Return to Chicago


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Oct 24, 2009
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It has been five years this month since I last visited Chicago and posted a photo
thread of the city. Photos with snow and a few others from December, 2016, are
included in these posts.

This photo thread has an emphasis on architecture since Chicago’s architectural legacy is well-regarded.
Because there are so many interesting locations in downtown, this thread is longer than others I’ve posted.

The Chicago Architecture Center, founded in 1966, says that its mission “is to inspire people to discover why design matters”.



Helmut Jahn passed away this year and CAC mounted a retrospective of his architectural achievements. - Helmut Jahn: Life + Architecture presents important designs by the powerhouse architect, ranging from signature early projects like the crystalline Michigan City Public Library (1977) and Chicago’s dazzlingly provocative James R. Thompson Center (1985) to the transformational urban marketplace Sony Center in Berlin (2000) and the forward-looking Pritzker Military Archives Center, currently under construction in Somers, Wisconsin.

I will refer to eight of the list of “10 Buildings You Should Know” in the photo thread.


The Chicago Tribune tower now houses luxury apartments.
Wikipedia - The Tribune Tower is a 470-foot-tall (140 m), 36-floor skyscraper located at 435 North Michigan Avenue. Built between 1923 and 1925, the international design competition for the tower became a historic event in 20th-century architecture.[1] - The winning entry was designed by New York architects Raymond Hood and John Mead Howells. Hood and Howells’ winning Gothic Revival tower used architectural ideas borrowed from the past. The lower office block is sheathed in Indiana limestone with vertical piers and horizontal spandrels characteristic of Art Deco. The building's crown recalls a Medieval European tower, imitating the Butter Tower of the 13th-century Rouen Cathedral in France. Inside, visitors encounter a Hall of Inscriptions. Carved into the lobby walls are famous quotations from Benjamin Franklin, Voltaire, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, praising and exalting freedom of the press.

465 North Park Drive Apartments - The building’s unique design, derived from three ellipses that overlap, slide apart, and cant, powerfully enhances the city’s architectural landscape and skyline with its fluid, shifting presence and glowing “Crown”. Completed 2018

Loews Chicago Hotel, 52 stories, completed 2015. - the hotel “owes much of its design to Carl Sandburg’s Chicago. You’ll even see text from the poem in large script type on guest elevators.”
“Hog butcher to the World, Maker, Stacker of Wheat, Player with Railroads and the Nation’s Freight Handler”. The 1914 poem includes the following two lines, “Stormy, husky, brawling” and “City of the Big Shoulders”
“Carl Sandburg was awarded three Pulitzer Prizes in his lifetime.”

NBC entrance - NBC TOWER IS ONE OF THE BEST examples of postmodern architecture influenced by Art Deco architecture in its design.
Wikipedia - design by Adrian D. Smith of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, completed in 1989.


The St. Regis Chicago
Wikipedia - The St. Regis Chicago, formerly Wanda Vista Tower, is a 101-story, 1,198 ft (365 m) supertall skyscraper in Chicago, Illinois.[2][3][4][5][6][7] Construction started in August 2016, and was completed in 2020.[8] Upon completion it became the city's third-tallest building surpassing the Aon Center. Designed by architect Jeanne Gang and her architectural firm, Studio Gang Architects, it is the tallest structure in the world designed by a woman.[10] - Raised in Belvidere, IL, Gang earned her Bachelor of Science in Architecture from the University of Illinois in 1986 and a Master of Architecture with Distinction from the Harvard Graduate School of Design in 1993.
The St. Regis contains 393 condominium residences, and 191 hotel rooms.

221 E Grand Ave

December, 2016, N Michigan Avenue, also known as the Magnificent Mile

875 N. Michigan Ave
When the building topped out on May 6, 1968,[1] it was the second-tallest building in the world after the Empire State Building, - Wikipedia - If you're looking for an example of Chicago's role in innovative skyscraper design, look no further than 875 N. Michigan Ave (John Hancock Center).
This 1,499-foot (456.9-meter) skyscraper’s groundbreaking engineering helped to make buildings taller than 100 stories—a new possibility—and freed skyscrapers to come from their traditional rectilinear shapes.
Skidmore, Owings & Merrill chose a bold form for the 875 N. Michigan Ave. The tapered rectangular tube—with giant trusses on each of the four sides—doesn’t hide how the building stands up. The X-bracing on the building's exterior enables it to resist wind loads. The lateral load-resisting system also reduces the need for internal columns, opening up the building’s interior and increasing available floor space.
Engineer Fazlur Khan's idea of the "trussed tube system" was an important stage in the development of the skyscraper. This design made it possible to build to unprecedented heights.

Chicago Water Tower
Wikipedia - Built to enclose the tall machinery of a powerful water pump in 1869, it became particularly well known
when it survived the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 -- although the area around it was burnt to the ground.

The Starbucks Reserve Roastery has an interior design which is unlike any that I have experienced
due to floors which have similar curves and the same color scheme throughout.


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Water Tower Place interior store fronts


N Michigan Avenue store fronts and windows




TM7U962h.jpg -
The Gentlemen Statues were created by Ju Ming and installed in 2015 in the AMA Plaza. The sculpture is blocky and minimalist, Ming’s signature style, reducing the figures to their basic forms. 330 N Wabash Ave


YT87K5Hh.jpg - Located on the Chicago River, the World of Whirlpool is an experience like no other. From creative workshops to hands-on kitchen demonstrations, you’ll find unique experiences that help you make everyday life more doable.

The Merchandise Mart opened in 1930 and is a leading retailing and wholesale destination - Wikipedia

The Loop downtown area is defined by the elevated tracks of the Chicago Transit Authority subway trains that form a rectangle.
Wabash Ave trestle

Wells Ave trestle

Wells Ave bridge over Chicago River

Red Line’s Lake Station is a stage for buskers. The elderly man was very good at playing the violin.

Was previously unaware that the downtown Loop area has a series of pedestrian tunnels called Pedways. Some sections are nice enough while other sections are drab.

This Pedway led to City Hall

City Hall, 121 North LaSalle Street, was completed in 1911 -
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9r6tnwsh.jpg, December 15, 2021 -
The Helmut Jahn-designed postmodern, state government, James R. Thompson Center will be sold to a developer who will keep the tower’s signature soaring atrium open and not subdivided with plans to landscape the interior atrium for a “Hanging Gardens of Babylon” feel and a recladding of the curtain wall. A mixed-use complex is planned. All-in-all, however, this could be considered a major win for preservationists.

The James R Thompson building’s current appearance.






Historic Quincy Station on the Loop’s elevated tracks - Opened in 1897 and designated a Chicago Landmark in 2017, renovated in 2018



Union Station - Named a Chicago landmark in 2002 and designated one of “America’s Great Places” in 2012 by the American Planning Association.
Amtrak, take a bow. The restoration of the Great Hall and its skylight is beautiful.








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West Monroe Street, Bridge Tender House - Chicago hired its first tenders in 1840s to keep a lookout on river traffic and keep the peace on the bridge itself from brawling visitors and suicide attempts. In the past, bridge tenders themselves actually lived in the tender houses.

Two North Riverside Plaza hallway to Metra commuter rail trains at Ogilvie Transportation Center. Heavily used on a rainy day at rush hour.

110 North Wacker, 56-story Bank of America building. Goettsch Partners architecture firm. Interesting read from Blair Kamin, the Chicago Tribune's former architecture critic - Chicago Tribune story
I couldn’t point my camera toward the top of the building due to light rain falling.


A see-through lobby.

Looking across the Chicago River at 150 North Riverside, the building with an outward slope at the bottom. Goettsch Partners architects.

Instead of a line of columns, the V-shaped columns allow a wider view and a walking path that seems less confining.

A special Chicago scene



West Washington Street bridge

No movie making here, but, I can see why movie cinematographers wet the streets for scenes they are setting up. The reflections add luster to the scene.







Marina City, one of “10 Buildings You Should Know”. Some people liken the shape to be corncobs. Bertrand Goldberg Associates, 1967 - Goldberg hoped the convenience of living and playing close to work would help make Marina City a success. It included two residential towers, plus an office building, a theater, parking for your car or boat and plenty of retail space. There are now many residential mixed-use developments in the Loop. Marina City was a concept and development very much ahead of its time.
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increased the camera exposure setting a bit


Aqua Tower, one of “10 Buildings You Should Know”. Jeanne Gang, Studio Gang architects - Each individual balcony is unique in size, shape and protrusion, allowing residents to chat with neighbors above or below. The balconies also help to break up wind vortices, minimize wind shear, shade neighboring apartments and prevent birds from colliding with windows. Each balcony is part of a greater floor slab. Contractors used GPS coordinates to precisely pour each of the 82 designs. Building Aqua was a feat of engineering. Completed in 2009, this project put Jeanne Gang on Chicagoans' architectural radar.

An entrance to the Chicago Cultural Center.
One of “10 Buildings You Should Know”
x7KJkDDh.jpg - The building was originally the city’s first public library.
Completion date, 1897
Architect, Shepley, Rutan & Coolidge
Style, Beaux Arts
Use Type, Community Center
Preston Bradley Hall’s enormous Tiffany dome—the world’s largest—shines with newly-restored opalescent color.
The Untouchables, 1987
This is the spot where Capone [played by Robert De Niro] tearfully toasts Pagliacci [an Italian opera] after the murder of [cop Jim] Malone [played by Sean Connery].

Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park

December, 2016


The building on the left is The Legacy at Millennium Park apartments, 72 stories

The Trump Tower, Chicago architecture firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM), completed 2009 - Trump Tower’s irregular shapes and asymmetrical massing exemplify a free form trend in 21st-century design.




“On State Street, that great street”, a lyric from Frank Sinatra’s song, Chicago (That Toddlin' Town), 1957

Chicago Theatre built in 1921.



The intersection of State Street and Madison Street form the base point of east-west and north-south street addresses, respectively.

Outside Macy’s department store on State Street

Macy’s Chicago is the world's second largest department store by square footage - Wikipedia
The store has some beautiful Christmas window displays.
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Primark opened on State Street in March, 2021, its 12th store in the United States. -

The Reliance Building, one of “10 Buildings You Should Know”. - Staypineapple Hotel The 14-story structure opened in 1895,
the building’s most distinct feature is its shining facade of glass and white terra cotta.






Apple Michigan Avenue, at lower right, opened in October, 2017. - the building’s 111-by-98 foot carbon-fiber roof was designed to be as thin as possible, and the entire structure is supported by four interior pillars that allow the 32-foot glass facades to remain unobscured.

From inside the store; across the Chicago River, the Chicago Architecture Center is identified by
a solid red circle inside the letter ‘C’.
The boat is used for 90 minute narrated tours of buildings along the river.

The DuSable bridge was named for Jean Baptiste Point DuSable who was of African descent and is regarded as the first permanent non-Indigenous settler of what would later become Chicago, Illinois, and is recognized as the "Founder of Chicago". - Wikipedia


Another view of the intriguing 51-story 150 North Riverside building. - Caissons were drilled more than 110 feet below grade level and sunk 5 feet into Chicago’s bedrock to provide a stable foundation in Chicago’s swampy soil. During construction, the building’s location along the river was considered an asset, rather than a liability, when 81 floating barges were tied together to hold a 2 million pound crane that lifted the giant steel trusses. In addition, the largest and longest hot-rolled steel beams ever used in the U.S. allowed the building’s width to splay out from 39 feet to 120 feet.


River Cruise turnaround

Salesforce Tower Chicago under construction, 60 stories, Pelli Clarke Pelli

A section of the Chicago Riverwalk below the apartment building on 111 West Upper Wacker Drive.

Passing by The St. Regis Chicago (Vista Tower) - The Wall Street Journal highlights the design features that make a supertall tower work at the scale of the neighborhood, calling it "easily the most important addition to the Chicago skyline in a generation—no small feat in America’s most celebrated architectural city." - The Residences at The St. Regis Chicago’s design is inspired by the geometry of the frustum — a form that exists in nature, specifically in crystal, fluorite and sapphire formations.



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Lake Point Tower Condominium is in front of the Navy Pier



Wrigley Field opened in 1914, capacity: 41,649 - Wikipedia


Addison Station is on the Red Line


The latest renovation of Wrigley Field, known as the multi-year 1060 project, has the ballpark looking sharp.

The statue is long-time Cubs announcer Harry Caray leading the crowd in singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame”.
He broadcast games for the Chicago Cubs from 1982 until 1997. -


Western Station on the Blue Line

A Divvy bike share rack is right around the corner on N Winnebago Avenue.
From there, it is a short four block ride to the 2.7 mile, elevated 606 bike trail which gets its name from the common numbers in Chicago’s west side zip codes. -



As can be seen, the 606 is a first-rate bike path. Opened on June 6, 2015.

California Avenue overlook

Easy on, easy off ramps.


Entrance lobby to the Willis Tower.

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The Willis Tower opened in May, 1973
One of “10 Buildings You Should Know”. -
The original vision for Willis Tower came to life in 1969 when Sears Roebuck and Company decided it needed a central office space for its 350,000 employees.
Willis Tower was the world’s tallest building until 1998.
Sears Tower was officially renamed Willis Tower in 2009. - When this 110-story tower was designed, architect Bruce Graham and structural engineer Fazlur Khan of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) utilized the bundled tube system to address structural problems never before seen at this scale. Their use of the innovative system ushered in a whole new era of skyscrapers.
The tower is comprised of a cluster of nine tubes connected together to act as a single unit. The tubes support one another, strengthening the structure as a whole. Meanwhile, the variations in tube height disrupt the force of the wind.

Xsno2Exh.jpg - Atmospheric Wave Wall, a new cultural landmark and the first public art installation in Chicago by globally acclaimed artist Olafur Eliasson.
This is to the left of the Jackson Boulevard entrance to the Willis Tower.

"The Wedding Ring Building", 311 South Wacker Drive. A post-modern 65-story skyscraper designed by Kohn Peterson Fox and completed in 1990. It was once the tallest reinforced concrete building in the world. - Wikipedia
It is located across the street from the Willis Tower on W Jackson Boulevard.



Chicago Federal Center, one of “10 Buildings You Should Know”. - Architect Mies van der Rohe, International Style
A three-building complex situated on an open plaza with the Flamingo sculpture
created by American artist Alexander Calder. A monument to the architect’s maxim, “Less is more.” Simplified, modern and efficient, the steel and glass buildings embody the Miesian vocabulary.
The glass and steel buildings are constructed on a rigid grid system. Every element of the three-building complex—every column, light fixture, bench, door and paver—lines up on the grid. From the center of the plaza, you could spend hours finding all the places where the architectural elements align perfectly. In fact, we dare you to find one spot where they don’t. Mies’ meticulous design illustrates another of his famous maxims, “God is in the details.”

The Art Institute of Chicago on Michigan Avenue

Edward Hopper’s 1942 Nighthawks oil on canvas painting is owned by The Art Institute of Chicago. Love this painting. It belongs in a big city. (Picture source was the Internet, not the museum)

Aon Center, completed in 1973 - Aon Center remains a timeless and elegant piece of Modernist architecture that graces Chicago’s skyline. BEAUTY IS MORE THAN SKIN-DEEP
The architect originally clad the building’s numerous columns in white Carrara marble, the same stone used by famous sculptors for centuries. The material was beautiful, but stood up poorly to the wild temperature swings of Chicago weather. Cracks eventually formed, and in the early 1990s the entire building was re-faced with much more durable granite—at tremendous cost.



Wind chimes on the plaza. Italian sculptor Harry Bertoia’s Untitled Sounding Sculpture, 1975, produces a variety of sounds, depending upon the length of the rods, the velocity of the wind and the size of the rod cluster … and manages to envelop those who stand nearby in a gently sonorous environment that is unexpected in a metropolitan setting. -
3ZDTJZXh.jpg -
Tallest Buildings in Chicago
1 Willis Tower 1451 ft
2 Trump International
Hotel & Tower 1388 ft
3 St Regis Chicago 1191 ft
4 Aon Center 1136 ft
5 875 North Michigan
Avenue 1128 ft

Brought my Tamron 18-400 mm, telescopic, howitzer lens out of my camera bag to shoot the following six pictures from, maybe, a quarter mile away. Or was it half a mile away? You get the picture.




0iNrgGxh.jpg, Blair Kamin, Sep 03, 2019, speaking of the gap in the Vista Tower -
“The floor will be covered by a screenlike perimeter wall that lets Chicago’s famous winds whip right through the space.
This so-called blow-through floor, the first of its kind in Chicago, is expected to dramatically cut wind-induced sway.”

The Legacy at Millennium Park apartments, 2010, Wabash Avenue
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Chase Tower is a 60-story skyscraper completed in 1969. - Wikipedia



Looking north from Washington/Wabash Loop station

Dxc0BCzh.jpg - The Washington/Wabash Station was opened August, 2017 and replaces the two adjacent, century-old stations on Wabash at Randolph and Madison.

Patterns seen in the Red Line’s Grand Avenue Station.

Looking down at a section of the Chicago Riverwalk from the DuSable Bridge.
3pxtAOkh.jpg - Strolling along Chicago’s beautiful Riverwalk, it’s hard to imagine just how much things have changed. This inviting “second shoreline” was once a shipping channel heavy with the stench of sewage. Now it’s one of Chicago’s star attractions.
Another section of the Chicago Riverwalk.

Wrigley Building on the Magnificent Mile - completed in 1924, the style is Spanish Colonial Revival; built as a new headquarters by chewing gum magnate William Wrigley Jr. Six different shades of gleaming white terra cotta become brighter as the building rises, and its facade is illuminated at night.

I keep running into brides and grooms getting their picture taken which is a good thing. I was asked by a photographer if I wouldn’t mind moving away from a spot she wanted to use. When I saw the attractive bride approaching, I said, “Why would I not?” I heard an audible, rolling giggle from the photographer. Scenes like these certainly add interest.

Ahh, marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese

Chicago Board of Trade Building, one of “Ten Buildings You Should Know”. - completed 1930, style Art Deco; The regal 45-story skyscraper is the epitome of Art Deco styling. The plentiful gray Indiana limestone piers, dark windows and spandrels—so recessed they practically disappear—work together to give the building a striking vertical emphasis. Its streamlined, geometric and abstract exterior ornamentation, and the building’s throne-shaped massing, are also indicative of the period’s Art Deco trend. The straight lines on her garment and her machine-made appearance make her the quintessential Art Deco ornament for this completely stylized structure.



Can’t help myself. This restaurant was located one block from my hotel in the vibrant River North neighborhood.




The Rookery, one of “Ten Buildings You Should Know”. - completed 1888, 1907; Part of what makes the Rookery a gem is its interior light court. It maximizes the amount of light and air in the building—a critical problem wrestled with by 19th-century architects John Wellborn Root and Daniel Burnham. The white marble, part of the redesign by Frank Lloyd Wright completed in 1907, hides the original copper-plated ironwork that John Root created in 1886. Wright’s updates also included new staircase railings, a steel white paint job for the atrium, decorative urns at the base of the public staircase and new light fixtures. (His only surviving downtown project)
Chicago looks awesome, I really want to visit someday.

The John Hancock Center is my favorite modern skyscraper in the world. Probably my #2 overall after The Chrysler Building.
The City of the Big Shoulders continues to fulfill its moniker. In all its brutal energy, a real city.
Charlie, thanks for the comment, I like the moniker.
Thanks for the other comments, Likes and a Love.
Charlie, thanks for the comment, I like the moniker.
Thanks for the other comments, Likes and a Love.
I was in Chicago for a week in the summer about 14 years ago for a conference. I stayed at a really nice old hotel on the Miracle Mile, Every night my coworker and I would walk west to the club district that had some really good music and restaurants. I loved Chicago. It doesn't have the provincialism of Boston. It's a big city that goes for it in a big way. I love the elevated trains, the beaches on the lake, the high-rise residential towers everywhere, the can-do attitude, the night life, the music. Really a great city.