Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Hyde Park

By Chuck

Today was warmer than yesterday, at 77°; but, it was less sunny and windy. It was a gorgeous day for touring. The Second City has the highest gas prices in the U.S., according to our tour bus guide; fortunately, we filled up before driving here; and we don't drive again until we leave on Friday.

Yesterday, we considered whether to purchase a 3 day touring pass from Double Decker and Trolley Tours or a 3 day Chicago Transit Authority Visitor Pass. We decided on the former, since we not only get around, but benefit from a lecture while we patronize the hop on-hop off opportunities. And, we get a free T-shirt and can take 5 distinct tours.

This went very well, except for: missing the first bus this morning because it stopped across the street from where the kiosk was located; having to wait 45 minutes on both ends of the trip to Hyde Park, since we barely missed the connection each time; and having to endure non-stop jokes on the final leg of the return trip home, which took over one and one-half hours, when we were thinking less than 30 minutes. Nevertheless, I am still glad we chose this option; Claire thinks it was a mistake. This is our impatient natures surfacing once again.

Pablo Picasso sculpture in downtown Chicago. Windy City has more outdoor sculpture than any other U.S. city.

President Obama's 6,100 sq. ft. house in Kenwood, a Chicago suburb right on the line with Hyde Park.

The Secret Service is on duty 24/7 outside of Obama's house. There are barricades along the street, preventing drive by viewing from the front of the house. We rode by his barber's shop in the bus, but were unable to stop. Both Kenwood and Hyde Park are absolutely gorgeous with one stunning home after another.  We were surprised by the very high hedges and closely planted trees surrounding Obama's house.  I wonder, has it always been like that?  It's almost a fortress.

This is Muhammed Ali's place in the Chicago suburb of Hyde Park.

 Louis Farrakhan, the leader of the Black Muslims, also has a house in Hyde Park.

The Museum of Science and Industry. The only building left over from the 1893 Columbian Exposition, which celebrated the 400th anniversary of Columbus' "discovery" of America.  I am currently reading The Devil in the White City, an excellent story about the Exposition.  We walked along the Midway Plaisance on our way to this museum.  It really helped us visualize the enormous scope of the project. 

Robie House, Frank Lloyd Wright's last Prairie Style home, completed in 1910. This is located in Hyde Park, more or less surrounded by the University of Chicago.  When asked about the low ceiling height of his Prairie homes, FLW, at 5'8" commented that anyone over 6 feet tall was just wasted space.

 Entering the campus of the University of Chicago.

Although there is no unifying architectural theme here, the campus is quite lovely with an appealing mix of old and new buildings.

 The top of this structure caught our collective eye.

 Just another ivy-covered hall on campus.

 Claire, resting on a bridge over a lovely pond.

This is the new addition to the library, extending underground. We tried to enter the library, but were unwilling to wait in line for the required day pass to be issued.

After roaming the campus, we were famished. We made our way back to an attractive deli we had noted on the way in.

 I had a Roast Beef on Rye--delicious.

 Claire had the Veggie Wrap. She was delighted with her healthy choice.

 The Prudential Building in downtown Chicago. Obama election headquarters is on the 35th floor.

This is the Aqua Building by Jeanne Gang; it is the tallest building in the world designed by a female architect, and one of the loveliest in Chicago, regardless of gender. The variations in outside surface represent the waves of Lake Michigan. In order to get the offsets of the waves right, they had to use a GPS.

Our bus guide had to periodically duck when passing under overpasses, the El, and numerous tree branches. Despite riding backwards, he seemed to always know when to kneel or sit to avoid bodily injury.

Claire realized today that the picture of the former Marshall Fields warehouse, featured in yesterday's blog, was not the store where she futilely purchased a pair of pants that were never delivered to her at the tender age of 16. She recognized the clock on the corner, the store, and her error, as we rode through the city, today.

Ornamental column on one of the many bridges crossing the Chicago River with 150' fountain spray from the Buckingham Memorial Fountain in the background. 

Another lovely Chicago scene as we are finishing up the bus tour.

One of the things that continues to impress us about Chicago is the sense of openness we experience almost everywhere. We are told that Chicago has more park space than any city in the U.S. Not only is the downtown area blessed with numerous open areas, but each residential district has its own park.

Space is the breath of art. ~ Frank Lloyd Wright

1 comment:

  1. Hi Chuck,

    You cracked me up when you said, "...It's almost a fortress..." referring to the gargantuan plant life surrounding Obama's house.

    And, to answer your question, No, it hasn't always been that way. Obama's home used to be the second home from the corner. The house that occupied the first lot was torn down prior to the election. As a matter of fact, I thought that a developer was going to build a brand new home in its place. However no work seemed to take place, and the lot just sat. After the election, passerbys could walk to the corner and just look at his house. And if you had looked hard enough, you could see into the first floor. I'm sure that was a security risk, so they brought in these monstrous trees and vegetation, which occupy the land that would be the first house on the block.

    As a matter of fact, when I first saw it, I thought, DANG!! Where did that forest come from??? HA!

    I'm happy you enjoyed Chicago. I too love it here. I used to be a resident of Hyde Park, but am now a Suburban girl.

    I hope while you were able to take-in some of the free festivals - Chicagoans play hard in the summer since we can't do much during the winter. :-)

    Come back soon!!