Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Near Groningen, Netherlands.

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? Just wandering the Netherlands.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Chicago Greeter Tour

Tuesday was such a busy day that it's going to be tough to put it all into one post. So we're not going to! In fact, this will be the first of a series of posts over the next few days as we detail each activity on it's own in order to give you the best view of Chicago from our eyes.

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!


  1. Chicago Tribune Tower is my favorite bldg in Chicago too. Our girls went to The Bean at night. Said it was awesome.
    The Chase Tower fountain is lovely. I read where people on their lunch hour sit by it to cool off.
    I love the way the river runs right through the heart of the city. Chicago is truly a beautiful city. Your photos do it justice!

  2. The Willis Tower origianlly was the Sears Tower. The Chase building was also was something else. Looks like big business buys and sells those big buildings like we do patios!! And that Bean, I liked it because if I stood just right I actually looked skinny! Too bad I couldn't carry it around with me.....

  3. Welcome to Chicago! You did pick a great day to come, the day before the weather wasn't so friendly!

    I love this city to visit the sites and work but I could never live here.

    Have fun!


  4. Love the header picture. I never wanted to visit Chicago...until now. Thanks for the tour, can't wait to see more.

  5. What about Sam's favorite building, Wrigley Field. Holy Cow the Cubs win it. Have a great time. be safe out there. Sam & Donna.

  6. The tour is great so far. Keep it up.

  7. Enjoying your views of Chicago. Thanks for sharing...now I won't have to go there, for sure!

  8. THANKS for the architectural tour - perfect for me! So hope I can make it there one day too!

  9. Interesting. The company I retired from (Diebold) had its first real growth spurt after the Chicago fire when all of the safes of their manufacture survived intact with the contents safe.

  10. I grew up in Illinois and we both love Chicago. Thanks for the great tour!

  11. The Chicago Greeter Tour sounds like a great idea - thanks so much for showing us around. We've been thru Chicago several times but never really toured there.

  12. Been there, done that, got the T-shirt. And i'd love to go back and get anew one! What an awesome city. The year we were there we got to see the river dyed green.

  13. Been to Chicago many times but didn't know about these tours. It would be great to have all the history on these amazing buildings.


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