To celebrate a friend’s January birthday, we like to spend the weekend in Chicago, about 2 hours drive from our home in Champaign. If you don’t mind the weather, and it is often quite cold in Chicago in January, it’s a good time to go: post-Christmas sales abound and the city tends to be less crowded. And, hotels give good deals, especially our favorite, The Drake off North Michigan Avenue (i.e., the Magnificent Mile). We got a room overlooking Lake Short Drive and a portion of the lake itself. What a wonderful view, especially at night with a long exposure.
This particular weekend, the weather was overcast and threatening to snow. It gave the buildings an eerie look and lent itself to some black & white captures as well.
In what may become an annual event, we took a January weekend visit to the big city. Given the typically chilly (and WINDY) weather and a community-wide post-holiday hangover, there are far fewer people on the streets and in the stores, so a visit to Chicago is far different than in the crowded summer-time. Sure, one doesn’t necessarily spend a lot of time wandering around, but it is certainly a drastic change in scenery from the flat lands of central Illinois farm country. To me, there’s just something about the constant energy of the city, the tall buildings and outstanding architecture, and great art and food, that always puts a bit of tingle in my toes. Throw in a stay at the grand Drake Hotel and a chance to rub shoulders with “the other half” and, well, it’s just a fun thing to do.
Luckily, the weather was far better than it was the week previous (think “polar vortex”!) and most snow had melted. The lakefront just north of the Drake (Oak Street Beach?) was desolate and the water’s edge glacier-like. There’s something about being virtually all alone with nary a soul in sight whilst standing within a city of millions. I love it.
I walked over to the beach just north of The Drake, taking the pedestrian tunnel under Lake Shore Drive. A woman and child were walking their dogs – it was odd seeing all this rock-hard sand frozen rock hard – I’m so used to burying my feet in the warm sands along Lake Michigan. The shoreline was a solid mass of piled up ice and evoked glaciers or icebergs of a land much farther north. I carefully walked out to the ice edge, then had this strange feeling that I might indeed be standing over unfrozen water beneath the ice, and although I could not imagine such water would be very deep, it was an eerie and unsettling feeling. Snap a few pics and quickly retreat (sorry, but I’m not going to risk life or limb for my “art”).
Later we walked down to Water Tower Place. On the second level are two must-sees that I highly recommend. First is the Dr. Seuss gallery with limited edition reproduced art by the famed Ted Giesel, better known as Dr. Seuss. As it is an art gallery, I could not take photos but there is a gallery web-site. Did you know he was not only in advertising, but also a political cartoonist before becoming the world famous children’s book author. Much of his art was never publicly displayed, but kept in a secret room in his home. It is only recently after his death in 1991 that his wife, following his wishes, has this treasure-trove of material been made available. It is amazing stuff and it is hard not to have a smile when you leave.
Second, and also entertaining, is the Lego store, just across the way from the Dr. Seuss gallery. Photos here you can take, so take a look:
Just a few more to finish up. We walked back up Michigan Avenue, past the John Hancock Center (at least this edifice, one of my favorite icons of Chicago, still retains its name), and before checking out I captured some images of the hotel lobby and tearoom.