Whoever said not to mix business and personal fun has surely never seen the city of Chicago. This past weekend our family took a mini vacation into Chicago and the outlying suburbs and got to learn more about the architecture of the city along the way
On our first full day in the city, we asked the hotel concierge about possible boat tours on the beautiful Chicago River. He suggested one tour that was hosted by the Chicago Architecture Foundation and focused on the history of the buildings in the heart of the city, near the river.
Once we were on the boat, our guide pointed to a couple of apartment buildings along the way that were made of restored brick and had clearly been in the city for a significant amount of time. She told us that the hanging style of metal porch secured by two hefty wires on these apartments was an indication that the building had once been a warehouse, but has since been converted to living spaces. This feature can be found in multiple cities around the country and was spotted multiple times on that tour.
As we passed so many incredible buildings in various styles – from art deco, to post-modern, to Greco-Roman – I couldn’t help but think how much effort and planning must go into creating buildings with creativity but also structural integrity (and doing both well).
The rich history of the city, it turns out, can almost all be communicated in the styles of the buildings there. We sailed by the site where the Great Chicago Fire began, as we learned that it was not actually caused by Mrs. O’Leery’s cow kicking over a lantern (turns out that story was fabricated by journalists looking for a newsworthy story!).
This fire was a devastating tragedy, but, since most of the buildings in the city were made out of wood at the time, people were inspired to find new building materials to prevent such an event from occurring again. Enter steel skyscrapers. Chicago soon became the home of the skyscraper and housed the highest standing building in the country (Willis Tower, commonly known as the Sears Tower) until the One World Trade Center was built in 2013.
A great part about this tour was that it counted toward Lesle’s “Continuing Education” as a part of her teaching job at the Art Institute of Indianapolis. By taking this hour and a half long cruise along the river, she gained lots of new information about the architecture of this historic city, which she can impart to the next generations of photographers.
No business and pleasure you say? Here at Studio13, business is pleasure.