Day 1,418 of Traveling the World, Chicago, Illinois. September 10, 2021.

Chicago has always been one of our favorite cities. In fact, we were lamenting that we had “only” scheduled a week there. However, we have heard more and more about the Covid Delta variant causing a lot of new cases and deaths, particularly in the southern states, where the vaccination rate is quite low. We had planned to be in those very states for about three weeks, but as we became more alarmed, decided to cancel, reroute, and return to Chicago in late October. Yes, that is how nervous we were about the states we would have been in, and about the possibility of contracting Covid. Our cousin Sandra, who lives near Lakeland, Florida, said that 20 vaccinated people in her senior community contracted Covid, and one woman died this week. So we changed our travel plans and all the time we had planned in the south.

We have wondered if the unvaccinated realize the true “cost” of their decision. Not only do they risk hospitalization and death, but if they work in any service industry, they are losing money as couples like us avoid their cities or states. Multiply us by several hundred or several thousand people who will not be spending money in hotels, cafes, restaurants, tourist sites, museums, gas stations, mini marts, and all sorts of businesses in between. If they work in a restaurant, for example, there are tips they will never receive from us, and the lack of business could lead to a restaurant’s temporary or permanent closure.

Okay, enough of that. We bought tickets to the Art Institute of Chicago, as we thought we had never been there. But inside, we noticed that we had previously seen several pieces by Chicago architects, many years ago. But we are always happy to support museums and the arts. Some of the photos below are from the art institute.

It is fun to just walk around and check out the great 19th and 20th Century buildings in Chicago, with so much ornamentation and style. In fact, we took a tour to take a peek inside some of the older buildings and see what treasures lie within. There were some surprises! You will see them below.

The other photos are from various spots around the city. On Michigan Avenue, there was a series of topiary….musical instruments! A guitar is shown below. We love the first photo, the woman’s face on Crown Fountain in Millennium Park, spouting/spitting water. There are 1,000 “ordinary” Chicagoans’ faces on the screens. Across the street, shown in the second photo, was the “Chicago Traffic Jam,” a quartet busking for tips and playing some pretty wonderful music.

We walked a good portion of the downtown, traversed the Magnificent Mile, stopped by Navy Pier, went to a few of our favorite restaurants, ate some Polish pierogies and halupkies, took the architecture tour, rode the “L” around, and just had a blast. As I said, we will return for 10 days next month, so watch for more on this great city. We end our photos with the Balloon Man. He brought a smile to our faces, as he was so intent on twisting his creation when we took the photo.

Crown Fountain in Millennium Park
Chicago Traffic Jam on Michigan Avenue
Marc Chagall’s American Windows, Art Institute of Chicago
Chestnut and pine chest carved by Paul Gauguin and Emile Bernard, titled “Earthly Paradise.” Art Institute of Chicago.
An ebony and ivory cabinet dating to 1640, from Augsburg, Germany. It is “performative furniture,” designed with surprises for those opening the drawers, doors, and secret compartments. Art Institute of Chicago.
Maquette for the Richard J. Daley Center Monument, 1965, Pablo Picasso. This is the small working model for the finished design, shown full size in the next photo.
The Picasso sculpture was unveiled to record crowds on August 15, 1967.
Interior of the pretty “Italian Village,” the oldest Italian restaurant in the city.
Bringing a bit of Venice to Chicago, this horse is titled “San Marco II,” by Ludovico De Luigi. It stands in Financial Place and was inspired by the sculptures of the horses that grace Piazza San Marco in Venice, Italy.
A fabulous Art Deco elevator door inside the Chicago Board of Trade Building. We all thought it was a martini glass, and it is labeled as such on internet photos. But our tour guide said it is an agricultural motif, with sheaves of wheat at the top. But, yeah….martini glass!
Glass wall and ceiling, Chicago Board of Trade Building.
The Rookery Building, 1886. It looks heavy, powerful, clunky, almost indestructible. The next photo is the surprise interior! The interim city hall that was formerly on this site was named The Rookery because of the birds that crowded around it as well as the politicians that flocked inside. When that building was demolished, they kept the name for the new building.
We walked inside to an ethereal, light, airy, gold-embossed structure with floral motifs and a glass ceiling that brought the outdoors inside. You would never dream of this interior belonging to its exterior!
Chicago Cultural Center, former central public library. We loved the arches inscribed with the names of famous authors.
The Tiffany Glass Dome, Chicago Cultural Center.
The fabulous Harold Washington Library Center, 1991. It took the place of the former central public library, which is now the Chicago Cultural Center.
The Winter Garden penthouse, 9th floor of the library.
Guitar topiary!
The beautiful, ornamented Carbon and Carbide Building, 1929.
One side of a bridge pillar over the Chicago River on Michigan Avenue.
Beautiful iron and glass work – Michael Jordan Steakhouse inside the InterContinental Hotel. Originally the Medina Athletic Club, 1928.
A fun fountain/pool with water jets at Navy Pier. One girl was in, sopping wet; her sister watched her longingly but stepped back when the water looked like it would hit her. We commented to her mother, “You have two very different daughters!” She said, “Yes, the younger one is very elegant, and doesn’t want to get wet at all. The older one will do anything.”
The Crystal Gardens, a 1-acre indoor botanical garden at Navy Pier.
Living World Series Gentlemen,” by Ju Ming, 2003.
Such a pretty, stacked design….for a parking structure!
The castle-like Chicago Tribune building, on the right, is one that we pause and look at every time we walk down Michigan Avenue.
The. Balloon. Man. Nothing else needs saying.