City Hike:
Open House Chicago

Something a little bit different on Sunday, October 15th. Once a year, the Chicago Architecture Foundation sponsors what it calls Open House Chicago. Open House Chicago is a free event that allows folks like you and me to take a peek into more than 200 buildings all across Chicago.

Now, here’s the thing. I’ve lived in Chicago for more than 30 years, and I have never participated in Open House Chicago. I will cut myself some slack since, after doing a little research, I found out that Open House Chicago has only been in existence since 2011. However, better late than never, right?

Since Chicago covers an area of 234 square miles (I Googled it!), we made the decision to take part in the downtown open house and we began our open house adventure at the corner of Michigan Avenue and Wacker Drive. Note: This corner was where Fort Dearborn was located, and it is now home to the famous Michigan Avenue double-decker bridge which affords lovely views of the Chicago River looking east and west. Here – see for yourself.

Chicago River - East on Michigan Avenue Bridge

Also, Michigan Avenue and Wacker Drive is the location for one of the places where I work; and aren’t I lucky to get to work in a somewhat famous Mies van der Rohe building, “One Illinois Center“. As it so happens, the Chicago Architecture Foundation is taking over the Wacker Drive-facing part of our building as their new Chicago Architecture Center. Also, just cuz, since the bus I tend to take to work most days stops near the corner of Michigan Avenue and Wacker Drive, I’ve been snapping pictures of the Chicago River every morning as it goes through its winter seasonal stages of not frozen, to slightly frozen, to very frozen, and everything in between. And, to backtrack for a sec, yes, I have multiple jobs (don’t we all?!). What, you thought I made a living writing this blog?! From your lips…. Tell all of your friends to subscribe to the blog (and also subscribe to the Trail Tracing YouTube channel!), help me find some sponsors, and I’ll be more than glad to do this full time!

Back to the river – here’s a sampling of the frozen/kind of frozen/not frozen Chicago River.

Chicago River - Frozen and Unfrozen

We began our Open House Chicago adventure heading west on Wacker Drive. Wacker Drive could probably be termed a “multidirectional” street as it runs east, west, south, and north – Huh? It runs along the Chicago River; thus, at the bend (heading south and east), Wacker Drive does the same. Wacker Drive north and south begins at Madison Street, and east and west begins at State Street (the intersection of Madison and State is 0 in Chicago).

Here’s a list (with links where I could find them) to some of the buildings/office spaces that we viewed (in no particular order and with pictures where I have them):

Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture (111 W. Monroe Street; building designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, 1958)

Chicago Temple (First United Methodist Church) (77 W. Washington Street; building designed by Holabird & Roche, 1924)

City Hall (121 N. LaSalle Street, Holabird & Root, 1911)

The Kemper Building (One E. Wacker Drive; building designed by Shaw, Metz & Associates, 1962)

Loop Synagogue (16 S. Clark Street; building designed by Loebl, Schlossman & Bennett, 1957)

Loop Synagogue Stained Glass

Federal Reserve Building (230 S. LaSalle Street; building designed by Graham, Anderson, Probst and White – they also designed the iconic Wrigley Building)

Chicago Board of Trade Building (141 W. Jackson Blvd.; building designed by Holabird & Root, 1930). If you like art deco, the interior of this building is a great example!

Federal Reserve Building Floor
Federal Reserve Elevator Lobby

231 S. LaSalle Street (Wintrust Bank Building; formerly, the Continental Illinois Bank Building – where I spent almost two years working in the Continental Bank private placement group (good times!); building designed by Graham, Anderson, Probst & White, 1924)

231 S. LaSalle Street Mail Hall
231 S. LaSalle Street Mail Hall Lion Column

And, saved for last on purpose…the Seventeenth Church of Christ, Scientist (55 E. Wacker Drive; building designed by Harry Weese & Associates, 1968).

I have always been fascinated by this building and was glad that I finally had the opportunity to peek inside. Check out the pipe organ pipes (the church has a 3,316-pipe Aeolian-Skinner organ). Here’s a link to a video showing pretty much what the keyboard area looked like and what the organ sounded like: Aeolian-Skinner Organ. Plus, as some of you may know, the sanctuary space was used for the “choosing” scene in the movie Divergent.

Seventeenth Church of Christ, Scientist

What a great day, visiting and viewing some of Chicago’s amazing architectural heritage. And, while there was zero terrain, our Open House Chicago adventure resulted in a substantial “city hike” (15,314 steps for the day – yes, I’m one of those goofs who is obsessed by how many steps I take each day).

find a trail ~ find your path

~Trail Tracing

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