I love visiting Chicago. I was born in Berwyn (insert Svenghoolie reference here), and could see the city skyline from my grandparents’ house there. My father used to take us kids to the museums, and I used to ride the train with my Grandmother to go downtown to see the Christmas windows. Many happy memories with my kids at the Bears Fan Convention, when it used to be at the Hilton. Chicago is indeed my kind of town, it’s got that home beat.
The Congress Plaza Hotel
This location, Michigan Avenue, between the Art Museum and the Field Museum campus, across the street from Buckingham Fountain and Grant Park, is just perfect. Got to experience sunny days, thundersnow, hail, typical Chicago weather. I like this area because it is familiar, easy to get to from the O’Hare blue line train, and in the middle of everything.
The Congress Plaza Hotel opened in 1893, in time for the World’s Columbia Exposition. It is often referred to as the most haunted hotel in Chicago, with lots of lurid stories and haunted tales.
Luckily for me, I wasn’t on the fourth or twelfth floors, which are supposed to have the most activity. Room 1252 has a murder-suicide window leap story. 441 is also on the haunted list. 978 had a gorgeous view of Buckingham Fountain, and was quiet and comfortable. I had no issues with any spirits, even on Halloween.
I have to admit that the double elevators were very Stephen King. My room had a great security system chain lock though, so no worries for me.
Buckingham Fountain, the center night photo, the lake view, and the sunrise are all from the view from my room at the Congress Plaza.
The Art Institute of Chicago
Now this is a shocker – after racking my brains to remember, I have no recollection of ever visiting the Art Institute as a child. We always went to the Field or the Museum of Science and Industry. Sitting in a Starbucks across the street, while waiting for opening time, I found myself thinking of my grandmother. She was born in Chicago in 1909. I looked up from my coffee – and – “Camille”. My grandma, Camille Leonetti Patrick, was with me on this visit.
The first stop for me was an exhibit Suzy told me about, The Thorne Minatare Rooms. I love miniature rooms so much! I only got two photos, it was difficult to deal with the glare of the glass protecting these masterpieces, be sure to click on the link to learn more and see better views, and listen to the tour. I was able to listen on the Art Institute app while visiting, it really enhanced the experience, and I learned a lot!
Note that the Connecticut Valley room pictured above has a tangled web connection to me personally. The room was donated by Gaylord Donnelley. As a child, I heard Mr. Donnelley speak at a RR Donnelley & Sons company picnic, that is where my father worked for thirty years. Locally, here in South Carolina, the Donnelley Wildlife Management Area is named for the same gentleman, Gaylord Donnelley, for his contributions to the ACE Basin here.
There was a special exhibit of architectural salvage artwork, displayed below.
In addition to a giant Tiffany window, building architecture such as the grand staircase, and the rainbow ceiling panels were works of art themselves. Along with the paintings, I enjoyed the furniture exhibit, and where can you get a snack of fresh mozzarella, roasted peppers, and homemade potato chips?
These were the paintings I enjoyed seeing the most…except – I walked really far to see that Georgia O’Keefe “Sky Above Clouds”, and was underwhelmed.
The Museum of Science and Industry
I have visited this museum more times than I can count, but this was my first visit solo. It was great to be able to wander, spend whatever amount of time I wanted to, and see the things that were most interesting to me personally.
Of course I started with the special MOLD A RAMA exhibit!
Mold A Rama is a childhood memory of Museum and Zoo trips, souvenirs of good times! I chatted with a gentleman who was filming the making of his Mold A Rama souvenir, grinning like a ten year old. We took photos of each other at the selfie station, bound by a love of smelly plastic figurines.
The blue mold on the right is one of the rarest, a failed attempt at Colleen Moore’s Castle. Too bulky. The red skull was a replica of one of the first molds.
I love the great hall, the train and cityscape, the planes and trains. A retired airline pilot volunteer, in full uniform, gave a spirited talk about the United jet on display.
The Museum was relatively quiet, there were a couple of school groups, but they were easy to avoid. When I stepped into the room and found myself alone with Colleen Moore’s Fairy Castle – WHOA! A childhood dream come true! I was able to listen to all of the narrative, and spend as much time as I wanted to!
Last but not least, the museum had a real kicker for me. My childhood Atari game system – now an exhibit at Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry. Ouch.
Just some random city shots, too interesting to not include. Top left is a strike, if you look closely you can see Scabby the Rat. These strikers were Columbia University associate professors, and from their chanting, they were angry.
Suzy and I carved pumpkins. I got to walk her neighborhood with her, and her partner got to get out of having to carve pumpkins, which they hate doing, so it was a good trip all around.
Of course the main event from this trip was Queen + Adam Lambert at the United Center, but that has an entire post of it’s own, click here. Enjoy!