- By Robert Blessing
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Who are you, where do you live and what unique experiences do you offer?
My name is Lynn and I grew up in the Chicago area. While I moved away to go to university and for a few jobs, Chicagoland was always calling me home. I moved back to the area in 1988, and in 1999 took the opportunity to move right downtown and live in one of the iconic buildings in our skyline – Marina City. I am told these are the most photographed private residences in the world. Most people don’t know them by the name “Marina City”, but if I tell them I live in “the corn cob buildings on the river” that usually does the trick.
What does Chicago offer that you can’t find in other places?
Chicago is well known for its spectacular architecture and iconic skyline. First, we rebuilt the city after the Chicago fire in 1871. Then we invented and built the first skyscraper in 1889. Since 1973 we have been the home of the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere.
We have wonderful examples of classical Beaux Arts, Art Deco, International and Post-Modern styles as well as unique architecture of the 21st Century. But most visitors miss the hidden treasure of these buildings – the lobbies!
If you take the time to go in and out of buildings downtown, you’ll be surprised at what you find. For starters, look at the ceilings, walls, floors, doors, light fixtures, elevators, stairs and mailboxes. In addition, many buildings have modern art displayed in the form of mosaics, sculptures, tapestries or blown glass.
One of my favorite streets to explore is LaSalle St. – Chicago’s financial district. Start at LaSalle and Washington at Helmut Jahn’s, Post-Modern style James R. Thompson Center / The State of Illinois Center opened in 1985.
Then work your way south to the 1930 Art Deco, Chicago Board of Trade by Holabird and Root at Jackson Blvd.
In between there are other great lobbies on both sides of the street.
Another great option is the landmarked Michigan Ave “street wall”. Start at Randolph St. and stop in the Chicago Cultural Center, opened as the first Chicago Public Library in 1897.
Then head south to Congress and Michigan Ave at Alder and Sullivan’s masterpiece – built as a grand hotel, office building and theater before the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, now part of Roosevelt University.
All along the way, you’ll see other great lobbies.
One word of advice: if there is a security guard in the lob
by, introduce yourself as a visitor to the city and explain you are there to admire the lobby. Also, ask if picture taking is allowed. Some buildings, such as banks, prohibit interior photography. You will find most of the guards are very friendly and welcome guests.
So, enjoy all the architecture Chicago has to offer, but don’t forget to explore INSIDE the buildings too! If you would like a companion and to learn more, book a tour; I’ll meet you in Chicago!
Lynn Neils is a local tour guide from Chicago, Illinois. She provides Custom Tailored Tours and also some tours with a suggested itinerary. Learn more about Chicago Tour Guide Lynn on LocalGuiding.com
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