Looking up (way up) in Chicago

I have yet to set foot in a more beautiful big city downtown than Chicago’s.   It’s fairly compact and walkable, has a river running through it (always a plus for someone born near the water), and is unafraid and unashamed of the interplay of modern and older architectural styles present in its skyscrapers.  On a sunny day, it really is something special.  And luckily for me, on my recent trip there, the sun was out in full force.  Perhaps no other single view point provides a better snapshot of the beauty of the downtown area than at the point the Chicago River passes underneath Michigan Avenue:

Chicago River skyline

Look at that: new and old, mingling in perfect harmony.  Crossing over the river and dropping down to the level of the water to walk along the “River Walk” offers a unique perspective on the city.   Looking back up toward the spot from which I took the above picture, there’s a great view of the Wrigley Building (on the left with the clock on the tower) and the Tribune Tower (right):

Wrigley Building and Tribune Tower, Chicago

Just next to the Wrigley Building is the 96 story tall Trump Tower.  Looking almost straight up at it is dizzying.  Even at this exceptional height, it “fits” spatially and design wise into this area.

Trump Tower, Chicago

Continuing the River Walk westward, you next come across Marina City on State Street.   These buildings were completed in the mid sixties and are both almost 600 feet tall.

Marina City, Chicago

As you continue westward, these two buildings on the south side of the Chicago River are among my favourite modern skyscrapers in Chicago.  On the left is 77 West Wacker and on the right, the Waterview Tower.   I just love the indentation and detailing on the Waterview.  On 77 West Wacker, the design and edging are a nice tip of the cap to the neighbouring older buildings, making this modern one feel right at home.

77 West Wacker and Waterview Tower, Chicago

On my first evening in Chicago, I was blessed with a wonderful sunset that illuminated the buildings along the Chicago River as I walked back to my hotel from dinner.   I stood here on the bridge just to drink in this scene for a while:

Chicago River skyline

Standing on an El platform in the West Loop before making my way back to River North one night, there was this view of the ever present Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower).   At 1,450 feet tall, it was considered the tallest building in the world on its completion in 1973.  Many still considered it the tallest in the world even after the completion of the CN Tower in Toronto a few years later.

Willis Tower, Chicago

My truly favourite modern building in Chicago is 333 Wacker Drive.   The curvature of the building mimics the curve the river takes in this location.   I love the reflected views of the northern skyline in it’s greenish-bluish glass surface.

333 West Wacker Drive, Chicago

Being from a small city that is in some ways afraid of large buildings and modern architecture, it’s great to see the wonderful mix of architectural styles in Chicago’s skyscrapers.   The thought that has gone into the design of these buildings makes for a great time just wandering the downtown and looking (way) up.



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