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Downtown sights

Chicago VT meet day four

View Chicago VT meet on ToonSarah's travel map.

Group photo in the Cultural Center

My sleep patterns seemed to be adjusting to the time difference and I slept a bit later. I'd arranged to meet some of the group for a leisurely breakfast at Goddess and the Baker, and others joined us, so we were quite a crowd. The yoghurt, granola and fresh fruit bowl I chose was even better than yesterday’s muffin!

Lisa and Steve in Goddess and the Baker

Cultural Center

We then walked to the station and caught the L downtown to meet up with everyone else at the Cultural Center in the former public library. Rich gave us a comprehensive tour including the Grand Army of the Republic Memorial Hall and other major rooms. The former, completed in 1897, was built to honour Civil War veterans and their families. Its dome is 40 feet in diameter and has 62,000 pieces of glass. In gold around the room is a chronological listing of major Civil War battles.

Dome of the Grand Army of the Republic Memorial Hall

In the Grand Army of the Republic Memorial Hall

The Preston Bradley Hall features the largest Tiffany glass dome in the world, 38 feet in diameter. Much of the glass is cut in the shape of fish scales, while at the top of the dome are the signs of the zodiac.

Tiffany dome in the Preston Bradley Hall

VT fun under the dome (taken by Isa)

In addition to these rooms there was grandeur throughout, except in a couple of more functional rooms on the ground floor. Wide staircases, ornate mosaic-covered walls (we had fun using our various language skills to translate some of the quotes from world literature on some of these), chandeliers, lots of marble. I enjoyed seeing and photographing it all, but the former librarian in me did wonder how daunting this building might have seemed in the past to a nervous first-time library visitor.

One of the staircases

Part of a mosaic wall and ceiling

Quotation from Victor Hugo

Quotation from John Milton

Outside after the tour we checked out a huge mural, called Rushmore, which honours twenty women who have shaped Chicago’s arts and culture landscape. Of these, only Oprah Winfrey was known to me, but it’s an impressive piece regardless of whether you are familiar with those honoured in it.


Rushmore, and We Will

Nearby we saw an interesting sculpture, We Will by Richard Hunt. And we took a short walk in the underground Pedway which enables people to walk around downtown in bad weather. There was an exhibition there of Victorian stained glass, much of it rather lovely.

Stained glass exhibition in the Pedway

Mural in the Pedway

We then split into smaller groups to go for lunch. I went with Isa, Amelie and Lisa, and we found a place serving salad bowls which suited us. We sat outside in order to enjoy the city bustle.

The L from our lunch spot

We then walked up Michigan Ave photographing some of the most attractive buildings, many from the 1920s. My favourite was the Carbide & Carbon Building, which we were able to go inside as it contains a hotel. The lifts in particular were stunning!


The Carbide & Carbon Building

Michigan Avenue, and a light on another Art Deco building

River walk and cruise

When we reached the river we were too early for the cruise, so we walked along a short stretch of the Riverwalk to take photos from the bridges.


On the Riverwalk

We met up again with the rest of the group at the ticket booth for one of several cruise companies, Wendella. We took a 90 minute cruise which first took us a short distance up the river.

City skyline from the river

The Carbide & Carbon Building among others

Vista Tower, and the Tribune Tower

We then turned and headed out through a lock and into the lake. Of course there were great views of the city from there.

The lock

Lighthouse just offshore


Chicago from Lake Michigan

Afterwards we went to catch the L, but the Brown line had severe delays. Isa and Amelie opted to walk while I caught a bus with Steve. All of us arrived back at the hotel at the same time!

In the evening we ate at Eataly, a few blocks from the hotel. The food was good but the service poor and the space too noisy for the sort of conversations we value having when we meet. It also struck us as quite expensive for such a casual environment. I guess the days of finding the US cheap compared with home are over!

On Chicago streets at night

Posted by ToonSarah 15:59 Archived in USA Tagged lakes boats architecture river chicago usa street_art skyscrapers virtual_tourist

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Chicago certainly has changed since my last visit in the 1980s (for the TESOL convention=).

by Nemorino

Thanks for sharing your views, Sarah! It's great to see the city through your vision.

by Vic_IV

I'm impressed by the wide variety of building styles.

by irenevt

What a wonderful virtual tour of Chicago that was Sarah. Very many thanks for showing it through your eyes and your camera lens.

by Yvonne Dumsday

Thank you all :) Don, I reckon the city would have changed even if your last visit had been only a few years ago!

by ToonSarah

It has certainly changed since I was there in the 1950s and 1960s but really not much since the last time we were there a few years ago. I hope you saw the giant Picasso sculpture.

by Beausoleil

No, we missed that Sally - where is it?

by ToonSarah

I can see why you like the Carbide&Carbon Building, it's quite impressive :)

by hennaonthetrek

Yes, I found it rather elegant - I love that Art Deco era 😀

by ToonSarah

nice tour of the city, the cruise looks great! :)

by Ils1976

Thank you Ils, glad you liked it

by ToonSarah

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