CHICAGO ARCHITECTURE RIVER CRUISE

Chicago Architecture River Cruise

It has been three years since my son moved to Chicago to attend the University of Chicago Law School. It seems like just yesterday that I was helping him decorate his studio apartment. The following year his then fiancée finished medical school in Philadelphia, moved to Chicago for her Residency, and once again I made the trip to Chicago to help them decorate their new apartment. I made a couple of quick trips to Chicago to visit them after that, but each time was too busy to do much sightseeing. So last Friday my husband and I had a very exciting reason to go to Chicago, our son was graduating from law school!

CHICAGO ARCHITECTURE RIVER CRUISE | University of Chicago Law School Graduation | www.AfterorangeCounty.com

Other than attending the graduation ceremony and eating at some really good restaurants, we had 4 days to explore and do some touristy things. I had a few things I’d been wanting to do ever since our son moved to Chicago, and at the top of the list was to take the Chicago Architecture River Cruise.

CHICAGO ARCHITECTURE RIVER CRUISE | www.AfterorangeCounty.com

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My daughter-in-law said that the best river cruises were those put on by the Chicago Architecture Foundation Center. So, we walked from our hotel on Michigan Ave. to the Southeast corner of the Michigan Avenue Bridge at Wacker Dr. There we saw the blue awning marking the ticket office and dock for the Chicago Architecture River Cruise.

CHICAGO ARCHITECTURE RIVER CRUISE | www.AfterorangeCounty.com

The Foundation uses a fleet of attractive, clean and comfortable tour boats in association with Chicago’s First Lady Boat Tours. The tour commentary is delivered by the Chicago Architecture Center’s expertly trained docent volunteers. They tell the stories behind more than 50 buildings along the Chicago River. Our docent, Bill, was simply superb, and so knowledgeable that we assumed he was an architect. But we were very surprised to learn he was a retired lawyer! He was an absolute wealth of information, and talked continually through the 90-minute tour without a script.

As someone who loves home decor and design, I have to admit I’m not particularly interested in architecture. But I am interested in the beautiful, historic buildings of Chicago and wanted to see the city and learn more about it. Well, having taken both this Chicago River Architecture Cruise and the Hop-On-Hop-Off Bus Tour, let me assure you, the best way to see Chicago is from the river. The first building we saw when we commenced the tour was the Michigan Ave. Apple Store. It’s an airy glass box with a curved-edge roof. It’s quite a building!

The next building to come into view was the historic Wrigley Building clad in white terra cotta. The bell tower on top was modeled after the Giralda bell tower in Seville, Spain.

CHICAGO ARCHITECTURE RIVER CRUISE | www.AfterorangeCounty.com

Chewing gum magnate William Wrigley Jr. touched off a building boom when he built the headquarters for his company on an oddly shaped lot west of Michigan Avenue and just north of the river. It was the first, and quite possibly the finest, of the buildings that have come to define the Magnificent Mile.

CHICAGO ARCHITECTURE RIVER CRUISE | Wrigley Building |www.AfterorangeCounty.com

At over 90 stories tall, Trump International Hotel and Tower is a hotel at the base with residential units above. It was designed by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, the firm responsible for the Burj Khalifa, the world’s current tallest building located in Dubai – United Arab Emirates.

CHICAGO ARCHITECTURE RIVER CRUISE | www.AfterorangeCounty.com

Coming into view next is a building whose design is the epitome of the Beaux-Arts style. Originally built for the London Guarantee & Accident Company, a British insurance firm, it’s now the 452-room London House Hotel which opened in the spring of 2016.

CHICAGO ARCHITECTURE RIVER CRUISE | www.AfterorangeCounty.com

CHICAGO ARCHITECTURE RIVER CRUISE | www.AfterorangeCounty.com

This inviting “second shoreline” known as the Chicago Riverwalk was once a shipping channel heavy with the stench of sewage. Now it’s one of Chicago’s star attractions. There is a series of outdoor Civic Rooms along the river. Each has a different design and purpose, accommodating diverse activities, from dining and performances, to kayaking and fishing.

CHICAGO ARCHITECTURE RIVER CRUISE | www.AfterorangeCounty.com

333 West Wacker is consistently ranked as one of Chicagoans’ favorite buildings. This 36-floor office building stands out among its neighbors. Its 489-foot curved, blue-green glass facade mimics the color of the river and catches the reflection of the neighboring buildings.

CHICAGO ARCHITECTURE RIVER CRUISE | www.AfterorangeCounty.com

CHICAGO ARCHITECTURE RIVER CRUISE | www.AfterorangeCounty.com

The River Walk in this area looks delightful, decked out with lounge chairs and fanciful furniture and landscaping.

Gravity-defying 150 North Riverside is Chicago’s greatest architectural and engineering wonder. Railroad tracks, combined with a city easement and Riverwalk requirements absorbed more than 75 percent of the small, 2 acre property, leaving a buildable site that measured only 39 feet wide.

CHICAGO ARCHITECTURE RIVER CRUISE | www.AfterorangeCounty.com

The result is a 54-story skyscraper that defies typical structural logic. It’s quite unusual for a tall building to be narrower at the bottom and then get wider at the upper floors. But that’s exactly what this building does. Completed in 2017, 150 North Riverside takes its place among Chicago’s great architecture and engineering marvels.

CHICAGO ARCHITECTURE RIVER CRUISE | www.AfterorangeCounty.com

This 52 story building is called River Point. There is an arched cutout at both the top and bottom of the building that reflects the shape of the building and the curves of the surrounding river bank.

CHICAGO ARCHITECTURE RIVER CRUISE | www.AfterorangeCounty.com

An eccentric riverside project designed by acclaimed architect Harry Weese, these townhouses were built the in the late 1980s as a way to glorify living on the Chicago River. The 4 nautically themed homes Weese called the River Cottages, were modeled after some housing he’d seen on the banks of the Danube in Budapest, Hungary. Inspired by the looks of sailboats, the buildings have sloped-back roofs and numerous portholes and railings.

CHICAGO ARCHITECTURE RIVER CRUISE | www.AfterorangeCounty.com

The Civic Opera Building is the second-largest opera auditorium in North America, after the Metropolitan Opera House. Built for the Chicago Civic Opera, today it is the permanent home of the Lyric Opera of Chicago. It is part of a complex with a 45-story office tower that first opened in 1929.

CHICAGO ARCHITECTURE RIVER CRUISE | www.AfterorangeCounty.com

This residential complex is River City, designed by Bertrand Goldberg, the man who designed Marina Towers which you’ll soon see. River City includes a 70-slip marina with a bubbler system to prevent freezing which allows for year-round use.

For nearly 25 years after its completion, the Willis Tower, formerly known as the Sears Tower, held the title of tallest building in the world. Standing over 110 stories tall, it laid the foundation for the super-tall buildings being built today.

CHICAGO ARCHITECTURE RIVER CRUISE | Willis Tower/Sears Tower | www.AfterorangeCounty.com

The building shown below is The Merchandise Mart, the building where I spent all of my time during my first few visits to Chicago. For 20 years I was in the children’s apparel business and in those days this was where my sales reps had their showroom. When this building was first constructed in 1930, it was the largest building in the world.

One of the most iconic towers in the skyline of Chicago is the Marina City complex. These twin towers were the first circular apartment buildings ever built. Highly innovative when they were completed in the 1960’s by Bernard Goldberg, the 61 story twin towers with semicircular balconies are part of a multipurpose complex of residences, parking, marina, restaurants, theater, shops and hotel. Designed to be a self-contained town, full of residential and commercial units, Marina City was part of an effort to reintroduce downtown Chicago as an attractive place to live.

CHICAGO ARCHITECTURE RIVER CRUISE | www.AfterorangeCounty.com

The building shown below is the Tribune Tower. In 1922, on the occasion of its 75th anniversary, the Chicago Tribune held an international competition to design the most beautiful building in the world to be used for their new downtown headquarters. A New York firm won the competition with its Gothic Revival Tower design. The building’s crown is modeled after the Medieval European Tower of the 13th-century Rouen Cathedral in France.

CHICAGO ARCHITECTURE RIVER CRUISE | www.AfterorangeCounty.com

It was rather cold and overcast the day we took the Chicago Architectural River Cruise. It made viewing the tops of the building difficult and my photos are somewhat obscured as a result. Chicago weather, even in June is unpredictable, so we brought blankets to bundle up in. The boat serves hot coffee, cocktails and snacks, and does have a temperature controlled indoor area if it rains or gets too cold. We thoroughly enjoyed this tour and recommend it to anyone wishing to see Chicago, whether or not you are interested in architecture.

So there you have it: CHICAGO ARCHITECTURE RIVER CRUISE

Thanks so much for dropping in!

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All opinions expressed in this post are my own. Unless otherwise noted, all photos are the original property of Celia Becker @ www.AfterOrangeCounty.com and may not be reproduced without specific permission.

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