How many photos have been taken in Chicago? Millions, no doubt. Billions, maybe. There are photos from great photographers such as Vivian Maier, Gordon Parks, and Walker Evans, among others, plus the tourists in Grant Park. It is an exceedingly photographable city with incredible architecture, amazing water views, a mélange of cultures, and is always interesting. I have my own stash of photos to add to the pile and here are a few of them.
A bit of Cloud Gate can also be seen in this photo from the Jay Pritzker Pavilion. The rain came down in buckets just after this was taken.
Jaume Plensa’s Crown Fountain has been installed in the park since 2004 and always attracts people in the summer. There are two large LED towers with displays that loop through portraits of 1000 Chicagoans. On the tenth anniversary of its installation Plensa installed four monumental heads, which he called the 1004 portraits (1000 + 4).
Without Lake Michigan Chicago would probably not exist as it does. It is a coastal city, just not a salt water city. Further, the Chicago River makes it, or at least the central business district, a riverine city.
Before I ever went to Chicago, The Bob Newhart Show fixed the Marina City towers in my mind as representing Chicago. (The irony is that the Newharts’ fictional TV apartment was located at 5901 N. Sheridan Road in Chicago’s Edgewater community; like many others, I thought he “lived” in Marina City.) Built in 1963, they have become a model for urban development, i.e., mixed business-residential with parking in the lower area. Wikipedia notes that:
The Loop has a great many tall buildings. Indeed, Chicago had some of the first skyscrapers. Below is the Chase Building (originally, First National Plaza) along with the Three First National. (Assuming you are not from the US or are not familiar with Chicago, the Loop is so named because of the loop the elevated railway, i.e., the “L” or “El”, makes around the central business district. Although other cities, e.g., New York, put their railways under ground, Chicago put theirs above ground so that passengers would ride in the fresh air. This was not such a small thing when trains were powered by coal.)
Some cities have bus tours (I assume Chicago does, too), but not so many cities have water cruises. The Chicago Architecture Center and First Lady Cruises run a really interesting cruise from the Chicago River. This is one of their boats and views from the cruise. Two thumbs up!
On a pre-pandemic visit, I enjoyed this coffee shop and really liked the carvings on the front of the Fisher Building. The steel pillar to the left is supporting the L train tracks – very Chicago.
Alas, Harold’s Chicken Shack in the South Loop is no more. A much shinier and less tasty apartment building has taken its place. The Willis Tower is in the center with the Chicago Board of Trade Building to the immediate right. Balbo Drive is named, controversially now, for Italo Balbo, an aviator, fascist, Blackshirt, and powerful member of Mussolini’s government.
Why, you might ask did Chicago honor him? Because in 1933 Balbo commanded a fleet of 24 Italian sea-planes which flew round-trip from Rome to Chicago. Coming only six years after Lindbergh had flown across the Atlantic, this impressed people. Even Time magazine put him on the cover of their June 26, 1933, issue.
Another place which has changed ownership and names is Marshall Field‘s. It is now owned by another struggling retailer, Macy‘s, to many Chicagoan’s dismay. Whatever it is called, the main store remains an interesting building. Among other things there is a wonderful atrium with a Tiffany glass ceiling.
The less prominent parts of cities can often be visually interesting. I like the pattern of the fire escape next to the colors of the Chicago “common brick” in this alley in the Loop. Other people like the color of the brick, too. It is now exported, cut into slices, and used as decorative facing brick.
Away from the Loop and looking south from the Lake Michigan lakefront, Chicago rises from the water. The following photos are just ones that I like. And the Fat Cat is a restaurant-bar whose sign I liked and want to visit. How can you not try a place voted to have the city’s best Bloody Mary’s?