Our Chicago

Over the years, Janet and I have made a number of trips to Chicago.  In 1960 and 1961, we did some of our courting in Chicago, so we have retained a peculiar fondness for the city.  Of course, it has changed, and so have we.  However we are all still around, and this page is sharing some of the pictures we have on hand.

Hotel Burnham

Twice, we have stayed at the Hotel Burnham, started in 1890 and completed in 1895 as the Reliance Building, a project of Burnham and Root.  This hotel is located at the corner of State and Washington, really central in the loop.  The ground floor was designed by John Wellborn Root.  The restaurant here carries the name Atwood.  See next image.
Burnham Hotel
John Wellborn Root died in 1891, so Daniel Burnham (of White City fame) recruited  Charles Atwood from Boston, and he designed the balance of the building.  The lessons of the Chicago Fire of 1871 were incorporated here.  While this is a very early steel framed sky scraper, the surface is terra cotta, which would protect the steel in case there were another fire.  Because of the steel frame, this was the first building to have its exterior dominated by glass.  The hotel has 18 stories.
Upper floors of Burnham Hotel
The lobby has been restored to represent the 1890's period.  Electric lights are not so strange, because this was the first office building that offered electricity and phone lines to all its tenants.
Hotel Burnham Lobby
Room 1501 shows the office history of the Burnham Hotel, with glass doors to help light the hall.  Who knows; this might have been where Al Capone's dentist had his office.
Room 1501

Millenium Park

One of the big changes in Chicago is Millenium Park, which was completed in 2004.  This is space recovered by covering over train tracks and a parking  garage.  One of the key features is the Pritzker Pavillion, an outdoor concert space designed by Frank Gehry.  (Can you tell if it's Gehry's work?)
Gehry's Pritzker Pavillion
This is an interior detail adjacent to the stage of the Pritzker Pavillion.
Gehry's Interior Detail
Cloud Gate is a massive sculpture by Anish Kapoor, and because of its highly reflective surface, it is very interactive.
Cloud Gate
Cloud Gate provides a great panorama of the sky scrapers along North Michigan Avenue.
Cloud Gate (North End)
Jaume Plensa's "Crown Fountain" consists of two 50-foot, video enabled towers and a reflecting pool.  The images are patients at various local dentists.  At some point, the all have to spit!
Crown Fountain

Architecture Tours

The tours run by the Chicago Architectural Foundation are a great way to see a lot of Chicago's very interesting architecture.  This is the State and Madison entrance to Louis Sullivan's 1899 Carson Pirie Scott Building.  Actually CPS purchased this building in 1904, and sold it in 2007.  Now they call it Sullivan Center, and Target is planning to occupy the two ground floors.
Carson Pirie Scott -- Sullivan Center
The firm of Adler and Sullivan was also responsible for the Auditorium Building.  This was a Richardson Romanesque inspired building housing a 3929 seat auditorium, a luxury hotel and offices.  When it was completed in 1889, it was the most voluminous, heaviest building in the world.  One of the draftsmen on this project was a young Frank Lloyd Wright.  Maybe he designed these windows in one of the grand stairwells.  The auditorium is still active, but the whole building is now owned by Roosevelt University.
Windows in Auditoium Building
The Palmer House has had many lives.  The first Palmer House was completed just 13 days before it was destroyed by the Chicago Fire of 1871.  Then it was rebuilt and expanded to 7 stories, opening in 1875.  The third incarnation was an expansion to 25 stories on the same site, State and Monroe.  This was designed by Holabird & Roche, and when it opened in 1925, it was described as the largest hotel in the world.  The lobby ceiling seen here comes from the Holabird & Roche design.
Palmer House Lobby
Marshall Field's store was built over two decades from 1894 to 1914.  Most of the design was done by Charles Atwood, working with Daniel Burnham & Co.  This is the 7.5 ton Great Clock, installed in 1897, diagonally across from the Atwood designed Hotel Burnham (Reliance Building).
Macy's Clock
The huge Marshall Field building is now inhabited by Macy's.  (How boring.)  However, the three major atria remain.  One, a five-story atrium, is capped by this irridescent ceiling created by Tiffany & Co.  This mosaic dome is 6000 square feet.
Tiffany Ceiling
In 1891, Burnham & Root designed and built the Monadnock Building.  The north part of this block has the distinction of being the tallest load-bearing masonry building ever built.  It is 17 stories, 215 feet tall, and all the support is brick.  The walls are six feet thick at ground level, tapering to about one foot thick for the attic level.  This is not a building for earthquake country.
Monadnock Building
The client wanted a very plain building, but Root got some decorative notes in.  The curves on the second floor and the bays for the third and higher floors were inspired by Egyptian temples and columns.  The corners have a chamfer that increases from the base to the roof line.  For a plain building, this was very expensive to build.  There were a lot of bricks, some of them very specially shaped.
Monadnock Building
The north building was joined by a south building in 1893, but Root had died and the owners didn't want to duplicate the costs of the north building.  Holabird & Roche promised a lower cost building by using a steel frame.  The pair of buildings had their ups and downs in the 20th century, but in 1979 the owners elected to restore the building to its 19th century appearance, as indicated by this corridor.  Commercially, this was a real success.
Monadnock Building
This is the Art Deco elevator lobby of the Chicago Board of Trade building.  This was new for our tour, built in 1930, but the architects were familiar, Holabird & Roche.  I don't have a great exterior shot, but this was the tallest building in Chicago until 1955.
Chicago Board of Trade

Art Institute of Chicago

The existing Art Institute of Chicago is the third home occupied by the Institute.  This building was built as part of the Columbian Exposition of 1893, designed in Beaux Artes style by Shepley, Rutan & Coolidge, from Boston.  It has been expanded a dozen times since 1893.
Main Entrance of Art Institute
The most recent expansion was designed by Renzo Piano, and opened in 2009, adding 65,000 square feet of gallery space to the existing 215,000 square feet.  The arch, barely visible in the distance, was done by Louis Sullivan for the 1893 Chicago Stock Exchange.
Modern Wing by Renzo Piano
Part of the new wing is an outdoor patio and coffee bar.  This shot shows a piece of art coming down.  We were a bit late to know who the artist is.
Outdoor Patio
The entry of the Modern Wing is dominated by Vater Staat, a bronze by Thomas Schütte.  This is clearly a relative of George Orwell's "Big Brother."
Vater Staat
When I first went in the Art Institute, probably in the late 1950's, George Seurat's A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, only 10 feet wide, just knocked my socks off.  It remains my symbol of the Art Institute.
Seurat - Grand Jatty

General Chicago Views

Chicago is a city of sky scrapers.  This was probably a fortuitous result of the Great Chicago Fire in 1871.  At that time, Chicago was a rapidly growing commercial center because it had become the western-most railway hub, and the center for dozens of businesses, including timber, grain and meat packing.  So the city couldn't roll over and die.  Other good things had happened; Elisha Otis had made elevators safe in the 1850's, and structural steel became affordable (more like 1890).
Chicago's elevated railway was another product of the 1890's, and of guile and bribery in true Chicago fashion.  Lots of folks were not fond of seeing this scene, where Wabash Avenue is effectively a tunnel under the El.
The El
The Wrigley Building, dating to 1920, was Chicago's first air conditioned building.  Like the Reliance Building and a lot of others, this building is clad with terra cotta.
Wrigley Building
The Legacy at Millennium Park is a 72 story residential building.  There are 360 condominiums here, and the building was completed in 2009, around the same time as the Modern Wing of the Art Institute.  The School of the Art Institute of Chicago has classrooms on the lower floors.
Legacy at Millenium Park
As viewed from Millenium Park, the Trump Tower stretches 1389 feet into the air, in Chicago second only to the Willis (nee Sears) Tower.  Trump is on the north side of the Chicago River, making the Smurfit-Stone building to its left look big because it is so close.  Trump is a hotel plus 472 condominiums in 96 floors.  It was completed in 2009.
Willits and Trump Towers
In 1892, Chicago set out to build a library and a memorial museum for the Grand Army of the Republic.  In 1991, a new Post-Modernist library was opened, and the old library was turned into Chicago's front room, the Chicago Cultural Center.  Now it is where the mayor greets foreign dignitaries.  This 38-foot dome was done by Tiffanyin 1897 and restored in 2008 is above Bradley Hall.
Tiffany Dome at Chicago Cultural Center
A skyline view looking norhward toward Michigan Avenue.  The Willoughby Tower (1929) is the tall one to the left, Pittsfield Building (1923) in the middle, and the right hand building is the residential Heratage at Millenium Park (2004).
Along Dearborn Street
This Picasso sculpture on the plaza adjacent to Daley Center (largely court-related facilities) was reviled, but it has become a landmark.  It is just known as "The Picasso."
The Picasso
Alexander Calder's 53-foot "Flamingo" was colored to make it stand out against the Mies Van der Rohe designed Kluczynski Federal Building in the background.  All of this was completed in 1973 and 1974.
Flamingo by Calder

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