Written by GB from Devizes on 15 Jun, 2007
This wonderful attraction sits within the campus that also houses the Field Museum and the Shedd Aquarium at 1300 S. Lake Shore Drive. We’d taken the # 146 bus from Downtown which deposited us within 100 yards of the main entrance. The planetarium juts out…Read More
This wonderful attraction sits within the campus that also houses the Field Museum and the Shedd Aquarium at 1300 S. Lake Shore Drive. We’d taken the # 146 bus from Downtown which deposited us within 100 yards of the main entrance. The planetarium juts out into Lake Michigan and has recently undergone a substantial face lift which included the addition of more technologically advanced systems as well as an expansion due to ever-growing numbers of visitors.There was a reasonably long queue to get in but the ticket kiosk seemed pretty capable and within a few minutes we’d paid our fee and in we went. The main exhibition area is quite staggering in its portrayal of space exploration, our solar system and the universe in general with many interactive models and static displays such as the Mars Rover vehicle and chunks of Moon rock as brought back by the various Apollo missions in the early 1970s. As someone who fervently followed America’s space program at this time, I was delighted to see the collection of personal memorabilia such as mission badges, baseball caps, and documents that were permanently donated to the planetarium by James Lovell, one of the astronauts who successfully brought Apollo 13 back to Earth after a catastrophic on-board explosion virtually destroyed the life support systems back in 1970.Something that many folk fail to appreciate is the scale of the objects that make up our galaxy and this is addressed by way of several displays depicting our Earth compared to Jupiter, then the Sun, then some of the solar giants that inhabit the Milky Way galaxy. It is quite thought provoking and somewhat awe-inspiring to say the least and I found myself lingering at these exhibits for quite some time.The planetarium also features regularly changing special exhibits and the one we had come to see was "The Ancient Egyptians", a wonderfully executed and highly accurate dark-room presentation of how the Egyptians mapped the sky, used it to plan their calendar for crop growing and the like, and in particular, how they noticed the movements of certain "stars" which they later attributed to the fact that the sun was centre of the solar system rather than the Earth.The presentation involves the use of a hugely complex Zeiss projector which "throws" the night sky onto the inside of the blackened dome as you relax in the very comfortable reclined chairs whilst listening to the narrative.Other popular exhibits include the "Shoot for the Moon" display that chronicles the story of lunar exploration and "Mission Moon" where youngsters can experience the dangers and exhilaration of actually walking on the Moon via interactive displays.On site is a busy restaurant selling reasonably priced rolls and wraps as well as soft drinks and coffee, with a good view across the lake and also as far as the Downtown skyline.There is a hugely varied range of entry fees according to the number of special shows you want to take in but the dearest ticket to see everything is around $28 which I thought to be good value, given the range and quality of the exhibits. This is a great half-day’s entertainment and one where it was plain to see that the adults were as spell-bound as the younger visitorsTel. (312) 922-7827 www.adlerplanetarium.org. Get here by bus services #146, 127 and 12 from Downtown, nearest El stop is at Roosevelt/Wabash on the Brown and Green lines.Close
This was another taste of local flavour that time hadn’t permitted back last Autumn so on yet another sizzling morning, we set off across town to experience this open-air cornucopia of sounds, smells and flavours from one of the city’s largest ethnic markets.The original market…Read More
This was another taste of local flavour that time hadn’t permitted back last Autumn so on yet another sizzling morning, we set off across town to experience this open-air cornucopia of sounds, smells and flavours from one of the city’s largest ethnic markets.The original market did indeed occupy Maxwell St but the city authorities forced it to relocate to its present location on Canal St. back in 1994. The street is blocked off between W. Roosevelt Rd and W. 18th Street every Sunday from 7am onwards, allowing hundreds of vendors to set up stall selling a diverse array of goods such as tapes and CD’s, clothes and shoes, musical instruments, electrical goods, DVD’s and videos, firearms, military memorabilia, tools, housewares, automotive parts and spares, foodstuffs, and downright junk, judging by some of the stuff I saw on sale. Add to this a huge variety of food vendors selling everything from hot-dogs to quesadillas, and a selection of buskers providing Hispanic tunes on battered accordions, and it becomes easy to appreciate the experience here.As a final addition to what was already a slightly less-than-peaceful Sunday morning, the railroad tracks to the east were busy with clanking goods wagons as they were shunted into order, there was a highly audible hum of traffic from the Dan Ryan Expressway, a couple of blocks to the west, and to cap it all, aircraft were roaring overhead on approach to Midway airport. Whatever happened to church bells and the gentle mooing of cows in the pasture?The stalls stretch out over four blocks so we decided to stroll along at an easy pace and try to see all that was on offer. You would certainly see many similar goods on sale at any market in the UK but I was surprised to see the guns; one in particular caught my eye, a huge machine gun complete with tripod stand and reams of ammunition although it certainly looked like it could do with some oiling and maintenance. I tried to imagine what would happen if I’d bought it and attempted to get it back through UK customs... I think a spell “at Her Majesty’s Pleasure” would be on offer… Next door to him was another stall with a vast array of knives on display and no, they weren’t of the “kitchen” variety. Everything from Special Forces daggers to massive machetes were up for grabs, along with huge bladed knives that you could easily butcher a Brontosaurus with. The stall-owner also offered a sharpening service with a huge whetstone on the table on which he was fine tuning what looked remarkably like a Samurai sword. My God, if this were in the UK, most of these guys would have nothing left to sell if the local police happened to stroll by! The term “mass confiscation” springs to mind…The smells from the various food sellers was mouth-watering and, having had no breakfast, was really making my stomach growl. We stopped and bought a snack, its Spanish name escapes me but it was essentially a tube of doughnut-type pastry filled with fruit preserve and jolly tasty it was too, all for the princely sum of $1.The various stalls selling tapes and CD’s were all trying to outdo each other on the volume stakes, resulting in an awful mish-mash of hip-hop, rock, traditional and gangsta rap. They all however, appeared to be doing a roaring trade. As we strolled on, we came across a Hispanic chap, at least 75 years old, who was seated on a rickety stool, wailing to such a degree that although I couldn’t understand him, seemed to indicate that all was not well in his life, no doubt, a Spanish version of the Blues.I have to say there were some pretty “shady” looking characters around and several took lingering glances at the trusty Nikon dangling from my neck so, deciding that discretion was the better part of valour, I placed it in it’s bag “just in case.” Well, what can I say about Maxwell St Market? A true experience if ever there was one, and just the place to go if you need a second-hand steering column for a ‘79 Ford, a “new” sink for your kitchen, an electric hedge-trimmer that will probably blow the household fuses as soon as you plug it in, a pair of well-worn pyjamas that someone’s grandad probably died in, a razor sharp machete to murder your noisy neighbour with, or a replacement copy of “Saturday Night Fever” for your worn out video. If you want it, someone here will have it…Close
Written by onesundaymorning on 25 Mar, 2007
As I continued my journey I made an unplanned stop in Greenup, Illinois. I saw there a water tower that said "Give Greenup a Try," so I did. Greenup was a sleepy little town in the middle of nowhere, that among various of other thing, considered themselves…Read More
As I continued my journey I made an unplanned stop in Greenup, Illinois. I saw there a water tower that said "Give Greenup a Try," so I did. Greenup was a sleepy little town in the middle of nowhere, that among various of other thing, considered themselves the "Village of Porches and covered bridges." Although I saw no covered porches I did see many porches so I don’t feel that I was completely lied to.
The day that I arrived it was 104 degrees in the shade so I made my tour quick. No one was around for that same reason. The town was cute with a turn of the century/Victorian feel. Banners hung everywhere announcing the return of one the units that was deployed to Iraq. I had an overwhelming since that this was what an "All American town was and should be." Music blared though the streets from the buildings, although I wasn’t sure what the music was it somehow fit the atmosphere of Greenup. Almost every shop was closed for lunch although it was only 11am. However, the stoeres that were opened were full of antiques.
Around town there are footsteps that you can follow to take a tour. It starts and ends at town hall. There were also signs around town with golf carts on them. You know the signs that signify that there maybe children playing in the area or pedestrians crossing; this was the same thing but only with a golf cart. Believe it or not the overhanging porches on the buildings have made the business district in Greenup one of the places on the National Register of Historic Places.Although I wasn’t there long I loved this place. It was so strange that anyone in Indiana should give Greenup a try.
Written by callen60 on 21 Jan, 2007
As a kid, I never knew what was ‘magnificent’ about this mile of Michigan Avenue. Our family expeditions to Chicago always revolved around visiting museums, and not shopping. Plus, the similar alliteration of ‘Merchandise Mart’ always had me confusing the two. As we talked through…Read More
As a kid, I never knew what was ‘magnificent’ about this mile of Michigan Avenue. Our family expeditions to Chicago always revolved around visiting museums, and not shopping. Plus, the similar alliteration of ‘Merchandise Mart’ always had me confusing the two. As we talked through options about how to spend Sunday morning during our recent visit, we eventually settled on walking over to Michigan Avenue and just strolling down to Water Tower Place. Since we left at 9, we knew none of the stores would be open on our walk north—and that nothing at Water Tower Place was likely to be open—but the weather was mild, we needed the exercise, and the promise of hot chocolate along the way was enough to get everyone’s assent.Emerging onto the Magnificent MileIt’s an odd but enjoyable feeling to walk a major urban thoroughfare and have it mostly empty. I realized it’s an experience you have at night, but isn’t so typical during daylight hours. The Magnificent Mile is largely a celebration of consumerism, but there’s still something that suggests that this is at least part of the heart of the city. A few other folks were out walking, too, some apparently for exercise, some on their way to a destination, and others just exploring like us. Nearly every brand is represented here, and the buildings are a mix of older and newer construction. We passed plenty of places we’d never think to enter, but window shopping, enjoying the decorations, and looking at the architecture still made it worthwhile. The Water Tower stands in the Middle of Michigan Avenue, one of the few structures remaining from pre-fire Chicago. Just east and north of it is Water Tower Place, a mall distributed vertically over seven floors. Here the Christmas decorations were everywhere, along with the notice that a Vince Vaughn holiday themed film would be shot here next week. We enjoyed the fountains that line the escalators, and wished that foodlife, the foodcourt extraordinaire on level 2, was open. As we looked for a place to make good on our promise of hot chocolate, we spied both Ghiradelli and Hershey’s stores across the street. Hershey’s actually has a long-time connection to Chicago: it was here, at the Columbian Exposition, that Milton Hershey saw state-of-the-art equipment from Germany on display, and purchased and shipped it back to Hershey, PA. The hot chocolate was truly hot, and quickly melted the ample topping of whipped cream (but still left a delightful sludge of not-quite-dissolved Hershey Kisses in the bottom).Also at Water Tower Square is the American Girl Store, where we popped in for a reminder of days gone by. None of my kids are in that demographic anymore, but they enjoyed remembering during a 40-minute visit, and eventually we had to shoo them out and move on.On the return trip, we stopped at the Apple Store and Gap, where we considered plans for a new home laptop, heard a helpful presentation on iCal, ogled the iPods and large Cinema Displays, and walked off with a turtleneck for $5.99. More stores were open now, and it was surprising to see a fair number of people shopping (like us) on Sunday morning. As we reached Ohio Street, we descended the stairs to the street below, stopping at the Dominick’s right across from our hotel for lunch stuff (a good, large center-city grocery store! What I wouldn’t have given for that in Philadelphia). Then it was off to the theatre.Close
Having spent the night an hour outside Chicago after outrunning the ice storm, we easily made it to the Field before the 9am opening. As we walked up the steps to the imposing entrance (think National Archives), flanked on each side by hundreds of yards…Read More
Having spent the night an hour outside Chicago after outrunning the ice storm, we easily made it to the Field before the 9am opening. As we walked up the steps to the imposing entrance (think National Archives), flanked on each side by hundreds of yards of columns, we passed family after family with young kids just leaving after spending a overnight of ‘Dozing with the Dinos’.I’d never made the connection before, but the ‘Field’ immortalized here is, of course, Marshall Field, founder of Chicago’s preeminent department store. Chicagoans are probably thrilled that, unlike his business, the museum still bears his name and not Macy’s, who probably engendered significant ill will by evicting Mr. Field’s name from all other locations in town. The collection housed here started with the natural history and ethnography artifacts collected for the Columbian Exposition of 1893, which also seemed obvious once I knew; Field was prevailed upon to finance a permanent home for the collection, a bequest for which generations of Chicagoans and, truly, the world can be grateful.Since admission was free that day, we sprang for tickets to ‘Underground Adventure.’ Those were discounted, too, so my three kids and I saw both the Museum and Adventure for $19 total (my above-ground-only spouse’s museum admission was free, too). We knew the Field’s enormous collection was too much for a half-day, so we quickly picked some highlights. Sue led the list, of course. The star of the Field now inhabits the west end of the central hall, a region that older visitors will recall as formerly occupied by the creature formerly known as Brontosaurus (now more accurately monikered as Apatosaurus and moved upstairs). While photographing the hall’s ceiling, ack! Dead battery! How did I forget about that?! Not even a picture of a Sue!
Stanley Field Hall at the Field MuseumSue seemed comfortable in her new surroundings, after spending 65 million years under a hillside in South Dakota. The largest and most complete T-Rex ever unearthed, she’s named after the amateur fossil hunter who discovered ‘her.’ The Field won the ensuing bidding war, acquiring her in 1997 for $8.4 million, and unveiling Sue in 2000. They’ve made the most of their acquisition, surrounding their diva with a variety of multimedia and standard displays in the gallery overlooking her at the hall’s south end. A series of Apple Cinema Displays show a good piece on how ideas about T-Rex have changed, ending with the tail-lifted (not dragging) posture assumed by Sue; and a second piece uses Sue to illustrate how science proceeds, emphasizing the difference between fact, theory and speculation. Sue’s actual five-foot-long, 600-pound head is here, too, being too heavy to display on the rest of her body (a lighter plaster cast fills that role). Among the examples of what we have learned from Sue is an admission of something we haven’t: although the fossil bears a female name, scientists have yet to find a way of determining the sex of any dinosaur. In the meantime, Sue it is.We continued around the corner to Evolving Planet, a huge display illustrating the development of life on earth with countless well-chosen examples from the Field’s collections, supplemented by new videos explaining the ideas of natural selection. This is excellently done, and takes an hour or more to do it justice. We made it to the sixth mass extinction before moving on. The real highlight is the Hall of Dinosaurs, where the demoted Apatosaurus now sits, along with dozens of phenomenal skeletons of Triceratops and others. It’s stunning to think that creatures this large walked the earth for 60 million years (their reign ended with Mass Extinction #4). If you race through to their large home, however, you’ll miss a lot.From there we headed to some Field classics: the nature dioramas that were revolutionary in their time, and have aged reasonably well, and the Egyptian tomb of Unis-ankh transported from the Valley of Kings and reinstalled here on three stories in the Museum’ southwest corner. This is as close as I expect I’ll ever get to Egypt, and the feeling in the dimly lit limestone passageways was awesomely realistic.After a snack, we finally entered ‘Underground Adventure,’ a "Honey I Shrunk the Kids" foray into a simulated soil, complete with three-foot earwigs, 12-inch seeds, and other subterranean creatures and inhabitants no one seemed too thrilled to see at that scale. I was underimpressed, and my kids found it a little hokey. The displays didn’t seem to capture anyone, although the more traditional installations after we’d been ‘expanded’ back to full size seemed more worthwhile. I’d pass if I were you.After acquiring Sue memorabilia in the large gift shop, we grabbed our coats from the coat check and headed down the promenade to the Shedd Aquarium, ready for more of the Natural World, and ready to return to the Field on our next visit to Chicago.Close
Written by GB from Devizes on 21 Nov, 2006
This amazing building sits on Lake Street and was built to replace the original Unitarian Universalist Church which was destroyed by fire. Frank Lloyd Wright began his design in 1905 but had various obstacles to overcome. He had a small budget, the site was narrow…Read More
This amazing building sits on Lake Street and was built to replace the original Unitarian Universalist Church which was destroyed by fire. Frank Lloyd Wright began his design in 1905 but had various obstacles to overcome. He had a small budget, the site was narrow and on a busy street and, the building was required to provide a number of functions. He wanted to build a church that was more in the style of an ancient temple and it was his specific request that the "church" should be named a temple.Construction began in 1906 and took until 1908 at a cost of around $60,000. He utilised reinforced concrete slabs that were made with cement and crushed red granite throughout the site. The walls, roofs, and floors were constructed using pea gravel and crushed stone, all of which added texture and warmth to the building. He was also one of the earliest pioneers of the use of poured liquid concrete which could essentially be moulded into virtually any shape. The use of so much concrete fitted in well with the low budget but the end results were stunning.For the interior, FLW used transparent glass for doors, windows, skylights and light fittings and the delicacy of this was in sharp juxtaposition to the huge concrete formed slabs that formed much of the exterior and interior, including the altar, balconies, and hearth. Wright also used a great deal of oak to fine detail in the doors and window frames, as well as using it to form concentric banding on many concrete surfaces and on the organ screen. It’s this banding that serves to bind together the various areas of space within the temple and accentuates the plasticity of the concrete structures. It also highlights FLW’s intimate attention to detail.The interior concrete surfaces are plastered and are painted in soft yellow, grey, and green. This allows the maximum amount of light to be reflected around the interior, courtesy of the art-glass laylights in the ceiling. Each balcony has a row of clerestory windows running above and these were set directly into the concrete rather than using traditional frames, allowing an easier transition between interior and exterior spaces.The hanging lamp fixtures are in a Japanese style and again, the spherical globes contrast with the cubism of the building. They are suspended on long cords which have the effect of lowering the roof height.Most of the furniture inside was designed by Wright including the pews but these were never built due to cost constraints.The Unity Temple is a joy to discover and explore. It is open to visitors all day as long as it is in use and there are no restraints on photography anywhere within. The charming lady who took my $8 admission pointed out the scale model that sat just behind her and politely suggested that I make it my first stop to get a real idea of how the temple is laid out and the logical way in which to view it. All areas of the interior are accessible to visitors and the temple seemed to have a good regular "clientele" who appeared to be listening to a bible reading. No-one minds as you wander around their temple, snapping away to your heart’s content at the inspiring architecture.I’m not a religious person, but if I were, then I would love to be able to worship in such a beautiful temple as this.The Unity Temple sits at 875 Lake Street at N. Kenilworth Avenue.Opening hours are: March-November, Monday through Friday from 10:30am to 4:30pm, Saturday and Sunday from 1pm to 4pm. December-February, every day from 1pm to 4pm.Guided tours are available Saturday and Sunday only at 1pm, 2pm, and 3pm.Tel. (708) 383-8873 Web www.unitytemple-utrf.orgClose
Written by GB from Devizes on 20 Nov, 2006
Along with Hemingway, Oak Park can be rightly proud of its other revered son, namely Frank Lloyd Wright, widely regarded as the 20th century’s greatest architect. Indeed, “Architectural Record” magazine proclaimed that his buildings “stand out as the most significant architectural works during the last…Read More
Along with Hemingway, Oak Park can be rightly proud of its other revered son, namely Frank Lloyd Wright, widely regarded as the 20th century’s greatest architect. Indeed, “Architectural Record” magazine proclaimed that his buildings “stand out as the most significant architectural works during the last 100 years in the world”.FLW was born in 1867 and lived to a ripe old age, finally meeting his death in 1959. During this prolific career, he designed over 1100 works to include houses, churches, libraries, and museums. Of these, 532 resulted in finished works of which over 400 stand today. He was a man of many talents and in addition to his architectural prowess was also a philosopher, writer, and teacher. He not only designed buildings; his prodigious talent extended to furniture, lamps, art glass, and tableware.Oak Park contains the highest concentration of private residences designed and built by FLW. These multi-coloured, intricately fabricated homes are a sheer delight as they peep out from behind the cover of the tree-lined streets of the area, standing in their beautifully manicured gardens. FLW built them all on a commission basis, i.e. for a specific client who would be totally involved with the design and requirements for what would be an exquisite home. Many of these homes are still known today by their original names, e.g. the Moore-Dugal residence and the Mills-Decaro residence. Some of these have undergone radical rebuilding over the years both to protect the integrity of the structure whilst one in particular suffered from severe fire damage and was totally reconstructed in the early 1920s.To fully appreciate FLW’s contribution to architecture, a visit to his studio and house is a must see. It sits at 951 Chicago Ave at its junction with Forest Ave. Guided tours are available and tend to fill up quickly as a strictly regulated number of people are allowed inside at any one time. The house was constructed after he obtained a substantial loan from his boss in 1889. FLW believed that stuffy Victorian interiors should be replaced with open-plan rooms that lead seamlessly from one to the next, using glass, wood and earthy tones to redefine the boundaries between interior and exterior spaces. A house should be an organic experience, not merely four walls encompassing a clutter of different rooms. The result was this visually stunning residence where he and his wife raised 6 children.The house was extended to incorporate his studio and this is no less fascinating with its wonderful octagonal-shaped office and light, airy drawing rooms where he and his architects would work. Of particular interest is the suspended gallery, hanging in mid air supported by black metal chains. FLW believed in maximising the natural light available and this is so evident in the studio and house with beautifully made glass panels allowing the sunlight in at ceiling level. The exterior of the house and studio here have not been neglected either and the various sculptures and fine workmanship above the entrance to the studio reflect FLW’s eye for detail and beauty.FLW went on to develop what became his “Prairie Style” of architecture and was also the first architect to use poured concrete for residential properties as well as for commercial buildings. Although this sounds somewhat uninspiring, one glance at his wonderful Unity Temple shows how concrete can be used to maximum, artistic effect.Like the Hemingway attractions, no visit to Oak Park should be considered complete without a visit here as indeed, you should also take a stroll around the neighbourhood to sample the visual feasts of architecture that his houses present to the eye.Opening hours, guided tours ONLY are Monday through Friday at 11am, 1pm, and 3pm. Saturday and Sunday every 20 minutes from 11am to 3:30pm. Tickets cost $12. As mentioned numbers per tour are strictly limited so you may have to wait for the next available tour. All large bags and cameras have to be checked and for goodness sakes don’t touch anything or you will receive the unfettered wrath of the guides.Close
Written by zabelle on 31 Oct, 2006
Now, keep in mind that I come from a town of less than 10,000 people. Even though I am very comfortable in places like London and Paris, I am very nervous when attempting one of the large US cities. What amazed me about Chicago is…Read More
Now, keep in mind that I come from a town of less than 10,000 people. Even though I am very comfortable in places like London and Paris, I am very nervous when attempting one of the large US cities. What amazed me about Chicago is that even though it is obviously a large city, it didn’t intimidate me once I was there. What a great choice for our get-together.After having received an email from Dan asking me to be one of the speakers the first evening at Cubby Bear's, I had something else to worry about. I mulled over several possible topics to speak on, and finally, at the last minute, I decided to tell everyone how many mistakes we made on our first trip to Europe. Everyone seemed to be able to empathize with us as we stumbled from one blunder to the next. The fact that we are still traveling is a testament to our refusing to be defeated by our own stupidity.I had hoped to hook up with some of the other guides before we attempted the L ride to Cubby Bear's, but thanks to my handy laptop, we had a map with directions in hand as we headed out. Chicago has the best site for telling you exactly how to get from point A to point B and which form of public transportation to use. Even the country cousin could manage this. Cubby Bear's offered a great chance to reconnect with guides we have met before, Lorrie, Arlene and her son Mark, Brenda, Graham, Bill, Tony, and Dianne, and also some new friends, Carole, Natalie, Fleance, Ed, Paul, Sierra, and all the wonderful staff members who worked so hard to make our weekend so successful. And yes guys, I managed to get my super-sized umbrella home. We all sat around munching on snacks, sipping our drinks, and filling each other in on what we had been doing since the last get-together and where we had been traveling. It was great fun, and I think all of us were reluctant for the evening to end.Friday morning saw most of us gathered at the Navy Pier to begin our architectural tour. Kay joined us at this point after a daybreak flight from Washington. We all took our seats (okay, plastic chairs) on the deck for the 1-hour tour that highlighted such things as the Wrigley Building and the Sears Tower. It was, however, not limited to just that. We learned a lot of information about the history and building of Chicago, from its humble beginnings as a fort through the Great Fire and into present day.When the tour was over, we split into two groups. The more energetic contingent headed off to bike along the lake. The rest of us headed off to the Navy Pier to grab a bite of lunch before taking the water taxi to the Sears Building. Oh, the best-laid plans: when we arrived back to take the taxi, it was to find that it was no longer in service. After consulting the man at the booth, we decided to walk. I would guess by now that you know this was a terrible idea. It took us over 45 minutes to complete the walk, which made us 15 minutes late for our meeting with the Igo staff for our trip up the tower. Luckily for us, Tyler was still out front and told us that we were only a few minutes behind the other Igo staff members. Since we didn’t catch up with the other staff members until we got to the observation desk, we had to buy our own tickets to get to the top. (We were reimbursed on Saturday.) After purchasing your ticket, you go by elevator to the second floor to see a short film about the construction of the Sears Tower. You then get in line for the elevator ride to the top. Be prepared for your ears to pop and your stomach to lurch: it is a fast ride. It’s all worth it when you get to the top and see the stunning views you have from every angle. If you have the time, along the inside wall of the deck you can read the plaques about the history of Chicago.On Saturday morning, we met up with the other guides and the staff, including Tony, at the Field Museum. The Tut exhibit drew immense crowds, and that for me detracted from my enjoyment, but it certainly was a once-in-a-lifetime kind of moment.After we had a viewed the exhibit, a group of us met on the steps and decided to go to Chinatown. We were going to take the bus, so we walked around the building. After waiting a few minutes, we decided to take the L. It was around back where we had started. Actually, that was quite lucky, because we met up with the staff again and Tony, and we all headed off together.
At some point, the members ended up with Tony at the Phoenix Restaurant eating dim sum and talking about what we like and don’t like about some of the new upgrades. Thank you, Tony, for being so patient and for really listening to us, and also thank you for knowing what to order, because I didn’t have a clue. It was all wonderful.Saturday night, a group of members under the direction of Carole met in Greektown for a fantastic meal, and we were joined by Dawn ,who was one of our founding guides. The food was delicious, the company was delightful, and the service was beyond perfect. We all hated to see it end.And for Al and I, it did end here. We flew out at noon on Sunday, so we didn’t get to Millennium Park, but I still think it was the best get-together ever. Thank you to all the staff for the hard work you put into making everything so fantastic.
Written by GB from Devizes on 29 Oct, 2006
The Field Museum here in Chicago must rate as one of the planet’s greatest collections of exhibits of natural history. Several guides along with the IgUgo editorial team visited here on a warm Saturday morning, specifically to view the Tutankhamun exhibition but also to try…Read More
The Field Museum here in Chicago must rate as one of the planet’s greatest collections of exhibits of natural history. Several guides along with the IgUgo editorial team visited here on a warm Saturday morning, specifically to view the Tutankhamun exhibition but also to try and see some of the other fascinating displays. The building sits at 1400 S. Lake Shore Drive within a huge, landscaped complex that includes the Shedd Aquarium and the Adler Planetarium and affords wonderful walks along part of the Lake Michigan shoreline with superb views of the downtown area across the open parklands and marina.The entrance to this wonderful building is akin to walking into a Greek temple with its twin rows of massive Doric columns sitting at the top of the monumental stone staircase. Once inside, the first aspect that hits you is the light, airy feel of the interior along with of course the sheer physical volume of the space. The editors had pre-booked our tickets and within a few minutes we were ushered into the beginning of the King Tut exhibition where, alas, no photographs were allowed. The exhibition was busy meaning that we often had to wait for several minutes at various displays but this didn’t detract from the experience. The differing displays dealt with every aspect of the boy king’s short life and included some staggeringly beautiful gold artifacts such as a diadem, brooches, bracelets, and necklaces as well as perfume bottles, dining bowls and statuettes of various gods and deities that were worshipped 3000 years ago. Also on display is the ebony throne from where Tutankhamun ruled his subjects. Of course, the biggest mystery surrounding Tutankhamun is his particularly short life and several displays show objects such as ceremonial daggers that would have been placed inside his sarcophagus to assist him on his journey to "the Fields of the Blessed" after his body had been mummified. Of particular interest are the CT scans taken of Tutankhamun’s body which were intended to give some information regarding his death at the very young age of 19.I found the exhibition spell-binding and it was with some regret that I eventually realised I had seen all that there was to see and emerged from the subdued lighting of the exhibition back into the main ground floor area of the museum.With an itinerary to adhere to for the remainder of the day, Carole, Dianne, and I decided to see the displays of Native American Culture which included two enormous totem poles as well as wonderful exhibits detailing every aspect of their lives including clothing, tribal hierarchy, weaponry, head-dresses, food and hunting and how their future was placed in severe jeopardy by the virtual extinction of the North American buffalo as the frontiersmen pushed ever further west.With time now running out, we decided that there were just two more exhibits that we wanted to see and these were arguably the two that the museum is best known for. The first was "Sue", the virtually complete T-Rex skeleton, first unveiled to the public in May 2000. When she was discovered her skeleton was complete save for one foot, one "hand" and a few back-bones. It is believed that she met her fate in a mudslide, causing her skeleton to remain almost complete for some 65 million years.Next door to Sue are the two impressive Mastodons, huge elephant-like creatures that walked the Earth during the more recent Ice Ages.It was a shame that constraints of time precluded us from exploring further in this majestic building. It was such a bright, warm day outside that we felt we needed some fresh air and with that in mind, we took a half-hour stroll around the lakeside pathway towards the Aquarium, after having filled our empty stomachs with genuine Chicago Hot-Dogs from one of the vendors down by the parkland. "Don’t ask for ketchup", advised Carole, "or he may well decline to serve you!" This was no problem as I hate the horrible stuff anyway!The Field Museum has so much to see that an entire day wouldn’t be sufficient time. Add to this the great walks, the Aquarium and the Planetarium and you have a complex that in all reality would need a week to explore fully.InformationStandard admission is on two levels, for resident Chicagoans and for non-residents, as follows:Local Chicagoan Visitors Adult $10 Child (3-11) $6.25 Senior (65+) $8.75 Non-Local VisitorsAdult $11Child $7Senior $9.50A cab ride from downtown will cost around $8-$10. Red, Orange, and Green El lines all stop close by.The Museum has recently stopped offering free admission on Thursdays. It does now however offer free admissions on various dates throughout January, February, June, September, October, November and on December 24th. For a full list of dates and times see www.fieldmuseum.orgClose
Written by Wildcat Dianne on 19 Oct, 2006
Climbing up the steep steps from the kitchen to the upstairs of the Hemingway Birthplace, I was reminded of the stairs at my Grandma's and Aunt's places in Pawtucket, Rhode Island with the steepness and noise they made as you climb them. Luckily this time,…Read More
Climbing up the steep steps from the kitchen to the upstairs of the Hemingway Birthplace, I was reminded of the stairs at my Grandma's and Aunt's places in Pawtucket, Rhode Island with the steepness and noise they made as you climb them. Luckily this time, I didn't fall down the steps like I did one time after leaving a party at someone's house who had similar steps.
The downstairs of the Hemingway Birthplace was awesome, and the upstairs didn't disappoint me either. The furnishings and bedding were authentically restored to look like a Victorian home from the turn of the century, and the stories from our coordinator Conni were just as colorful.
We first saw the bathroom with its clawfoot bathtub and a functioning toilet. No outhouses for this family! The clawfoot tub reminded me of my Nana's tub in her house in Riverside, Rhode Island. There was no such thing as a two-bathroom house in the 19th century, and the Hemingways, all eight of them, had to share one small bathroom.
We then looked in the maids bedroom followed by Uncle Tyley's room. Tyley Hancock was Ernest's maternal great-uncle and the children's favorite uncle who always had a piece of candy or a gift with a story attached to it. Uncle Tylee also liked the ladies and was once engaged to the Hemingway's maid, but sadly the maid ran away before Uncle Tylee and she could say "I do," and he never married in his lifetime. However, this didn't stop him from his wining and dining with the ladies, and this behavior was prominent in Ernest's later life. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree!, as the saying goes.
The children shared a couple of bedrooms in the upstairs, and Abba's room is also located upstairs. Now it is a very interesting story about where and how Ernest's parents slept. After a woman stopped having children in the Victorian Era, the husband and wife went into separate bedrooms as a form of birth control. But Clarence and Grace Hemingway were very much in love and refused to stop "visiting" each other as the Victorian saying goes. But mouths of the servants wagged when Dr. Hemingway left his wife's bedroom almost every night after a "visit", so he had a secret passageway built between his and Grace's bedrooms in order to stop the gossip. These bedrooms turned out to be my favorite rooms in the Hemingway birthplace. Grace's room was located in the turret of the house and a couch was located by this window and turret along with a beautiful white metal bed. I was thinking of spray painting my white metal bed frame black at home, but after seeing this bed and decor, I am seriously thinking of changing styles in my room.
Dr. Hemingway's room was much smaller than his wife's room, and it was decorated with a twin bed and a bookcase with medical journals and some of his instruments that he used in his practice.
After visiting the upstairs rooms, the group went back the main staircase into the Study/Library. This is the room where Dr. Hemingway did his work and the children did their homework. Abba also worked in here, and if the children didn't do their homework, Abba made sure that the children were spanked for slacking off. The Study also had two certificates of Abba's and Dr. Hemingway's Civil War service. Abba's certificate was full of information about the battles he participated in along with the medals he was awarded for bravery. Dr. Hemingway's certificate didn't have much information because he was determined to do his duty and get out of the Army as soon as he could. In many of his works, Ernest Hemingway wrote about the soldiers who suffered from shell shock and lost limbs rather than glorify war and its horrors.
It was here that the tour ended, unfortunately. Everyone was very impressed with her fountain of information, and we all shook hands with her and thanked her profusely for her great tour. There is also a collection basket that you can donate money in order to continue the restoration of the Hemingway Birthplace, and I threw a dollar in there as my thanks. I wish I could have put more in, but every little bit helps.