What a fabulously photogenic city

Wrigley Building & Chicago Tribune Tower Stunning vista across the Chicago River

The area around the Michigan Avenue Bridge and Esplanade looking westwards along the Chicago River is an absolute mecca for an architecture buff like me. You’ll find a mixture of classic skyscrapers, many of them built in Art Deco Style, as well as more modern skyscrapers built over the last 30 years. This has to be one of the most impressive urban vistas in existence anywhere.

I continued to walk west on Wacker Drive and walked past a number of the north-south streets that connect the Loop with the areas north of downtown. I wanted to capture another fascinating building: Merchandise Mart, an impressive building at the north bank of the Chicago river between Wells and Orleans street, was built in 1931. At that time, when it was constructed by Marshall Field and Company to replace H.H. Ricardson’s Marshall Field Wholesale store, it was the building with the largest floor area in the world and today it is the second largest building in the United States after the Pentagon.

Merchandise Mart Reid Murdoch & Co. Building

A short hop on the el-train later I got off at Randolph Street to pick up my friend Linda who was scheduled to arrive at 10:25 am on the South Shore Railway Line. We have known each other since we are 10 years old (almost 30 years!) and grew up in Austria, and Linda herself moved to the United States a few years ago. We hadn’t seen each other for 2 years and this was the time to reconnect.

Linda arrived a few minutes late and after a heart-felt greeting we headed off to the Chicago Cultural Center to try to pick up a 3-day transit pass. Much to our surprise we were told that the closest location for multi-day transit passes was the Marriot Hotel at 549 North Michigan Avenue, about 20 minutes walking north of where we were. We were a bit surprised that it would be so inconvenient for visitors arriving in the Loop to purchase transit passes, but off we went with Linda’s suitcase in tow and we were finally able to pick up our coveted 3-day transit pass at the 2nd floor gift shop of the Marriot Hotel.

We decided to get rid of Linda’s luggage and headed north towards the youth hostel on the bus. By that time it was about noon and we were both voraciously hungry. So we plunked ourselves down at a cozy spot called the “Pasta Bowl” on Clark Street and I had a really delicious gorgonzola pasta that I absolutely devoured.

View from John Hancock Center Chicago Water Tower

From there we went back to the Arlington House, dropped off Linda’s luggage and rested for a bit since we were both pretty tired after this hefty lunch. At 4 pm we got going again and headed down to the Golden Mile, Chicago’s main shopping area along Michigan Avenue, north of the Chicago River. The place was absolutely hopping with people. We picked up a little gift for Linda’s daughter at H&M and then headed up into the John Hancock Centre, Chicago’s third highest building.

The view from the John Hancock Centre was amazing and the sun was just getting ready to set. Chicago’s skyline is impressive, crowned as it is by the Sears Tower. After our high altitude excursion we strolled along Michigan Avenue and for dinner we headed back into the Lincoln Park area where we had a very filling Mexican vegetarian burrito dinner on Lincoln Avenue.

Exhausted from all this exploring and eating, we went back to the Arlington House to crash in our bunk bed…

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