The Holy Name Cathedral--This is where some of the mobsters went to church.
Today was our day on the Magnificent Mile and the John Hancock Observatory. I was the first one up this morning, as I wanted to get things moving. But, Mother Nature had other plans. The first thing I did was look out the window. Rain. Lots of it. My first thought was “Great” All day walking the rain, and we have no umbrellas. We forgot to pack them. So after I was up and ready, I went over the local grocery and to Walgreens to find umbrellas. Walgreens had them for $14 a piece. They didn’t look any better than the $5 ones we got from Wal-Mart. So I went to grocery and found better ones for $11. But, the rain had nearly stopped. So, I only bought one for the girls to share. By the time I got back Margo was ready, and Jessi nearly so. Once we were finally able to get going, the rain had returned, with a vengeance. They say “If you want God to laugh, tell him you have a plan” The thunder I was hearing sounded like laugher to me.
So, now we went to Emergency Plan “C”. I had checked the forecast and the local weather guy, who sounded like he knew what he was talking about, said it should stop by late morning. With that in mind, we went to the hotel restaurant and had a late breakfast. By the time we finished, the rain had nearly stopped. I would sprinkle, more off than one, but it wasn’t a factor the rest of the day.
The Holy Name Cathedral--Margo has her finger in a buller hole. A mobster was killed on his way to church. It is said to be good luck to stick your finger in this hole before you get married. Sounds reasonable to me.
I had found a website for the Chicago Transit Authority, that would let you plug in an address or a landmark, and the site would tell you what subway or bus to take to get there. It had worked flawlessly until today. When we walked to the intersection where the bus stop was supposed to be, no luck.
There was a bus stop, but the signs did not indicate that the bus we needed, stopped there. We waited for about ten minutes then just decided to walk it. It was only about a mile, so it wasn’t going to kill us. I still don’t know what went wrong. I even double checked the directions on the computer before I left. Oh, well. We got to the John Hancock building, after first passing the Holy Name Cathedral. We saw this church on our Gangster Tour the previous day. When Dion O’Bannon was killed, a guy named Hymie Weiss took over. Hymie was killed in front of the Holy Name Cathedral. He was on his way to church with a cop, a politician, and a lawyer. The politician got away. It sounds like a bad joke. There is still a bullet hole in the church. So I got a couple of pictures.
I'm rescuing Jessi atop the Hancock Building. This was a mock up, inside, for taking pictures.
We got to the John Hancock Building and they warned us that visibility was not good.
It was good enough. So we messed around there for awhile, and took a few pictures. The view, even with the fog was good enough to see the major landmarks. We could even see our hotel. They had a couple of areas, on the indoor observation deck, where you take gag pictures. One you could be a window washer. But, I got Jessi to go over the other side of the rail and it looked like I was saving her. Another one was a beam, that you could lay on, and it looked like you were taking a nap 70 stories up. But, there was really only so much you could see, especially when the view was limited. So after about 30-40 minutes or so, we were off.
View of River North from the John Hancock Building. Look in the upper middle and you can see the archs of the Rock n Roll McDonalds
We spent the next few hours walking down Michigan Ave, stopping in shops that we couldn’t afford and looking.
The cheap purses at Guess were going for $90. The plain Coach ones, $268. We stopped at Tiffanys and saw $175 key rings and such non-sense. After all of that all we got were four t-shirts. Just before the Chicago River, we came to the Tribune Building. Our River Tour Guide, Chris, had mentioned that when it was built pieces of other famous buildings had been included in its construction. We saw that not only was that true, but they were labeled and low enough to see. They had also added a part of the World Trade Center. I though that was so cool. We took a few pictures and moved on. After crossing the Chicago River, we had left both the Magnificent Mile and the North Side. We continued south on Michigan to Millinueum Park.
Yes, Really I'm asleep on the umteenth floor of Big John. It's not a staged photo, really.
Once again Chris had provided information. He had pointed the park out. He told us it was supposed to be done in time for Y2K celebrations. It was completed in 2003. Oops. But, it is still an interesting park. It has an out door amphitheater call the Jay Pritzker Pavillion. Chris described it as looking like a giant UFO had crashed in the park” At first glance it does look like a tangle of chrome and stainless steel. At second glance you wonder what drug the architect was on. Further south, was a large sculpture call “Cloud Gate”. Though no one in Chicago calls it that. Everyone calls it “The Bean” Why? One look at it would leave no doubt. The sculpture is a forty foot long, 20 foot high, chrome kidney bean. It’s shape was designed to reflect the skyline along Michigan Ave, which it does very well.
The Water Tower Building. One of the few in the area to survive The Great Chicago Fire
It also keeps pro and amateur comedians alike, with new material. At the far south end of the park is Crown Fountains. This is another unique feature. On either end of a basketball court sized piece of flat concrete, are 30 foot tall, domino shaped sculptures. Sculpture is not the correct work, but just picture two plain concrete dominos, (no spots), 30 foot tall, where the goals belong on the basketball court. But the dominos are actually large animation screens. Like a TV screen, but waterproof. On the screen is face. This is a TV screen so the faces change. The faces just stare for a minute or so, and then they pucker their lips and blow. Right at the point on the sculpture, where the lips make their “O”, is a hole. When the face blows, a large steam of water shoots out, so as to look like the face is spitting water. It sounds kinda gross, but the kids love it. They like it because, they are allowed to play in the area between the sculptures.
A piece of the Alamo in the Tribune Building
They get soaked. It’s better than a swimming pool. We watched them for about 10-15 minutes. In between faces, water cascades from the top of each domino, so the kids can play in that too, and get wet. The final feature of this park, I only glimpsed as it was on the far east side. We were on the west. It’s called the BP Bridge and connects this park with another, on the opposite side of Columbus Ave. It looks like a giant aluminum snake or worm. This city does like its architecture.
The Tribune Building
But, we were getting hungry. All we had done was snacked since our late breakfast. We decided to take the El, through the downtown district, call “The Loop”. It is called that because the El makes an oval through the center of it, and houses a lot of the main government and cultural places.
So we headed into downtown, and jumped on the Brown line, at the Lake Station. But that station allowed us only to see a couple of stations. You see the entire section of The Loop, is the oldest part of the El. Hence, it is all elevated track and a neat way to check out the buildings. Even so, we got to see buildings from the elevated perspective in a couple of other neighborhoods, River North, and Near North. No we needed to pick out a restaurant. The River North area of Chicago has tons of restaurants. I wish we had had more time to try more of the local ones, but we ate mainly at our “normal’ tourist destinations. But, this time we ate at Ed Debevic’s. I don’t think they are a true local restaurant, as they have three or four other locations through out the US.
The Crown Fountain at Millennium Park
But, they are the Ed’s in Chicago. Their shtick is for the waitstaff to have an arrogant, rude, and indifferent attitude. They did it very well. The guy that seated us tossed our menus on the table, while ignoring us the whole time, and walked away. I know it sounds rude, but if you walk in knowing what it going on, it is funny. The food is decent, hot, and quick. They managed to insult everyone, at least once. They also have a “Restroom” sign that leads you to the end of a wall. It’s just begging to have you ask someone. Margo went looking, and said when she got back “That there was no way she was going to ask someone. I can only imagine what they would do” But, she found it on her own. They asked where we were from, and I answered, knowing that I was being set up. They insulted my Broncos and then asked how they were going to do this year. I told them that I was sorry they would be playing the Bears, as that way we would have at least one win this year.
They were actually speechless for a second. But, soon we were done, and on our way back to the hotel.
We had one final task for the day. Tomorrow, Friday, is our last day in Chicago, and then we head to Wisconsin. So, we needed a car. I had one reserved at Midway Airport, the same on we flew in on. That way we could drop it off and then fly out. Both Midway and O’Hare have a subway station. So after we had dropped off our shirts, we walked back to the subway and headed south again. This time we had to change trains at the same Lake station, and we saw a good section of the Loop.
We got the car, and then headed back to Chicago. It was rush hour. You can add Chicago to the list of places I am never going to drive in. It was actually the tail end of rush hour, and reasonable. But the construction had things bottled up. It took us well over an hour to get back. That was easily twice as long as it took to get there on the subway. Then it was our normal of routine of expenses, journal, some TV, and books. Plus Margo had to pack. Jessi went to bed. Her computer has managed to pick up a worm. I can’t seem to get the security software to get rid of it. I guess we will have to find us one of those Geeks from TV.
Underneath the Bean