Saturday, April 19, 2014

Chicago's Posh Magnificent Mile

Chicago Skyline from Navy Pier
Chicago is a big city up and down and all around, but I managed to see a little bit of it this week. I'm here for the Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association Conference, and I managed to wander away from the scholarship a couple of times to explore. Mind you, I didn't bring my big camera and its collection of lenses on this trip, so what you are seeing are iPhone shots. I'm happy with them...for now.

After my presentation was delivered, applauded, and scrutinized, I took off through the strong wind to visit Navy Pier for some lunch. This pier dates back to 1916 and juts out into Lake Michigan. This is a cool place where you would bring your family if you have one, and enjoy the shops, IMAX theater, and inexpensive restaurants where I consumed a yummy chorizo burrito. But wait, there's more!
The Crystal Gardens
Climb those white steps and you'll enter a humid wonderland of palm trees with silly fountains that squirt water from one garden to the next just overhead. It's a tropical oasis in this windy, cold city called the Crystal Gardens. The Chicago Children's Museum is up there, too. Just beyond the palms are the Ferris wheel, motorized spinning swings, mini golf, the Shakespeare Theater, and the museum of stained glass. Not all of this is open in April, and I imagine the Ferris wheel was out because of the wind. The place is a popular spot nonetheless.

Turn around for great views of the city:
Here's the Willis Tower, formerly the Sears Tower, and formerly the tallest building IN THE WORLD.
So you should know that my hotel and my conference are on Chicago's Magnificent Mile. It's an upscale neighborhood centered around Michigan Avenue with posh designer boutiques, fancy hotels (mine was on a side street and not fancy), and many restaurants I was too chicken to try. The 1869 Water Tower is a landmark at the northern end of the Magnificent Mile. It's one of the few buildings that survived the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.
The 1869 Water Tower
It's the week before Easter and one fancy hotel fixed up its official Mini Cooper:

Each morning on my way to the conference, I crossed Michigan Ave. and gazed south in eager anticipation of my upcoming symphonic adventure which is featured on my other blog here. This is looking south on the Magnificent Mile on a bright and windy April morning:

Marking the southern end of the Magnificent Mile Is the Wrigley Building. It's impossible to capture the coolness of this building in one photo. It's partially modeled on the Giralda Tower in Seville, Spain. It's actually two buildings, North and South, linked by three walkways.

And then, just south of the enormous Wrigley Building, is the Chicago River. Next time I'm here, I will definitely sign up for the famous Architectural River Tour and cruise through this skyscraper gorge!