My wife and I find ourselves traveling to Chicago more and more each year as opportunities keep presenting themselves, and as we find fewer barriers and excuses to keep ourselves trapped at home. We’ve both lived in Indianapolis since birth and don’t anticipate dying anywhere else (Lord willing), but Chicago has numerous advantages over Indy. Entertainment conventions such as Wizard World Chicago and C2E2 have been our primary motivations, but those are just the first items on the brainstorming list.
Next weekend is the fourth annual Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo (that “C2E2” thing I won’t shut up about) at Chicago’s McCormick Place convention center, which my wife and I will be attending for our third time. As a tribute to this fascinating city, and an intro to C2E2 newcomers to provide ideas of what else Chicago has to offer while they’re in town, a few of this week’s posts will be dedicated to out experiences in the Windy City when we’re not gleefully clustered indoors with thousands of other comics and sci-fi fans.
I’ve had this miniseries in mind for a long time, but had trouble deciding where to begin. In an amazing bit of timing, the WordPress.com Daily Post finally sparked a moment of clarity for me on Friday with their latest Weekly Photo Challenge. Thus we start with the most blindingly obvious attribute you can’t possibly overlook when you arrive in downtown Chicago proper: everywhere you turn, it won’t stop reaching up to the heavens.
Exhibit A: the south end of the Magnificent Mile, their world-famous stretch of big-name upscale shops and shopping plazas, seen here from the intersection of Michigan Avenue and Wacker Drive.
Chicago is home to the tallest building in America, the 1,451-foot-tall, 110-story Willis Tower. Americans knew it as the Sears Tower until 2009, when a gigantic British insurance company bought the naming rights and retroactively ruined all our almanacs and travel guides.
The second-tallest building in America is nestled in this photo between other random monuments to man’s construction skills. See the spike in the back? That’s the apex of the 1,389-foot-tall Trump International Hotel and Tower. Several other Chicago artifices rank in the top 100, but I’ll need to track those down on future trips. (By contrast, the tallest building in our hometown doesn’t appear on the charts till #38. Sigh.)
Along the Chicago River you can see Marina City, whose dual towers rise 65 stories, the first nineteen of which are a spiral valet parking garage. Adjacent at ground level is Chicago’s House of Blues.
Sometimes when you look up, you see the oddest details. To you a water tower might be a normal sight. In my mind they exist only in old movies and in Marvel Comics PS3 games.
Attached to the Talbott Hotel is “Cowccinella Novemnotata”, one of several survivors from a former city-wide exhibit called “Cows of Summer”, in which Chicago saluted cattle-based art. Sorry we missed it.
Among the few items on my meager Chicago bucket list: a visit someday to the Gene Siskel Film Center. Trying to coordinate their limited showtimes with other events has yet to succeed. Even if it’s an ordinary theater inside, I just like the idea of seeing the late film critic’s name on such a fixture.
I’d love to know the story of why someone thought that building required that particular jagged edge. Art? Radical design theory? Is it a load-bearing jagged edge?
Even without bizarre attachments or famous names, the skyscrapers of Chicago are good for long moments of gawking, as a focal point while you stand amidst the never-ending crowds and tune in to the bustling city vibe…well, except for this single rare split-second in which everyone vanished when I snapped the pic. I promise, unless you’re up and about at 7 a.m. on a Saturday, there are teeming crowds.
To be continued!