Chicago – June 2017 – 360 Chicago

The John Hancock observation deck has been renamed ‘360 Chicago’. With a sunny day it was a good time to check it out.

South view – Most of downtown including the Sears/Willis Tower.

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East view – Navy Pier and Lake Michigan

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North along the Gold Coast towards Lincoln Park.

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Wrigley Field in the distance

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North Avenue Beach and the faux ship/bar.

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The former Carbide and Carbon Building – now a Hard Rock Hotel.

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Straight down

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TILT – for an extra fee you can be scared @#$%less. I passed. It tilts out to about a 45 degree angle so you are looking straight down 1000′.

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Chicago – June 2017 – Tourist Scenes of The City

With a few days in Chicago there was time to be a tourist wandering around downtown and beyond.

Some of the highlights;

The merchandisers/retailers hall of fame. Woolworth, Penney and more.

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The Chicago River

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Water Taxi and the impressive Merchandise Mart

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Harold Washington Library

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A mix of old and new

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Tourist boat going past the touristy Navy Pier

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Chicago Cultural Center

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Adler Planetarium

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Harbor

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Maxwell Street Market – not on Maxwell Street anymore

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Chess Records – 2120 South Michigan Avenue (also a great song)

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For fans of the movie The Blues Brothers – The East 95th Street Bridge – where they jump the Bluesmobile.

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Cleveland – May 2017 – Harbor Views

Cleveland is a major port on Lake Erie, with most of the large commercial ore boats traversing the narrow, crooked Cuyahoga River. There is however a port at the entrance to the river, as well as an old Art Deco Coast Guard station, all with great views of the river, lake and city.

A marina on Whiskey Island (actually a peninsula) is home to the tug boat fleet, as well as some pleasure boats.

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The vacant coast guard station is a beautiful art deco building that the city is now restoring.

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The harbor lighthouse leads out from the safe waters behind the breakwater to the often turbulent water of Lake Erie.

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The mix of huge ore boats and small sailboats is interesting.

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An amazing collection of bridges cross the Cuyahoga, some are small lift bridges (the foreground is a lift bridge for the railroad), as well as high level bridges.

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The harbor crane with a background of a downtown skyscraper.

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Grosse Pointe, MI – May 2017 – Great Lakes Boating Festival

Grosse Pointe, Michigan is an interest place. Situated along Lake St Clair about 10 miles from downtown Detroit, it is clearly old money with numerous mansions located along Lake Shore Drive, while just a mile or so away is the desolation that impacted much of the city of Detroit.

Grosse Pointe is actually 5 different towns, GP Park, GP Farms, GP Shores, GP Woods and the town of Grosse Pointe. The center piece of the area is the Grosse Pointe Yacht Club, and it’s 187 foot high steeple.

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Each year the GP Yacht Club hosts the Great Lakes Boating Festival. It was billed to have vintage boats (there were 3 that I could find), a couple of classic cars, music (a bad Jimmy Buffet cover guy), and other activities, we found only a few booths of people peddling insurance, a couple home improvements, and a few nautical vendors.

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The Yacht Club’s dock area however was much better. There appeared to be a couple of hundred boats docked there, and this was where the best views were.

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A cadet ship, the Pride of Michigan, was docked to offer tours.

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The cadets all appeared to be high school age, or younger.

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There were numerous large yachts throughout the marina.

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Almost every dock had a view of the steeple.

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The sailing events were well attended.

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Just down Lakeshore was a learn to sail event that from the shore looked like they were dodging the large Great Lakes ore boats.

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Grosse Pointe, MI – May 2017 – Edsel and Eleanor Ford House

Edsel Ford was the only child of Henry Ford, and as such had plenty of money to build his mansion however he pleased. He and his wife Eleanor chose the vernacular architecture of the Cotswolds, in England. This included sandstone walls, slate roof with reducing sized shingles, and an amazing collection of old materials collected and brought over from England, including paneling, flooring and windows.

The home is located in Grosse Pointe, Michigan, a small community about 10 miles from downtown Detroit.

The house is filled with art, much of which is now reproductions that represent the originals that once hung in the home, but are now in the Detroit Museum of Art, donated by the Ford’s.

As you arrive at the gatehouse you can’t help but notice the massive doors.

 

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The house is 32,000 square feet, but with the various roof lines and wings to the building, it does not feel oppressive.

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Situated along Lake St Clair, on this day it was home to what felt like 1000 Canadian Geese, which is appropriate since Canada is just across the lake.

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A large lawn faces east from the home to the lake.

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The grounds cover 87 acres, much of which is nicely landscaped, although not overdone.

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The pool and pool house are detached from the main house by a couple of hundred yards.

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The gardens are minimalist, but well kept, as noted by the persistent groundskeepers who kept getting in the photos.

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Buffalo – May 2017 – Downtown and Harbor Area highlights

Buffalo is an old industrial city that has had a declining population for 50 years. As a result of being a major city prior to 1950 they have a lot of interesting older architecture. As with many rust belt cities, they have also worked to reinvent themselves, sometimes in creative ways.

Buffalo had more grain silos than any city in the world, as a result of their position on the Great Lakes. Many are now abandoned.

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Some have been partially torn down and now serve as a restaurant setting, albeit a very unusual one complete with rebar. Next door on one of the standing silos is one of the largest climbing walls in the country.

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Some have been repainted as giant beer cans.

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The harbor has a mix of old and new, complete with lift bridges.

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Built in 1900, and serving Buffalo ever since the Edward Cotter is the worlds oldest active fireboat, and it serves as an ice breaker in the winter.

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Buffalo & Erie County Military Park

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Federal Courthouse – old and new.

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Grover Cleveland – Buffalo native

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Art deco Buffalo City Hall. Note the Canadian flag alongside the American flag. With Canada a mile away across the Niagara River nearly every place that had a U.S. flag had a Canadian flag.

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McKinley Monument at the location of his assassination.

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A cool old bank building.

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Amazingly for such a small city Buffalo has a train system.

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A great theater district.

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Finally the Liberty Building has twin Statues of Liberty.

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Buffalo – May 2017 – Frank Lloyd Wright in Buffalo

Renown 20th century architect Frank Lloyd Wright has landmarks remaining throughout the country and beyond, most prominently in his adopted hometown of Chicago. While not to that scale, Buffalo has an excellent collection of FLW designs still remaining.

About 18 miles south of Buffalo in the town of Derby is Graycliff. Built between 1926 and 1931 along the Lake Erie bluffs, it was the summer home for Isabelle and Darwin Martin. The Martin’s had a FLW home in the city prior to this home being built.

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Differing from most FLW designs it does not have extensive overhangs, rather strategic design to maximize natural light throughout. Also emphasized from anywhere on the property is the view of the lake.

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Sitting on a bluff 60′ above Lake Erie, it had stairs to get down to the beach. However years of erosion has left the stairs stranded.

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The interior is still in a much needed state of repair, but it does give glimpses of the FLW style. Unlike most FLW homes, this one has a minimal amount of built in furniture, mostly as a cost savings.

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The servants quarters and garage feature fantastic bi fold doors with diamond shaped windows. The diamond shape is prominent throughout the estate.

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Next up is the Fontana boathouse, along the Niagara River. Designed in 1910 it was never built until 2007. While there we met some very nice guys from the Canisius Crew, who showed us around.

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The lower level is wide open for the storage of the boats.

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The upper level features a meeting room.

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The balcony on the upper level offers great views of the Niagara River and the Peace Bridge to Canada.

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The Davidson home is a Prairie Style on a street not far from the famed Martin House complex. It is privately owned.

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The Blue Sky Mausoleum is in Forest Lawn Cemetery in Buffalo. Much like the boatside, and the filling station, this was built recently of an original FLW design, to his exact specifications.

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The Martin House complex in Buffalo consists of a number of homes and buildings designed and built by FLW. The primary home was built in the Prairie Style between 1903 and 1905, showing the amazing talent in that it still looks ‘modern’ today.

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Along the backside of the property is the Gardener’s Cottage.

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The main house holds a commanding view along the side street.

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An impressive Pergola connects two of the buildings together.

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Finally we paid a visit to the Pierce Arrow Museum (detailed in a separate posting) where they have built the FLW designed filling station.

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