Okay, back to the train adventure. When I knew we would be stopping in Chicago with a span of a few hours between changing trains, I wrote to my aunt Susie for ideas. She lives in Chicago and came up with a great walking tour for us. It was too good not to share, just in case you're in Chicago with kids and need a failsafe plan:
"The Sears Tower is just across the river from Union Station...so if you like vistas that's the place to go. To the top, of course. It's now called the Willis Tower, since it changed ownership last year but it will take a while for the name change to sink in.
You could walk along Adams (east, toward the lake from the train station) and taste some Berghoff's root beer, Chicago's old traditional brew. Great COLD.
Then find a Chicago red hot nearby someplace, even from a street vendor. Red hot=Chicago style hot dog. They put their own highly valued combo of condiments on it--don't ask for ketchup or they'll doubt your character. : ) If you'd like more lunch options, walk north along Canal Street or Clinton Street and go to Madison (two blocks north of Adams, which is the street on the north side of the station). On Madison between Canal and Clinton is the entrance to the Ogilvie Transportation Center where you'll find lots of good options in the French Market area. My favorite name on the list is Sweet Miss Giving's.
Oh, and on the way east along Adams to Berghoff's (or coming back west later from Millennium Park), you'll see Alexander Calder's stabile (unusual for him), Flamingo. It stands in a plaza at Adams and Dearborn. You can't miss it. Red. Big. After you eat, walk east along Washington (one block north of Madison) and cross the river, keep going till you get to Clark Street. Stay on the south/right side of the street and very shortly after Clark you'll see a Miro sculpture in an alcove between large buildings. Appreciate Miro!
As you turn back toward the street (facing north), look to your left and see the Federal Court Building (on Clark, facing the plaza north of you (Daley Center Plaza). That very building (big, old, gray) is where they filmed one of the scenes of Fugitive, where Harrison Ford is running through the city building, down the stairs, etc. At least that's what they say, and the movie WAS filmed in Chicago. Cross over to the Daley Plaza and see Chicago's Picasso.
Picasso made it specifically for this site and when asked about payment, he said he wanted a White Sox jacket, and that's what he got. Full charge for the sculpture--one jacket. When you're near the Picasso, take a look back toward the Miro and then up, up. Tall spire at the top of the First United Methodist Temple building--does it bring to mind our Mormon Temple in Manhattan? Maybe, maybe not. I haven't seen the one in Manhattan.
Walk east along Madison further, and see the wonderful old Marshall Field's store [now Macy's : ( ] on the left, separated by one full block from the Daley Plaza. Worth going inside to look up through all of the levels of shopping in the grand old style. Keep going east and you'll run into Millennium Park where you can see: Cloudgate (shiny huge round/oblong sculpture great for pictures--you can walk under it and around it to see all its reflections of skyscrapers and sky);
the Pritzker Pavilion (designed by Frank Gehry--it's the music shell/stage for many free performances on summer nights);
the Serpentine bridge (just beyond the grass of the south end of the Pavilion; also designed by Gehry and worth walking across and then right back); and the fountain on the corner of Michigan Ave. and Monroe Street, a wading fountain between two enormous blocks with faces projected on them.
Fun to stomp around in, great people watching. Be sure to wait long enough to see the two faces spit water out toward each other; it's fun. And if it's hot, lots of people will be trying to get drenched in the mouth spray.
Just south of that, across Monroe, there's a sculpture garden that's part of the Art Institute. SE corner of Michigan and Monroe. Then the Art Inst. itself, and if you have time . . . you'd surely enjoy that. You should at least go to the grand entrance on Michigan and Adams and take a photo of Sam with the lions out front. A popular Chicago image. From there, walk back one block (N) so you're heading west along Monroe. After you walk under the L on Wabash, keep a lookout for the entrance to Palmer House hotel on your left (south side of the street). Go inside to see the grand entrance/lobby--enormous.
Potter Palmer was one of the early millionaires in Chicago. He supposedly built this hotel as a gift to his wife. I was really uncomfortable that time Dave built a hotel for me. Greg's probably done it for you, too. It's just too much, don't you think? And I can't find anywhere to put mine. Then you can make your way back to Adams and back to the station. Voila!"
(Thanks, Susie. That was wonderful. As are you. There should be Aunt Susie guides to every destination.)
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Listen: Sufjan Stevens ~ Chicago