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Exploring Chicago's Art and Architecture

Exploring Chicago's Art and Architecture

Skyline from the Buckingham Fountain

Skyline from the Buckingham Fountain

Recently Matt had to travel to Chicago for work so I got to tag along.   I have been to Chicago several times before and have seen most of the sights but this trip I really wanted to dive deeper into the art and architecture of the city.

What Chicago lacks in any sort of vertical landscape is made up by the city’s awesome architecture and we had fun exploring the art hidden within the layers of buildings.  In this post I’ll walk you through how to experience the art and architecture of Chicago that you won’t get on most tours, and it won’t cost you tour prices.

Art

Wabash Arts Corridor

Cost: Free!

I loved the Wabash Arts Corridor.  It’s a small 2-3 block radius with large street murals.  My favorite is the moose playing with some bubble gum.  It’s a really fun area to take some good pictures.

The Tribune Tower

Cost: Free!

Tribune Tower from the Michigan Ave Bridge

Tribune Tower from the Michigan Ave Bridge

The Tribune Tower in Chicago is a gothic wonder, but the facade is a work of art in itself. It's covered with different stones that reporters have allegedly brought back with them.  On the ground level relics from various landmarks can be found in the buildings facade.  Also, go INSIDE the main entrance just to have a peek. Also also, go get a drink at Dylan’s Candy Bar, it’s fun.

The Art Institute of Chicago

Cost: $25

This is a pricey but must-do stop.  The impressionism collection boasts several Monet’s, one of Van Gogh’s bedrooms and my favorite, “A Sunday on La Grande Jatte” by George Seurat.  The have some modern art too that I actually enjoyed by Georgia O’Keefe and Andy Warhol.  I think Georgia O’Keefe was the Joanna Gaines of her time, with all of her rustic feminine work.  It also has the famous American Gothic painting, which ironically always makes me smile.  American Gothic was actually submitted to the annual art exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1930 and has lived there for over 85 years.  

Architecture

Detour Walking Tour

Cost: $5

Matt and I were told before our visit that an architecture tour was a must-do, but tickets are pricey!! We found the Detour App that does audio walking tours of different cities.  The app is AWESOME and they didn’t even pay me to say that.  It uses GPS to know where you are, so it doesn’t start talking at your until you’re where you need to be.  You can also sync the audio with a friend so you stay at the same pace.   We did a couple of different walking tours, but really enjoyed the Chicago Architecture Foundation: Secrets of the Loop tour.   It was 60 minutes and took us around most of the south loop area.  Side Note: I would also recommend the River tour on the app, it will give you a great history of the city!

Winter Garden at the Harold Washington Library

Winter Garden at the Harold Washington Library

Cost: Free!

Detour will actually take you in here, but if you decide against the walking tour you can go in on your own! This building is fairly controversial, people either love it, or think it’s hideous. The Winter Garden on the very top floor is a must-see.  

Marina City

Cost: Free!

Stopping by Marina City is a quick visit, but it’s fun to know the history and purpose behind these iconic towers.  In the the 50s and 60s when everyone was leaving the city for the burbs, architect Bertrand Goldberg designed Marina City to attempt to draw residents back into the urban city.  The original bowling alley is still active, and you can go into the underbelly of the city to see his full concept of convenient, urban living.  Fun fact, you can still own a condo in Marina City for less than $300k.

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Lakeshore Drive Trail

Cost: Free!

This is an easy way to see Chicago’s skyline from the water.  The actual trail is over 18 miles long, but we just took a short walk from Navy Pier to Buckingham Fountain.  It gives you great perspective of the Chicago skyline and walks you right by the harbor.  






 

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