Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Chicago :: The Cultural Mile

The Bowman
Buckingham Fountain
I've been to Chicago more times than I can count. I have always enjoyed my trips to this city, but nothing ever really tugged at me to visit on my own dime.

Oh, don't get me wrong. Miracle Mile is lovely, but honestly it is a sort of a 'mini me' to NYC. Ok, ok ... I hear you all out there shouting at me. But seriously, if I wanted to do some high-end shopping, New York will do. I'm not exactly sure why I always thought that this little section of Michigan Ave was the extent of 'downtown' Chicago, but boy was I wrong. Really, really wrong. 

Yes, and now I hear you all laughing at me. That's ok. It's justified. How is it that I never made it down the other end of Michigan Ave to what Chicago calls its Culture Mile? As crazy as it might sound, all of my trips to Chicago have been for business, even this last time. And per usual, work booked me a few paces from the office just off of ... yes, Miracle Mile.

Monroe Harbor
But this time it was different. I was in town for a conference over at Roosevelt University, which is just across the street from Grant Park, which is next to the Art Institute and across the street from the Symphony. As I jumped in my cab from the hotel over to the University I headed down the other end of Michigan Ave ... my jaw dropped as one amazing view after another was rushing by the window. Yes, I saw 'the Bean' and those water fountains that spit water out the mouth of the image (you kinda have to see it to understand it), but then there was the Art Institute, the Symphony, the University and the expanse of Grant Park. I was sitting there wondering how I had never been to this end of town? And I was rapidly trying to figure out how to cram in a few minutes of sight seeing while I was in town.

I did manage to get out of the conference and walk across the street to Grant Park, and then all the way out to the water's edge of Lake Michigan at Monroe Harbor. Wow, what a view. It always amazes me how vast the Great Lakes are with only water on the horizon. I've always felt that I needed to live by the sea, but I can see why living along the Great Lakes could feel good. 

Metra Commuter Rail
At the heart of Grant Park is a huge water fountain (Buckingham Fountain) that gives you a light spray from the breeze off the lake, and a wonderful way to cool down on a hot summer's day. As you can see from my pictures the weather was absolutely stunning.

As you walk back toward the university you pass by two huge bronze, equestrian statues that stand as gatekeepers to Congress Plaza called The Bowman and The Spearman. They were made in Zagreb, the capital of Croatia by a local sculptor, Ivan Meštrović. The original one was supposed to be a Cowboy, according to a friend who lives in Chicago. The muscular figures are eye-catching, to the point where you don't realize that their weapons are actually missing. Local stories suggest that they were taken as an elaborate prank; however that really is just lore. Meštrović omitted the weapons intentionally and left them to the imagination. In between the bronze statues is one called Daphne. I didn't realize that typically she is a trellis with flowers growing up her skirt. Since I was in between the next growth, she looked a bit bare, but if you click on the link you'll see her in all her glory.

I think the best part of my quick trip to Chicago was that I was able to slip out for an hour and meet up with a bloggy friend that I have known for years, but never met. Bobbie works at the Symphony, only a block from my conference, so it was just enough time to meet over a quick lunch. She was exactly as I imagined she would be, sweet, funny and very welcoming. She gave me a beautiful gift of earrings and some fun beads to work with. Thank you - I love them! 
This trip to Chicago was nothing like my previous ones. I will be back, this time on my own dime and hopefully doing some bead shopping with my friend Bobbie.


  1. Isn't it fun to explore new parts of a "familiar" city!

  2. Glad you got to explore a new part of Chicago on this latest trip! I've only been to Chicago once and I enjoyed it very much. I hope to visit NYC one day and hopefully meet up with a beady friend too! ;)

  3. For right now I just want to say thank you for sharing all this and I will be back to check out each link. I've never been to either city so it will be a great treat!

  4. Glad you got to do some sightseeing between meetings! And how lovely you met up with a blog friend :) Love the fountain!

  5. These photos are gorgeous. I have always wanted to visit Chicago. Particularly for the pizza and blues. :) Daphne looks amazing. How cool that her skirt can be used as a trellis. Brilliant design! Cities like this have so much to see. Multiple trips are a must.

  6. I was only in Chicago once on a 5 hour layover between trains, with my parents. All we did was Water Tower Place and my dad took me to the top of the Hancock Bldg cause the Sears Tower was a bit too far. I love your pics! Looks like a fun trip.

  7. Some of the museum exhibits I've enjoyed most were actually in Chicago (at the time - I know a few were traveling). The Great Lakes are pretty impressive, aren't they? In many places you basically can't tell you're not at the ocean. Glad you enjoyed this trip a bit more than previous ones!

  8. What a gorgeous area! Wow! I have never been! So nice you could meet with a bloggy friend! So special! Big Hugs!

  9. Looks like a great place to visit, judging by the photos. Thanks for sharing!

  10. I'm glad you had fun in my city and got to explore beyond the shopping!

  11. I always hear good and bad about Chicago, it's either grand or it's so grim you get shot in imaginary paranoia land.

  12. So good you got a chance to explore! :)

  13. Well, I never had a hankerin' to go to Chicago, either. Never been, but you make it sound interesting. I have always preferred the outdoors, like Yellowstone, Yosemite, Sequoia, Crater Lake etc. Actually, any mountain with do.


AntiquityTravelers on Etsy