Chicago Daily Photo

Friday, August 18, 2006

Big John's partner

Last week I featured a photo of the John Hancock Center. I mentioned that it bookended Chicago's skyline along with the Sears Tower. Well here's the Sears Tower. 110 storeys/1450 feet high - you can see 40-50 miles on a clear day...Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin. The Sears Tower held the record for the world's tallest building for 25 years until the Petronas Tower in Kuala Lampur, Malaysia built in 1998. In the fall of 2005 Taipei 101 took all but one title - tallest to the tips of the antennas - which the Sears Tower still owns.

Thursday, August 17, 2006


The rumor regarding the origin of the word posh is that it was formed from the initials of Port Out Starboard Home, referring to the preference of well-to-do passengers to book preferred accommodations on the shady side on ships making passage between England and India. Well the captain of this ship on the Chicago River clearly didn't know his port / left from his starboard / right.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Chicago's Swan Song

Lincoln Park, perhaps best known for it's free zoo which is open all year, began its existence as a cemetery. Named posthumously for President Lincoln, the surrounding upscale neighborhood also bears it's name. Lincoln Park stretches along the lakefront for miles (1208 acres) and contains, in addition to the zoo, an outdoor theatre, a rowing canal, a Nature Museum, ponds, playing fields, statues of Lincoln, General Grant and Hans Christian Anderson, and a restaurant. These swans "swim" in front of the restaurant and add another treat to what's on the menu.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Whatever floats your boat

I posted a similar photo earlier this summer but this past weekend, while I was computer-less, the boat people had an enormous party...I stopped counting at 100 boats. I've since learned the area where they congregate is called "the playpen." Aptly named. There's music and water toys and skimpy bikinis and big beer bellies and plenty of liquids - and not just from Lake Michigan.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Just back from the bar....

Last Friday evening I sat in front of my laptop with a bunch of new photos and a big steaming mug of cafe crème. This evening, Monday, I have just returned home from the Genius Bar at the Apple Store with my now dry and again functioning PowerBook. For those of you who have not yet spilled a frothy, scalding, milk laden cup of coffee all over your computer - don't. My eternal gratitude to the geniuses behind the bar at Apple. While the last few days of being "disconnected" have been tough - it did give me lots of free time to take new pictures!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Big John

Today's local papers report that The John Hancock Center is for sale. The building is one half of the bookends that showcase Chicago's skyline (the other being the Sears Tower). Finished in 1969, it's no longer the tallest building in the world (now #12) but "Big John" has 100 stories of mixed-use space (retail/business/residential) and is 1,127 feet tall. With condos on the upper 49 floors -they are still the highest residences in the world!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Pretty as a postcard

A bit of a mundane shot, aologies, but it was finally a nice day in Chicago and the city looked so glorious without the heat and humidity that I thought I would show her off. The John Hancock stands proud dominating the skyline. The building you see lining the lakefront are mostly residential. My home is on the far left - the building with the tower and the lapis triangle, a perfect match with the crisp blue sky. The building was the original Furniture Mart in town before the industry moved south to North Carolina. Now it, like the others, is a condo.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Time present and time past....

Standing proud next to skyscrapers and concrete roadways Niagara, one of more than a dozen Tall Ships to grace Chicago's Lake Michigan this past weekend, slowly greets Monday morning and prepares to depart the city. It was a magnificent sight to see the ships - schooners, brigs, sloops - parading off the city's skyline.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

On Wednesday and Saturday nights during the summer the sky above Chicago's Navy Pier sparkles and crackles with fireworks. Tonight I ventured close to the pier to take some photos. While not your classic shot of a colorful explosion, here's an image from tonight's show.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Flaming cheese....

As if it's not hot enough in Chicago - they're lighting the cheese on fire. There are over 50,000 Greeks living in the Chicago area and as a result - a very vibrant Greektown with an abundance of good restaurants. My favorite, Greek Isles, serves a good saganaki. Umpah!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

An urban waterpark

Despite being after 9:00pm, the heat is still oppressive. The city feels like a furnace on full blast. Hot, thick, slow. But the folks at the Juame Plensa fountains were having a ball...all wet, slick and silly. The two 50 foot towers showcase the faces of 1000 random Chicago citizens, who about 4 times an hour pucker up and squirt the crowd. While always a sight to behold, during the heat was it's also a delight to experience.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Push me....pull me

I was on my way home from Millennium Park where I’d been snapping both inspired and insipid shots of the Juame Plensa fountain for my final post on the park when I saw the ubiquitous Federal Express truck and for the first time, after decades of looking at FedEx trucks and envelops, saw an interesting, appropriate design element in the logo. The white space between the red “e” and red “x” forms a perfect arrow, a symbol of direction and movement. How perfect! If only the truck and the arrow were pointing in same direction!

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Somewhere...over the rainbow....

I was going to head to Millennium Park today to take a final photo of the Jaume Plensa fountains. But look closely...I woke up this morning to a perfect rainbow. While I didn't feel obliged to chase after the pot at the end of the rainbow...I did think it best to post this picture today and wait till tomorrow to share the beauty of the Plensa fountains and how Chicagoans enjoy them.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Time for reflection....

"Cloud Gate" was created by British artist Anish Kapoor. Locally it's most often referred to as "the bean." It's a marvelous magnificent metal structure that encourages reflection, both of the city and yourself. How can something so graceful...something that appears to float on the plaza...weigh 110 ton, stand 66 feet tall and 33 feet wide? It's almost impossible not to touch and smile and stand in awe of both "the bean" and the city.

A storm blew into Chicago around cocktail hour today. In addition to stray bolts of lightening there were buckets of rain. Buckets and buckets of rain. I think it dampened the attendance at The Jay Pritzker Pavilion's World Class Jazz Asia concert. The pavilion can host over 10,000 people (4000 seats in front of the stage and 7000 on the great lawn). Seats have to be reserved but the lawn is open to all. It's great to a grab a blanket (or in the case of the 2 women in the forefront-folding chairs!), a bottle of wine, loaf of bread and thou and enjoy not just great sound but a wonderful view.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Steely sunset

The Midwest is sometimes referred to by an unflattering nickname, "the rust belt," because of the region's former reliance on the dying/dead steel industry. But the metal now proudly on display in Chicago is anything but rusty. Anish Kapoor’s “Cloud Gate” and Frank Gehry’s concert pavilion are magnificent examples of what can happen to metal when at the mercy of masters. Also, Gehry’s graceful footbridge looks like a steel ribbon and provides access from the east to Millennium Park. The park has changed the neighborhood immensely. Over the next few days, you’ll see why and how.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Hog butcher for the world...

First the fog, now the stockyards. Carl Sandburg knew the city well. Chicago has a rich and "meaty" history and cows and pigs are part of it. Many of the city's biggest names (the Swifts, the Armours) made their fortunes in livestock. So it's no surprise that steakhouses and barbeque joints are numerous and popular. Chicagoans like big slabs of ribs and 64 oz cowboy ribeyes. Big meat means a big grill.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

A good traffic jam

Yesterday I posted a shot of people "fleeing" the city, driving hours to country and lake houses to escape the heat and humidity of urban life. Today I caught sight of some folks who stayed in Chicago for the weekend and certainly seemed to be enjoying summer in the city. What's not visible is the marvelous cityscape the boaters have as a backdrop. With anchors dropped right off Lake Shore Drive they see the skyline of Chicago book ended by the John Hancock Center to the north and the Sears Tower to the south. Maybe that will be a future post.....

Friday, July 21, 2006

Hurry up and wait....

Witness rush hour in Chicago, always dreadful but worse at week's end. In additon to those fleeing the daily grind of 9-5, on Friday the exodus includes all Chicagoians with weekend homes in surrounding states. You're looking at the stampede south to Michigan and Indiana. Ohhhh to feel the freedom of the northbound lane.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

This afternoon I had the good fortune to visit The Arts Club and wander through an exhibition by Daniel Buren, just a day before the show closes. Buren is a French conceptual artist who first came to attention for his work with stripes, primarily black and white. He is perhaps most famous for his installation at the Palais Royal in Paris, Les Deux Plateaux. As you can see, he has moved into works involving color-bold and brilliant. On yet another grey gloomy day in Chicago, the work brightened up not just the room but also the spirit.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Red hot

Less than a block off North Michigan Avenue (nicknamed the “Magnificent Mile” because of the abundant shopping options) sits Chicago’s oldest working firehouse, Engine Company 98, built in 1904. The city’s history is entwined with fire. The Great Chicago Fire of October 1871, which burned for 2 days, was devastating, killing hundreds and destroying most of the city. Urban legend has it that the fire started when a cow kicked over a lantern in a barn owned by the O’Leary’s. Every Chicagoan knows the words to the song commemorating the event…”One night dark, while we were all in bed, old Mother Leary put a lantern in the shed and when her cow kicked it over, it blinked its eye and said “It’ll be a hot time in the old town tonight….fire, fire, fire.”

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

On little cat feet....

Carl Sandburg, Chicago's poet, had obviously experienced the vast variety of weather the city is capable of. Last night a violent storm entertained the city's night owls with a spectacular lightening display-accompanied by soul rattling thunder. As a result, dawn broke rather slowly although the skies finally did part to allow sunshine and summer breezes to beguile those brave enough to confront the heat and humidity of a Chicago July day. Early this morning you could only just see the ghost of the new Trump Tower being built in front of the more elegant, classic and interesting Marina City.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Osterio Via Stato, my favorite Italian restaurant in Chicago, has decided to hold a market every Saturday in July in which the purveyors of the restaurant offer their wares for sale...fresh fruit, artisanal breads, quality cheese, olive oils, balsamic vinegars, crisp rose wines. I use to finish a meal there and say "boy I wish I could eat that at home" and now I can. If you come to Chicago, it is certainly worth a visit.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Don't drink and drive...

This mixed media installation on the plaza in front of the Museum of Contemporary Art seems to "drive" home that message although it's actually titled "Short Cut" which is rather cheeky. I saw it earlier this week when I went to the farmers market but the weather, the tents and the crowd made a good photo impossible. I went back today in between rain showers and got a clear shot. Artists: Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Good day sunshine!

The return of the sun to Chicago brought tourists and locals alike back outdoors after a few days of foggy rainy weather. In a small quiet park across from the Museum of Contemporary Art a group...tourists?...locals?...enjoy the lunch hour under a sculpture by Deborah Butterfield, an American artist famous for her horses. One wonders if the picnicers even noticed the charming sculpture or are just grateful to be able to enjoy a summer lunch in the park.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Another gray day in Chicago

It's a perfect museum day; cloudy, humid, damp. That said, I didn't actually go inside the Museum of Science & Industry. It is, after all, a workday! But the building has always been a favorite of mine. It was originally the Palace of Fine Arts at the World's Columbian exposition of 1893. If you haven't read The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson you should; it's a masterful telling of Chicago's triumphant battle to host the World's Fair, the architect Daniel Burnham's heroic struggle to build the fair and H.H. Holmes' awful use of the fair as a source of victims in his killing spree. I wonder if Mr. Holmes visited the Palace of Fine Arts during the fair and we now follow in his footsteps when we visit the Boeing 757 or the German U-505....

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Selling sunflowers in the rain

While cities, towns and villages around the globe enjoy daily or weekly markets year round, Chicago's "farmers markets" are summer only affairs. The plaza in front of the Museum of Contemporary Art hosts a market every Tuesday and today's rain didn't keep devotees from showing up to buy fresh blueberries and cherries from Michigan or sweet Indiana corn or locally baked breads and pies. The sunflowers offered the only bit of yellow on an unusually grey Chicago summer day.

Monday, July 10, 2006

One block and a 100 years apart.....

Today I was struck by the contrast between two of the city's most iconic buildings. The strong structural lines of the John Hancock Center (1969) stand in crisp contrast to the delicate Gothic style of the Chicago Water Tower (1869). 100 years and seemingly millions of miles apart, the two structures are examples of the diversity and differences you find living side by side in the city.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Saturday Morning at Olive Park Beach

Chicago proper has 31 beaches. While not terribly original, most have been named after the nearest cross street making them, at least, easy to find. Olive Park is close to Navy Pier and no where near as crowded as Oak Street or North Avenue Beach. Olive Park was named in honor of a local Vietnam War hero - Milton Olive.