We had a 10:00am appointment for our Chicago Greeter tour. It was a simple process to take the bus from the hotel to the downtown area and we were right on time at the Chicago Cultural Center at the corner of Michigan and Randolph, right across from Millenium Park.
The Chicago Greeter program is free. The longer programs you have to register for in advance, but you can do a quick one hour tour without reservations. We had booked a four hour walking tour of downtown Chicago. Our volunteer greeter, Bob Andresen, specializes in Chicago history, public art, museums, and architecture. If Bob is an indication of the skills required to be a greeter, then the city of Chicago is very lucky indeed to have these dedicated representatives!
Chicagou. An Indian word meaning "land of the wild onion".
The first building we saw was the one we were already in! The Chicago Cultural Center is housed in what was originally Chicago's first central public library. It is highlighted by some amazing mosaic art work as well as two forty foot stained glass domes.
Bob, on the left, showing Ruth the mosaic walls.
The main hall of the old library, now used for concerts and meetings.
Then we proceeded outdoors. Have I mentioned that it was a BEAUTIFUL day!? Well, it was a beautiful day.
Chicago is known for it's very different architectural styles. When the great fire of 1871 destroyed the downtown area, the city became a proving ground for the different types of buildings that could make the most use of rapidly increasing land values.
See the turquoise and yellow sign that says "self park"? That's a parking garage that was built to look like the front of a car. You can see the hood ornament at the top and the two front tires down near ground level.
Ruth and Bob walking along North Michigan Avenue.
Interesting photo of the Trump Tower which opened in 2009. Now Chicago's second tallest building.
My personal favorite building, the Chicago Tribune Tower.
Skyscrapers along the Chicago River.
The clock tower of the famous Wrigley building.
These two apartment towers were built in 1965. Apparently there are no right angle walls in the building.
You can park your boat underneath!
The Encylopedia Britannica building. Is a bit lopsided with four sections on one side and five on the other. When it was being built they decided to widen one of the side streets and so part of the building was cut out of the plans.
Wacker Drive. This road has another roadway running directly underneath it!
In the background, our first view of the 103 story Willis Tower, the tallest building in North America.
The State of Illinois building. Looks like it should be a stadium of some kind.
The Chase Tower is curved. Very odd feeling looking up at it!
People enjoying the day at the fountain outside the Chase Tower.
The Marquette Building is fairly nondescript on the outside, but the lobby has these fantastic Tiffany mosaics. This is of the French explorers who first came down the Chicago River.
The lobby of the Palmer Hotel.
One of the worlds first skyscrapers, built before there was electric lights! The large windows helped let the light in.
The Bean. Officially called "Cloudgate", this polished stainless steel sculpture is simply amazing.
You can see your distorted reflection in The Bean.
Ruth, with our greeter guide Bob. Thanks for the tour Bob!
We totally enjoyed our greeter tour and we highly recommend it to visitors to Chicago. In fact, even people who live in Chicago have probably never seen a lot of the things that Bob showed us.
We said goodbye to Bob and made our way over the the Willis Tower. The highest building in North America. Stay tuned for our next post later this morning!