Saturday, July 30, 2011


Welcome to Chicago!  Chicago is the third largest city in the U.S. by population, and the fifth most economically powerful city in the world!  Often called "Chi-town" and "The Windy City," there are almost 2.7 million people living here.  Fortunately for me, it was not too windy on the day of my brief visit.  :-)

Besides being home to all of those people, it is also home to the oh-so-delicious Chicago-style deep dish pizza!  Buttery biscuit-like crust, thick ooey-gooey  mozzarella, with a topping of a rich tomato-ey goodness.  Yum!  Of course I had some while I was there.  Maybe it's a good thing that I don't live in Chicago, or else I might have to start calling myself Round Stanley.

Chicago got so big, not because of its delectable pizza, but because of its strategic location.  In its early history, it was a transportation hub for people and goods, thanks to a port on Lake Michigan, connection with the Mississippi River watershed, and some of the first railways.  Add in some natural resources, especially surrounding farmlands, and you've got a recipe for growth.

Chicago's got a lot of attractive architecture, making for a pleasant stroll downtown.

Pleasant indeed!  At least on a sunny, spring or summer day.  I'm not so sure I would be prepared for a Chicago windy winter of sub-zero temperatures!

Towering flowers and buildings in harmony.

I had a destination in mind for downtown, and that was the Art Institute of Chicago (AIC).  The AIC is repository to some of the world's greatest and well known art, such as American Gothic below.

Picasso's Blue Room

Besides the big-name stuff, there were just some really cool pieces, like this chimera.

Beautiful Tiffany dragonfly lampshade.  That would go so well in my house, but they refused to let me have it.

What a freaky frog/man sculpture!

This was quite the African mask.

This charming Mexican farming couple spoke to me, but not literally.  ;-)

With the sun barely peaking through the morning mist, this looks like it could be a scene from the early settlement of the United States.

These strange figurines were pretty odd.  Perhaps they were decorations, or idols, or trophies?

And if the figurines made you wonder, well, AIC had some rather funky modern art to really make your mind wonder, and wander.

Of course, not all of the art was so abstract.  Some was just pure beauty, like these ladies picking lotus blossoms.

After the art museum, I stepped out into Millennium Park, a truly beautiful public space in the heart of downtown.

The Jay Pritztker Pavilion is an outdoor amphitheater with a comfy green lawn, perfect for sprawling out a blanket for a picnic dinner while listening to Bach and Beethoven , for free, like these folks were setting up to do.  :-)

In the park, they have a number of "gates," with probably one of the most popular being the Cloud Gate, a giant stainless steel structure polished to a mirror finish.  Locals call it "the bean."  It is really cool to walk around and see the warped landscape reflected to you, and to see your own body flexed and scrunched too.  On to my next journey!

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