Sunday, July 27, 2014

Chicago's Hancock 360 Views, Eataly and Shaw's Crab House!

If you visit Chicago please make sure to include a visit to one of the observation decks available that will give you magnificent views of the city! On a prior visit I visited the Willis Tower--click here to read that post.  While that visit was unique, as I was above the clouds, my visit to the John Hancock building's 94-floor observation deck was even more enjoyable! Located at 875 North Michigan Avenue, this buildings views 1,000 feet above the skyline of...

.....downtown Chicago......

......and Lake Michigan, are fantastic!

I loved the view of the historic Navy Pier, where I had so much fun a few days before! 
(click here, and here, and here to read those posts)

On a clear day, it is even possible to see four surrounding states! It is exciting to walk around the enclosed observation deck and see the views and points of interest from North, South, East, and West

I took this photo of a new feature that was almost finished in a portion of the observation windows.  It is called "Tilt" and allows eight people at a time to stand in the special mechanized window which tilts forward and outward for a few seconds.

The following YouTube video shows the experience:

Would you try it?  

As part of the admission ticket we bought to go to the Hancock #60 Observation deck, was a free return nighttime visit. Since our hotel was conveniently located very close by, my husband and I were able to do this after dinner that evening.

It was nice to see the day time views lit up for the night!  Everything looked very magical!

When I lived in New York City I was a frequent visitor of the all Italian specialty store and food hall called Eataly, located in Manhattan (see those blog posts here,  here, and here) Early one morning I had the opportunity to take a walk over to the new Chicago Eataly, located at 43 East Ohio Street! The store was almost an exact replica of the NYC's Eataly, with a few exceptions.  I picked up a couple "hard to find" dried pasta to bring back home with me and wished I could have bought more.  

Of course, no visit to Chicago is complete without enjoying one of the city's fabulous restaurants and this trip my husband and I were able to enjoy a dinner at Shaw's Crab House, located at 21 East Hubbard Street, Chicago. The decor, service, and food were impeccable! We enjoyed a cold seafood appetizer for two, and I had sauteed soft shell crabs served with jicama, papaya, and avocado relish, and my husband had a Parmesan crusted haddock, with sauteed spinach and lemon butter as our entrees. We shared a delicious berry encrusted cheesecake slice.

I have to say Chicago has become one of my favorite places to visit, and I know I will return to this scenic, exciting city again in the future, and I hope I've also enticed you to visit one day.

I hope everyone is having a very enjoyable summer.  My family recently returned from a week vacation in the Outer Banks in North Carolina, where we all rented a beach house and enjoyed the surf, sights of wild horses and dolphins, and gorgeous sunsets. Come back soon to see my next post and find out what very special family event we were celebrating!

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Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Driehous Gallery and the Smith Museum of Stained Glass Windows

When I visited Chicago recently, I wanted to see the historic Navy Pier, as I had heard it is the number one tourist destination in the Midwest. I was very excited when I found out that the pier contained two free stained glass gallery/museums.  I have always been interested in the beauty and workmanship of stained glass, especially Tiffany stained glass. The Tiffany window above was in the Driehaus Gallery and was entitled "Christ and the Apostles," It was made in 1890.  It depicts Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane with eleven of his apostles. The color, radiance, and detail of the glass are magnificent! (Please click on all the photos and photo collages in this post to enlarge them, in order to see the wonderful details)

The Richard H Driehaus Gallery of Stained Glass is located near the top of Chicago's Navy Pier and contains eleven of Tiffany Studios stained glass windows, ranging from Ecclesiastical to secular landscapes. This gallery is part of the Richard H. Driehaus Museum, located at 40 East Erie Street, in Chicago, Illinois, which is dedicated to the design and decorative arts of America's Gilded Age.

"The Annunciation" Tiffany Stained Glass

Louis Comfort Tiffany ( 1848-1933) was an American artist, designer, and decorator.  He revolutionized the art of stained glass making in the 1870'a. In his New York glass factory, he developed new types of glass, such as drapery, opalescent, etched, rippled mottled, and enameled glass. Tiffany built his reputation on stained glass window commissions for public buildings, churches, and private clients. Many of these windows can still be viewed in their original locations worldwide.

More Tiffany windows on display in the Driehaus Gallery

I was mesmerized by the beauty of all the windows...

...and the brilliance of their color and design.

This Tiffany window, entitled "Chicago Skyline" was commissioned in 1928 for an electrical company in Joliet, Illinois, to commemorate the electrification of both rural and urban America.

The Smith Museum of Stained Glass Windows is a permanent display of 150 stained glass windows housed in an 800 foot long series of galleries in Festival Hall on the Navy Pier, with free admission. It is the first museum in the United States dedicated solely to stained glass, divided by artistic theme into four categories: Victorian, Prairie, Modern, and Contemporary. All of the windows were designed by prominent local, national and European studios, and most were originally installed in Chicago area, residential, commercial and religious buildings.

As you walk through the gallery the windows are displayed with either natural light...

...or backlighting.

These were a small example of the many exquisite stained glass windows on display.

There were also many examples of Tiffany stained glass in the Smith collection, both the ones above...

...and these.....

...and these!

There was also an assortment of modern stained glass, such as this piece entitled 'The American Flag 2001" by mosaic glass artist Khaim Pinkhasik. As a native New Yorker, any tribute to 9-11 touches my heart, and I found this piece to be dazzling!

I could have spent all day browsing and admiring the stained glass in both the gallery and museum and I'm sure if I ever return on a visit to Chicago they will be high up on my list of places I'd like to see again.

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Sunday, July 13, 2014

Tall Ship Windy Cruise of Lake Michigan

While on a recent trip to Chicago, my husband and I visited its historic Navy Pier. Click here to read that post. While there we saw that we could buy a ticket at the pier to take a cruise of Lake Michigan on the Tall Ship Windy--a 148-foot schooner /Tall Ship. It is designed in the tradition of 19th Century schooners but built of modern materials  It was a beautiful "blue sky and fluffy white clouds" type of day, so we knew a sail would be a special treat!

As we boarded the ship we were greeted by a crew member named "Red Beard," who gave us all the necessary information and instructions about Tall Ship Windy and our role as passengers for the next seventy-five minutes.

I found a comfortable (and safe) seat on board and was ready for the adventure to begin!

The views of both the Navy Pier and the Chicago skyline were spectacular as we sailed away from the pier.

In the distance, you can see Chicago's largest building--the Willis Tower! It is Chicago's tallest building and was the tallest building in the Northern hemisphere until the recent completion of One World Trade Center in Manhattan replaced it. If you missed my post about our visit "above the clouds" to this building, click here. It has an amazing view!

Didn't the clouds look magnificent this day?

Just look at how beautiful they appeared hanging over the city as we sailed further away!

As the Chicago skyline shrunk in the distance, the further away we sailed from the shore, the cloud's shadows kept changing the color of Lake Michigan from an aquamarine blue to deep sea green.

On the other side of the ship, we could see further out towards the very large expanse of Lake Michigan. Lake Michigan is one of the five great lakes of North America, and the only one located entirely within the United States. It is the second largest of the Great Lakes by volume and the third largest by surface area after Lake Superior and Lake Huron. You can see the Chicago Harbor Lighthouse in the distance.

The Chicago Harbor Lighthouse is an automated, active lighthouse, and stands at the end of the northern breakwater protecting the Chicago Harbor, to the east of Navy Pier and the mouth of the Chicago River.

The lighthouse was built in 1893 for the World Colombian Exposition and was moved to its present location in 1919.  The lighthouse was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984 and later was designated as a Chicago Landmark in 2003.

As we enjoyed the 75-minute cruise, we learned about Chicago's historical maritime roots and legends through some unique stories told by Red Beard, and from the captain and his mates.

It was interesting to watch the crew raise and lower the Tall Ship's sails in order to navigate windy Lake Michigan.

We shared this part of Lake Michigan with many other vessels, and it was fun to watch them come and go.

Slowly we sailed back towards the Navy Pier.

We wanted to see more of the pier after we departed the ship, and in my next post, I'll show you some amazingly beautiful varieties of stained glass--some Tiffany glass--on exhibit at a museum on the pier.

As we slipped back into port we were greeted by a cacophony of seagulls that were resting on an abandoned pier.....

..they were a remarkable sight!

We wished a hearty "goodbye and return soon" by Red Beard before we disembarked.  Since we enjoyed this cruise very much I think we will definitely do a repeat sail on a future visit to Chicago--it was a wonderful time!

Come back next post to see the magnificent stained glass exhibits on display at two museums on Navy Pier!

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