If you really want to see another side of Chicago, a must is a trip on the Chicago First Lady boat cruise. There are other boats and architectural boat tours that are just as informative and entertaining. The one that I experienced was the one put on by the Chicago Architecture Foundation. It was a mile long strip of the Chicago River and lasted 90 minutes. A volunteer docent gave you a guided tour of the architecture of the famous buildings along the river.
We arrived at the pier on Michigan Avenue and Wacker Drive to board the Chicago First Lady. The cruise is on the Chicago River with a guide that will tell you all about the architecture of the famous buildings and the architects that designed them. It is fascinating to hear about why each building was designed to fit in with the land and river. It is a blending of the old and new.
One of the buildings that fascinated me was built to curve with the river. It has toned windows that matches the blue of the river. Others have glass to mimic the green in the river. It is interesting to see how different architects have different ideas of what makes a beautiful, yet functional building. The buildings have to be built to give with the windy city of Chicago.
Some of the buildings were strictly functional as far as I am concerned. They are stark, cold and impersonal. Others are truly works of art. There are gothic buildings amid the modern. From a personal standpoint, I felt my knees go weak looking up at the top of the buildings. I cannot image living or working on one of the top floors of any of these buildings.
Worse yet, working on a building of such height. There were window cleaners on scaffoldings, swaying in the wind. One of the ladies that we went on the tour with was born and raised in Chicago. She pointed out a floor that her son works on about 15 stories up.
There are condos and apartments that are dwellings for residents of Chicago. You can see grills set up on balconies way up on the upper stories of these buildings. I am amazed that people actually live in apartments that high up letting alone barbecuing that high above the river. It is a completely different lifestyle from which I am accustomed.
The beauty of the city and the architecture is awesome. Beautiful flower boxes adorned many of the windows on the buildings and apartments.I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of it. The mixture of the green parks and the skyscrapers is an artist’s paradise. The personal stories of the architects, intermingled with the factual information is very intriguing.
One architect got into a conflict with one of his students. They never spoke again, but the professor of the student had his office window facing the building designed by his favorite student so he could see it everyday from his window.
If you ever get the chance to go to Chicago I highly recommend taking an architectural boat tour of this magnificent City.
If you are a senior citizen you will get reduced rates for these tours. You can also get a senior citizen’s discount on your tickets for the South Shore and on Museum tickets.
Groups of 20 or more may be booked directly by calling the Chicago Architecture Foundation at 312-922-3432 x226 (certain discounts may apply.) Docents/Guides for private parties are also available. Group reservations are taken throughout the year.