With Tina’s theme — Interesting Architecture — for Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #173, our photos from a recent trip to Chicago couldn’t be more fitting. After all, this city of big shoulders, immortalized in Carl Sandburg’s poem “Chicago” sets the standard for skyscrapers, old and new buildings, artsy collections, and riverboat tours just begging you to look up in awe!
Hog butcher for the world,
Tool maker, stacker of wheat,
Player with railroads and the nation’s freight handler;
Stormy, husky, brawling,
City of big shoulders.Carl Sandburg, “Chicago,” 1916
We found ourselves staring at interesting architecture the minute we drew open the drapes of our hotel room and faced the hugeness that was the John Hancock building, now dubbed 875 North Michigan Avenue. With its notable X-bracing, it defies imagination with its height of 1,128 feet towering above the city.
But after taking a Wendella architecture tour by boat, 875 North Michigan Avenue became just one of many. In looking up, we saw the best — unique renderings of some of the most interesting buildings in America. Yet no two structures were alike.
I give you Chicago. It is not London and Harvard. It is not Paris and buttermilk. It is American in every chitling and sparerib. It is alive from snout to tail.H. L. Mencken
We began looking at the juxtaposition of buildings, layers of various decades of architecture one against another — like this shot of the Water Tower casting its shadow against a modern backdrop.
Small round towers housing gears and levers to control drawbridges contrasted nicely with taller, straighter, more slender renditions of useful yet elegant buildings in the background.
And we found a new love for modernity as our boat tour passed by what we originally thought were plain, modern pieces only to be amazed at reflections the buildings supported, It was an ever-changing show of light and shadows for all of us on the boat.
Further away from the city, we noted that any color became a foil for the giants — as this red fire department boat will attest.
And speaking of backdrops, look how these plain stalwarts provide the perfect staging for Alexander Calder’s Flamingo, installed in 1974 but looking every bit as modern as something created in our current year, 2021.
If we had to choose a favorite architectural gem, it might be this stellar trio of blue-hued buildings: the newly named St. Regis Chicago (formerly Wanda Vista Tower) that, upon completion, will house 360 penthouse residences and tower 1,198 feet into the air, allowing it to boast (rightfully so, of course) of its status as the third-tallest skyscraper in Chicago.
But it’s not just the height that bowled us over: We were in awe of the curves, the use of multiple blues on the windows, and the opening near the top that allows the wind to do its thing without toppling the building with its force.
I’d rather be a lamppost in Chicago than a millionaire in any other city.William A. Hulbert
It’s a prince of a city. With notable examples of architecture and art at every turn.
Ah, yes. The city of Chicago.
Rusha & Bert