When I see Chicago decorated with holiday lights, the only thing I can say is, “What a beautiful city we live in!”
Several years ago, at one of the Caroling at the Clod Gate concerts, I heard somebody near me say this. And I remember I felt I could relate: you come to Millennium Park, look around, and see this beauty as if for the first time. And you are breathless!
Each time I come to the Chicago Architectural Center, I fee the same way! I want to repeat it over and over: what
Yesterday, my friend Lena from Ann Arbor came to visit me for the weekend, and today was a blast! Not even mentioning how much I enjoy Lena’s company, what a fun person she is, but we did tons of cool things together.
We started the day with the Millennium Art Fair on Michigan Avenue, where I bought two rings with flowers inside, and Lena bought a pair of earrings with butterfly wings (they explained to us that they collect the wings from dead butterflies).
The next neighborhood we visited was Bridgeport. I never knew Chicago had a maritime museum, but there it was! The building where the Chicago Maritime Museum is located is a former Spiegel Catalogue Warehouse, on the banks of Bubbly Creek (Now, it’s a Bridgeport Art Center, and the Maritime Museum is in the basement).
The museum is wonderful; honestly, it’s a pity it is so far from the Loop! If it were closer, I would take more people there :).
OHC is an event I try not to miss. Although some years I was in Helsinki that very weekend, and some years, the weather was really horrible, I would make it more often than not. Each time we go together, Igor comes up with a route we never did before, and each time we explore new places (at least, new to me :))
Last year, there was no OHC due to COVID, and this year, there were way fewer sites than in pre-COVD years, which Igor declared to be a positive thing: planning became easier.
On the first part of our OHC tour, we went to the Back of the Yards neighborhood. The first stop was The Plant – a former slaughterhouse and meat-packing facility converted into a green technology site, housing 20 businesses, including indoor and outdoor farms, beer and kombucha breweries, a bread bakery, and other emerging food producers and distributors. Bubbly Dynamics, who owns the facility, tried to preserve the features of the original building. You can see the signs on the walls identifying different stages of meat processing. Also, the toilets are located in the former walk-in refrigerators. That might sound funny, but I felt very uncomfortable closing a heavy door behind me and putting the latch down. It almost felt like the temperature was about to start dropping right away.
To recap the rest of our weekend activities: after the architectural tour, we went to the Chicago Architectural Center – we disembarked right there, and also, Lena didn’t visit it since it moved to this new home. We saw the exhibit of Helmut Jahn, which I saw earlier with my mom, and the permanent exhibit on urban development, which was very interesting.
The Architectural Cruise is the best attraction in Chicago! I heard once that if there is only one thing you have time to do in Chicago, do the Architectural cruise, and I can’r agree more! Each tour is different because each docent prepares their own tour, although the list of the places they need to cover is pre-defined. I’ve been on that tour at least twenty times :). The docent we had this time was just OK, not great. However, Lena really enjoyed it – it was a while since she was on that tour, and there are lots of new buildings which didn’t even exist seven years ago!
I have a first out-of-town guest who is not a family member! Lena came to visit me from Ann Arbor, and it feels like in the old days, only it is easier now to get to all city attractions. She arrived Friday afternoon, and I started work early in the morning so that I could be done for the day by 3 PM.
After a brief tour of my new place, we headed to the Loop. We went to the Art Institute and saw Obama Portraits and Bisa Butler exhibits; then we went to the Millennium Park for the Classic Broadway concert, and then we strolled the night Riverwalk, and we even had time to have a late-night tea on my balcony!
Today, I didn’t do any remote work at all, and in the morning, we met with my friend Natasha and her daughter (my goddaughter) Sonechka to take a walk on the island of Seurasaari. It is a huge open-air museum of traditional Finnish architecture, but you can’t enter the dwellings in winter. All you can do is walk around and admire them from the outside, which we gladly did.
It’s getting colder, much colder! I was doing my weekly laundry yesterday, and could not believe I wore shorts just last Sunday! But even cold and cloudy – isn’t our city beautiful?! Isn’t in gorgeous?!