A Nice Discovery in Chicago: Its Architecture

These well-traveled eyes have seen a lot of great cities and still have others left to discover.  But they can say that they have seen truly one of the most interesting and enjoyable cities in the U.S. – as long as it is not winter, of course!  (OK, it still can be fun in winter as my visits many moons ago can attest though my memory cannot fully recollect…)

Chicago is vibrant, day or night.  It is not the 200+ yr old charm that Philly has (Chicago burnt deep and well in the famous fire).  It is not the capital of everything that NY is.  It is not the power center that DC is.  But it is a city that has everything that an urban area should have:  unique neighborhoods, a vibrant center, a body of water (or two) running through it, great food, great hotels, diversity of entertainment options (blues clubs, skyscraper-top bars, mafia lore, shopping, people watching, and on and on), and a strong business community.  Of course, it also has that required element of large cities:  corrupt (or dubious) power brokers – but I digress.

But one thing it that tood out to me as if I had never been here before was the architecture.  Not sure if it was the scale (as in the Hancock and ex-Sears Towers or as in the Merchandise Mart), or the contrasts between “old” and new, or just the fact that I got see it on foot, on boat, and on a bus.

View from the Wrigley Building to the "south side" of the Chicago river

View from the Wrigley Building to the “south side” of the river

If you have any interest in learning about the city’s architecture (and you most definitely do not need to be an architect for that!), the boat tour is a great option.  The boat tour we took was offered was by Wendella Boats (http://www.wendellaboats.com/ (right by the Wrigley Building on Michigan Ave.).  They provide an excellent narration of the architecture of the city by cruising the river – and they help you learn why the river no longer flows into Lake Michigan… I won’t spoil it for you.  They also offer you a free drink (and you can pay for more) – the Honker’s Ale was very nice.  And I digress again.

Here are examples of the architecture of Chicago (more pictures on my Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/ILiveToTravel):

Buildings in Chicago that show it has great architecture

The building on the left was inspired by a champagne bottle

Chicago's high buildings reflected on the Cloud Gate, or The Bean

The real and reflected skyline (at The Bean in Millenium Park)

Other stories from our tweetup:




  1. love that bean pic! wow! you really captured some great shots from this trip!

    • Thanks, Lola! I could have stayed by that bean taking pix of people taking pix of themselves – but The Palmer House beckoned 🙂

  2. I love your blog and photos. One of my favorite urban landmarks is historic Wrigley Field in Chicago. I also like going to Grant Park. How about you?

    • Haven’t been able to spend tons of time in Chicago but this trip certainly makes me want to go back! Lots of neat neighborhoods and landmarks to explore. Not to mention eateries and bars!

  3. Hmm Raul, which people could you possibly be referring to? 😉

    I got really excited to see this post, because I love Chicago’s architecture and the variety of styles present. How quickly and how well the city was rebuilt after the Great Fire goes to show the strength and vision of many Chicagoans.

    And you’re right – we’re neither NYC nor DC – and that’s a good thing! We have actually embraced the notion of “the second city” – nothing wrong with that! 🙂

    • That is so true abt many things in life! The race to first can be rather silly when a nnr two isn’t a shabby spot. But, I don’t know that I would say Chicago is nbr two to any but tied in first with a few select cities! (And the Chicago Tourist Board owes you for that!)

  4. I like that! 🙂

  5. Come back anytime, now you know people here to show you around. 😉

  6. elatlboy says:

    Great post and photo set. Could take photos of the city and watch people interact with “The Bean” all day long. I agree with your comment above, the Palmer House did come a calling. Great architecture and so much history there I gotta read more in depth about. Learned a lot from Chicago that didn’t know on the boat tour, with some great beer!

  7. You described Chicago’s charm perfectly. My thoughts exactly.


  1. […] can all talk about Chicago food, help write the next guidebook on what to see, its architecture, or just muse about the city’s history (be it the city’s founding, Ferris […]

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