaded onto carts that are electronically routed (via a wire in the floor – 1980s technology at it’s finest) to the appropriate press.

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There are a total of 10 massive presses that are used. The Tribune facility prints not only their own newspaper, but also for the regional suburban newspapers, the New York Times and Wall Street Journal for the Midwest, and even their local competitor the Chicago Sun Times.

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The tour group was very focused.

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The massive printing presses are very cool.

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The Chicago Tribune Printing Facility was a great tour – one of the best we have done.

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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.

 

 

Chicago – October 2018 – Open House Part 2

Open House Chicago continue…

 

The North Leg of the Chicago River toward Chicago Avenue – clearly we are in … Chicago.

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151 North Franklin – a new, nondescript building saved by a great rooftop deck.

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Some strange lighting on a nearby building.

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180 North LaSalle – it was billed as Open House, but really just a lobby was open.

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Another (brief) revisit – The Builders Building. But this skylight is worth it.

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20 West Kinzie – Originally a Google Building it is now home to a flexible work space group called We Works.

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Their 17th floor common space offered some different aspects on some iconic buildings.

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They too have a nice outdoor space on the 17th floor.

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Just up the street in a 100 year old warehouse is the architectural firm of Ross Barney.

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330 North Wabash – Miles van der Rohe designed this basic, yet famed 695’ high skyscraper.

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The minimalist, but stylish lobby.

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Originally built for IBM and completed after Rohe’s death in 1969, the Open House Chicago event was held on the 15th floor in the offices of Thornton Tomasetti.2018 10 13 316 Chicago Open House.jpg

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This firm is a leader in engineering design, focusing on mechanical engineering of many famed skyscrapers around the world.

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Our final stop of the day – the John Hancock Observation Deck. Definitely not part of Open House Chicago, but worth the visit on this partly cloudy day.

We arrived about an hour before sunset and barely made it up in time, but we did!

Enjoy sunset and night time in Chicago.

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continued….

 

Chicago – October 2018 – Open House Part 3

Day 3 of touring the city with Open House Chicago started with another building that is not officially part of the tour – Union Station.

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Union Station is in my opinion the second best train station in America (Grand Central Terminal is first, and the Washington Union Station is tied with this one).

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You make a grand entrance down the staircase.

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Past the Corinthian Columns…

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A quick look back up the stairs…

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And you are in the Main Hall.

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Unlike Grand Central, Union Station still has the cool old wooden benches.

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On this early Sunday morning there were about 20 people in the Great Hall, and 15 of us were taking photos.

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The 100-400mm provides close up of the details on the ceilings.

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And the tops of the columns.

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Even the Amtrak ticket office has a good look to it.

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More classic touches.

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While the Amtrak ticket office matched the building this ugly kiosk does not.

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The Amtrak business class lounge is new but matches the look and feel of the rest of the station.

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Across (underneath) Canal Street is another newer section of the station.

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Leaving Union Station we headed down West Jackson Street toward our first official Open House Chicago stop of the day.

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But not before passing this great new addition to downtown Chicago, with a massive map of the Chicago River up the entire side of the building.

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200 West Jackson Street – The Open House Chicago spot was a 28th floor tenant lounge in a recently remodeled building.

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Even though we were on the 28th floor, the Willis/Sears Tower towered over us.

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A collection of south loop buildings.

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Additional south loop buildings.

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Just down the street is the Chicago Board of Trade – one of the classics.

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This is Art Deco at it’s finest.

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We have been here before, but our New York friend had not – what better way to show him what Chicago has than to come into this lobby!

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While minimalist, the elevators are classic Art Deco as well.

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As cool as the lobby is – the basement holds another treat, this massive vault door and safe deposit box room.

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For the really important stuff – a vault inside a vault.

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The security guard/stand up comedian entertained the crowd with his description of the room, and it’s history. He said all he really wanted to be was Hugh Jackman in The Greatest Showman – and I think he could do it. What a hoot, and informative.

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This box is reputed to have belonged to Al Capone.

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to be continued…..

 

 

Chicago – October 2018 – Open House Part 5

Chicago Open House weekend concludes ….

 

Another ‘non official’ stop – The Chicago Athletic Club

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For 122 years it was a private club.

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That has recently been opened as a boutique hotel.

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The lower two floors are public space that we were welcome to tour – as long as we didn’t take photos with the SLR cameras.

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But fortunately iPhones take decent photos, including the classic bar.

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The game room retains that feel of a private club.

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As well as the lobby.

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Interestingly the Chicago Cubs ‘borrowed’ the Athletic Club’s logo in the 1880s.

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Chicago Cultural Center

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Built in 1893 as the Central Library it has housed the Cultural Center since the 1970s.

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Entrance to the stairway from the Preston Bradley Hall.

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Another view of the Hall with a glimpse of the highlight.

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A 38′ Tiffany Dome – many claim this to be the largest in the world.

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The dome and light are stunning.

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Directly across the street is Millennium Park.

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333 North Michigan Avenue

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The Eastlake Studio on the 26th floor was open – featuring a terrace with great views.

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A perfect spot for checking out the iconic Wrigley Building.

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The Jewelers Building, with a large collection of details at the top (when this building was built who did they think would be able to see these 400′ up — but they are impressive from this vantage point.)

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A close up of the Wrigley Building clock.

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A view across the river to a terrace on Chicago’s second tallest building that will remain nameless.

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A mix of old and new (with reflections of old).

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One of the reliefs in 333 North Michigan Avenue.

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Another nearby vintage skyscraper’s upper detail.

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Everybody was taking photos.

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For a nice Sunday afternoon the tourists boats were empty – everyone was attending the Open House Chicago events.

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Up Michigan Avenue and the Hancock Tower with the Lincoln Park Beach in the background.

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Back on the street we passed the Jewelers Building, with this great clock.

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A repeat visit from last year is 150 North Riverside, and the view from the 27th floor. Interestingly they had the north end of the empty floor blocked, which was disappointing as this had the best views, but there were still some great shots.

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The area to the immediate west and north of the loop is experiencing a building boom.

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The view south down the river.

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Further south (zoomed all the way in on a slightly hazy day) are El Rail Yards and Comiskey Park (or whatever it is called now).

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The top floors of the Civic Opera Building.

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Always one of my favorite’s the Merchandise Mart.

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Notice how the reflection of the El Tracks makes it appear they go through the building.

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Back down on the ground – a view from the Lake Street Bridge north.

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The older section of the LondonHouse Hotel.

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300 East Randolph Street – with an open elevator shaft.

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This building was originally a 30 floor building, but in 2007-2010 they added another 24 floors. For Open House Chicago the 30th floor was open.

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The views were different than all other we had seen all weekend – south towards the parks and South Michigan Avenue.

It was an amazing view.

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With a bit of zoom, the Field Museum and Soldier Field.

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More 30th floor zooming – across Northerly Island towards Hyde Park and the University of Chicago.

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The Adler Planetarium.

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BKL Architects had a model of their neighborhood.

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As well as an overview of downtown.

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The Lake Shore East neighborhood is another that has had substantial residential growth.

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The view from the Columbus Avenue Bridge up the river.

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We ended at the Navy Pier for some night time shots

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As Elwood said to Jake in the Blues Brothers ‘look it’s the Picasso’

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One final view for a spectacular weekend – The Chicago Board of Trade at night.

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September 2018 – Auf Wiedersehen to the Audi

Over the last couple of years the cars have become frequent subjects in my photos. After 4 years of loyal service, and fantastic adventures, the Audi S5 was traded in.

This posting highlights the Audi’s trips it took us on.

First trip was to Western Ohio – and a giant fiberglass bull.

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Most of the time the birthplace of Presidents are honored locales, but not for Rutherford B Hayes – his is a BP station in Delaware, Ohio.

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A covered bridge in Fairfield County, Ohio – The car was not allowed to cross it, but we were.

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Utopia has been found (along the Ohio River).

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The settling of America – on the right is a famed S bridge of the original National Road. Overhead is US Route 40 – the main route west from the 1910s through the 1960s. A 1/2 mile to the left (not shown) is Interstate 70.

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A riverboat in Cincinnati.

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867 feet above the Audi the New River Gorge Bridge. They offer tours where they connect you to the beams underneath and you cross – I passed.

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Polo anyone. 3 horses in the field and 340 under the hood.

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After Utopia, come Paradise – in the Northern Peninsula of Michigan. I find it ironic that somewhere that gets 200 inches of snow a year is considered Paradise…

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The Audi is not on a runway – it is an abandoned air force base in Michigan – with some random Jets parked around town.

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Welcome to Minnesota doncha ya know.

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Big Horn Canyon National Recreation Area Montana/Wyoming.

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Yellowstone. That is not the radiator overheating 🙂

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One of the funniest moments in our travels was the day we ran into a cattle drive on a road in Idaho – this cow spent 5 minutes licking the bugs off the front of the Audi.

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We drove 9 miles out a dirt road at the Golden Spike National Historic Site (where the transcontinental railroad met in the 1800s). Wondering who was dumb enough take an Audi out this dirt road, until a Tesla pulled up.

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Devils Rocks Utah

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Pagosa Springs, Colorado. The hotel was filled with a Corvette Club and us.

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Bonjour from Paris – Texas

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We went down to the Crossroads….Clarksdale, Mississippi.

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We have seen Utopia and Paradise, and now the Center of the World

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The original Model T factory in Detroit. They let my German car go along with all the classic American cars on the Woodward Dream Cruise all the way through the city to the burbs where the other 100,000 cool cars were cruising.

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Plymouth, Massachusetts – National Monument to the Fore Fathers.

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The Marine Atlantic Ferry to Newfoundland. A 600 car ferry and a 18 hour ride!

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Gros Morne National Park, Newfoundland, Canada

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The Audi and a large basket – but there are larger basket buildings in Ohio.

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The historic Cincinnati Observatory and the Audi.

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Watkins Glen Race Track. They were having club racing with little Mazdas, etc – if I had the safety equipment to go on the track I could’ve taken them – I think.

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Age of Steam Roundhouse in Sugarcreek, Ohio.

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The Auburn/Cord/Dusenberg Festival in Indiana. That car is sooo much cooler than mine.

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The final road trip for the Audi – Downtown Chicago with the El in the background. While the Audi is gone – the adventures continue…..

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Chicago – September 2018 – South Side Sights

Our weekend continued as we made our way into Chicago on an early Sunday morning. There were a couple of places I wanted to check out as we made our way across the city.

First up is the Pullman District. Built in the 1880s by railroad car manufacturer George Pullman, the neighborhood was a model for a company town. Pullman was determined to make a town that met all the workers needs, thus resulting in attracting better workers.

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They built many homes throughout. While most of the workers lived in row houses, there are a number of single family homes.

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A strike in 1894 brought to light the fallacy of some of Pullman’s statements, as the workers struggled to make ends meet.

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The neighborhood however lived on until the 1950s when many people left to move to the suburbs.

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Threatened with the possibility of the entire neighborhood being bulldozed for an industrial park, community leaders pulled together  a civic organization and lobbied the city to save their neighborhood.

By the early 1970s the Pullman Historic District had received landmark status. Today it is a National Historic Park, as well as a neighborhood that people live in.

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There is still more to do, but it does live on as a showcase for the South Side.

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Further into town is the Fountain of Time, a sculpture that is 126′ wide x 10′ high. Completed in the early 1920s, it was designed by Lorado Taft.

It’s location is at the edge of Washington Park and the Plaisance Midway.

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Nearby is Jackson Park, and the 59th Street beach. The grasses protect erosion from Lake Michigan.

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The Golden Lady is a 24′ gilded bronze likeness of a statue that was known as the Republic. The original was a 65′ high statue that was displayed in the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair.

She sits in the general area they are planning on building the Obama Library.

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With the University of Chicago nearby there are a number of architecturally interesting buildings in the area.

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The most important building in the area is the Robey House, a classic Frank Lloyd Wright design.

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They are restoring the interior so we opted just to check out the exterior and return after the restoration work is done for a full tour.

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Even from the outside the style and grace of FLW is noticeable.

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The area that the park and the university is located is known as Hyde Park. This was President Obama’s Chicago home, which he still owns The block is off limits to traffic, but someone has modified the ‘Residents Only’ sign to be more appropriate.

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Leaving the South Side we headed downtown, passing Soldier Field. Originally built in 1924 in a Neoclassical style, with columns lining the sides, it has undergone numerous renovations.

The last in the early 2000 added a strange modern look sitting on top the classical columns.

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Passing through downtown, we crossed the Chicago River on Lakeshore Drive.

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While not technically on the south side the Washington Library is Chicago’s main branch.

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Definitely not on the south side, the 606 is a bike/walking path on former elevated train lines (similar to the High Line in New York). It’s name comes from the zip codes for the areas it passes.

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Originally a rail line known as the Bloomingdale Line, it was converted to a trail starting in 2009. At 2.7 miles long it is twice as long as the High Line.

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