The elevated Loop, part of the iconic Chicago ”L” circuit, looping around a rectangle in downtown Chicago. It runs right in front of many windows of shops, gyms, offices – thankfully, no private apartments. Sometimes so close, it might as well run through them.
From the moment we arrived here, we felt that Chicago is what Manhattan would have been, had it not been an island: orderly, clean, with enough space for development; where pedestrians need not fight for the last millimetre of pavement space; and with its ”L” trains still running. Still in the Loop, almost time to leave but not before catching glimpses into two more lobbies: this is the City of Chicago City Hall and, further down, the One North LaSalle Building, with its lavish art deco cathedral for a lobby.
Lobby hopping in the Loop, Chicago
November 5th, 2017
Aka The Hard Rock Hotel – although that was about to change. We didn’t know it at the time, but a month later, the hotel would close for renovation; it now operates under a new brand, as the St. Jane Chicago. But the exterior, covered in polished black granite, topped by a tower dressed in dark green terracotta with gold leaf ornaments, must surely remain as impressive as it has always been, since the day of its completion in 1929.
Then, there is the dazzling lobby, all bronze and dark Belgian marble and Art Deco features – minus, I guess, the guitars which will have probably found a new wall to grace.
The building was designed by the Burnham Brothers, a commission by the Carbide and Carbon Company to house their regional headquarters.
November 3rd, 2017
There are so many buildings of architectural interest in the Financial District of Chicago, you’d probably need to join a guided tour to visit them all and learn about their history. But if you are a casual visitor – and a first-time one at that, just walk around, spot an interesting-looking building and then step inside its lobby. You’ll soon find out that these lobbies are not simply entrances to commercial or office spaces; they are, in reality, stunningly beautiful Art Deco treasure troves; and they provide excellent shelter from the rain, too.
Walk, for instance, inside the Field Building, built in 1934 by Graham, Anderson, Probst & White; another wonderful example of the Art Deco style:
Or enter the Marquette Building’s hexagonal lobby and be captivated by the exquisite mosaic panels depicting the journey of Father Marquette, a French missionary and explorer, first settler in the area we know today as Chicago, in whose honour the building has been named.
The mosaics are designed by Louis Tiffany, son of Charles Tiffany, the famous jeweler; and Jacob Adolph Holzer, a Swiss artist who worked for Tiffany as their chief designer and art director.
November 2nd, 2017
Built in 1930 by John A. Holabird and John Wellborn Root Jr. (son of John Root Sr., one of the architects of the Rookery), to become home to the world’s oldest futures and options exchange, the Chicago Board of Trade, which had already been established in 1848 – year that the first railroads arrived in Chicago.
From John Storrs’ faceless statue of Ceres, Roman goddess of Agriculture, presiding over Chicago’s financial district from its prominent position at the rooftop, down to its lobby with the sleek brass elements contrasting blindingly against the darker surfaces, and even further down to its subterranean vault, the Board of Trade Building is one of the finest – and best preserved – examples of the Art Deco style, popular in Chicago in the early 20th century.
November 2nd, 2017
From Ottawa and the Thousand Islands, back to Manhattan, a day-break to regroup and whoosh… off again – this time, to Chicago!
It was a change of gear (a heavier coat would be needed), a switch to different means of transport (dropping off the car and boarding on a plane), a change of pace and, more importantly, a total change of scenery.
We stayed five-and-a-half days in Chicago and it was raining the entire time. Well, almost, because there were some dry(-ish) spells, enough to let us take a boat tour or walk about – we even saw some sunshine, at some point.
But we took our first walk in the rain. It was already dark and rather chilly.
Chicago looks great in the rain – more Gothamic than Gotham.
November 1st, 2017
Imagine living in a world where these treasures were household items – not museum objects.
1/ Maurice Sterne
The Awakening, ca. 1926
2/ Kem Weber
Vanity with Mirror and Stool, 1934
3/ John Vassos
RCA Victor Special Model K Portable Electric Phonograph, c.a 1935
4/ Emilie Robert
Pair of Gates, ca. 1900 (detail), France
July 22nd, 2017
Following his murderous quest for vengeance against the doctors he believes responsible for the death of his beloved wife, Victoria, the fiendish Dr. Phibes enters the crypt where he has enshrined her, ”incredibly maintained neither alive nor completely dead”. And there he places himself in suspended life, like her, until it will be time to rise again. And there he lays in darkness, next to her body, in a splendid satin sarcophagus, until the moon, aligning with the eternal planets, shines upon the sarcophagus – once every 2.000 years – signalling the opening of the crypt. And then, the fiendish Dr. Phibes rises again from his deep sleep and, together with his trusted aid, Vulnavia, prepares to take Victoria to Egypt where, years ago, in a mountain overlooking the Valley of the Pharaohs, he prepared a wondrous shrine, ”unknown by any living man”. There, under a secret temple, the River of Life flows, promising resurrection for Victoria and eternal life for them both.
Three years have passed, and now it is time for their greatest adventure. But, to his utter horror, Dr. Phibes finds his house has been destroyed and his papyrus scrolls stolen, the very scrolls that would lead him back to the secret temple in Egypt.
Stills from imdb and filmgrab archives
Dr. Phibes Rises Again (1972)
October 27th, 2018
So what if the line went round and round, forming a complete circle at the base of the tower. There was so much to see during the hour we waited to reach the lift that, for once, I didn’t feel the pain. For the entire ground floor is adorned with floor to ceiling murals painted in 1934 by a group of artists employed by the Public Works of Art Project, a precursor to the Works Progress Administration (WPA).
They depict life in California during the Depression, with emphasis on the theme of industry and commerce and distinctive touches of leftist political ideas, clearly evident; like on Bernard Zakheim’s “Library” which depicts fellow artist John Langley Howard reaching for a copy of Karl Marx’s ”Das Kapital” (spelled here ”Das Capital”). Touches one is familiar with in Europe, but rather unusual in the States. Perhaps it is true, after all, San Francisco may well be a very European city.
The Tower & details the Murals Industries of California
Industries of California
Bernard B. Zakheim
Mallette Harold Dean
Banking and Law
The (360°) views
You can buy tickets on-line in advance and skip the lines. But where is the fun in that?
July 5th, 2017