Family, Heritage Travel, Historic Preservation, Random DJB Thoughts
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From the silly to the sublime

Inside the Bean

Today we played tourist in Chicago – a great city with way too much to see in one lifetime, let alone one day.

Bean Selfie Chicago

Work takes me to Chicago three or four times a year, so with the exception of a 90-minute architectural tour taken by boat on the Chicago River – something everyone should do once (or more) in their lives – I turned Sunday over to Claire’s interests.

We left Aunt Susan and Cousin Zoe’s home in Evanston and took the CTA ‘L’ train into the city.  When we stepped out from the below-ground station at Lake, Claire started looking around and said, “This feels like New York.” What she meant as a first time  visitor was that the crush of people, the canyon walls of buildings, and the energy felt like a big city. The pep in her step was quickly evident, as we headed out to Millennium Park.

Why Millennium Park?  Because what self-respecting tourist to Chicago these days doesn’t want to take a selfie at Anish Kapoor’s Cloud Gate (or – as everyone knows it, The Bean.)  Mission accomplished!

The Bean Chicago

Claire also wanted to go on the famous Ferris Wheel at the Navy Pier – the same Navy Pier where her grandfather – my father – was stationed during WWII.  So away we went!  Hope you enjoy Claire’s panoramic view taken as we were near the top.

Navy Pier Ferris Wheel

After a quick Chicago dog for me and a vegetarian “Green Bay” dog for Claire (she wanted the extra cheese), we headed over to meet up with Susan and take the wonderful Chicago Architectural Foundation river tour.  This is something I never tire of, and even though we had to dodge (or not) raindrops off and on for the 90 minutes, it was still a treat. I will spare you the 92 pictures I took, and will limit myself to three, beginning with Bertrand Goldberg’s iconic Marina City – in memory of the recently demolished Prentice Women’s Hospital, also by Goldberg.

Marina City by Bertrand Goldberg

Next, I loved seeing Jeanne Gang‘s wonderful Aqua Tower from the river, with the unique terraces and glass creating the illusion of water flowing.  As one of the best and brightest of the more recent additions to Chicago’s skyline, this was a treat to see from a different angle.

Aqua Tower from the River

Every time I take this tour, I see new buildings that have been built in recent years.  But I also enjoy the views of old friends like the Tribune Tower.

Chicago Architectural Tour

After a stop in the Chicago Bridgehouse Museum (recommended), we boarded the ‘L’ back for Evanston and a quick change into dry clothes, before heading out to carbo load at Walker Brothers – the original Pancake House. My oh my…how wonderful!

Claire with Aunt Susan and Zoe
Baha'i House of Worship

Susan, Zoe, Claire and I then headed up to the beautiful Bahá’í House of Worship in Wilmette for the last stop of the day, as the daylight was fading.  Previously, I had only driven by this marvelous structure – the oldest surviving Bahá’í House of Worship in the world, and the only one in North America.  So it was a treat to step into the visitors center and learn about how this structure was built, and then to tour both outside and inside (where photos are not allowed).  Magnificent.  This is a place that makes you feel like a house of worship should make you feel.

Baha'i House of Worship Panorama

It has been a  wonderful 24 hours with family we see much too infrequently.  Thank you, Susan and Zoe, for your wonderful hospitality.  While we started the day on a silly note, you certainly took  us to a sublime ending.

More to come…


Image: Inside Cloud Gate by Claire Holsey Brown


I am David J. Brown (hence the DJB) and I originally created this personal blog more than ten years ago as a way to capture photos and memories from a family vacation. After the trip was over I simply continued writing. Over the years the blog has changed to have a more definite focus aligned with my interest in places that matter, reading well, roots music, and more. My professional background is as a national nonprofit leader with a four-decade record of growing and strengthening organizations at local, state, and national levels. This work has been driven by my passion for connecting people in thriving, sustainable, and vibrant communities.

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