Posted: November 6th, 2012 under Travel.
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Flag of Chicago


The flag of Chicago depicts two blue stripes, representing Lake Michigan and the Chicago River, and four red stars, representing significant historical events in the city.  I believe the Chicago flag should depict a phoenix, because out of the Great Fire of Chicago in 1871 arose a beautiful, modern city.

I had the opportunity to visit Chicago last year with my husband.  He had to attend training (advanced interventional bronchoscopy stuff.  Zzzzzz.) so I got to explore the big city of Chicago and  meet up with a high school chum, Melisa Wells.  I had not seen her since high school graduation.  Melisa sat in front of me in AP English, and we shared a fascination with British music and world travel.  Melisa wanted to become a writer; I wanted to become an exotic animal veterinarian and work in a captive breeding program in a large zoo.  Fast forward 25 years – she is a published author and I?  Well, many of you would say that I run my own zoo.

Best of all, Melisa has written a guidebook to visiting Chicago.  It is called Chicken in the Car but the Car Won’t Go: Nearly 200 Ways to Enjoy Chicagoland with Teens and Tweens.  You can check it out at  So one of the wonderful things about having an expert show me around the city of Chicago is that SHE KNOWS WHERE ALL THE COOLEST STUFF IS!

We started our day at the Rookery.  The Lobby, designed by Frank Lloyd Wrigh, was stunning.

The Rookery lobby, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright

The next stop was the Willis Building, that extremely tall skyscraper known to most of the world as “the Sears Tower”.  The building is 110 floors tall, and on the 103 floor is the breath-taking Skydeck and, best of all, the Ledge.  The Ledge is a glass room that protrudes from the building.  Brave souls can stand on the Ledge and look straight down 103 stories to the street below.  I was mesmerized.

The view from 103 stories up.


The Ledge

Spectacular skyline

View to Lake Michigan, Grant Park, Shedd Aquarium

While the Willis Tower was literally the “high point” of my visit, Melisa knew where to find, in an unlikely location, one of the most dazzling sights my eyes have beheld.  In Macy’s department store on State Street, a location that was formerly a Marshall Fields, is the largest example of Tiffany favrile glass IN THE WORLD.  Right there!  On the ceiling!  She led me to the fifth floor, where we had to squeeze past the lady’s undergarments for a closer view.

Tiffany favrile glass

On the ceiling of a department store!

Right up there on the fifth floor, along with the undergarments.

Hard to take in all the beauty!

To see this beauty in the midst of department store clutter! What must it have been like in its heyday?

After a lunch of, what else?  Chicago-style pizza, we headed toward the Wrigley Building and took an architectural boat tour.

I suppose one of the things that stands out to me about the architecture in Chicago is that the designers seemed to be led by VISION.  They did not seek to merely build a big block to “get the job done”.  They followed inspiration.  For example, one building, the AON building, is constructed to that there are no corner offices. Another skyscraper (don’t remember which) has a design that creates LOTS of corner offices.

Some buildings seemed rather playful in their design.  Aqua takes its inspiration from the undulating waters of Lake Michigan.


The Jewelers Building looks styled like a woman’s engagement ring.

Jewelers Building

Marina Building

The skyscaper, 77 West Wacker, was a modern take on a Roman temple.

Romanesque skyscraper at 77 West Wacker

Faux flying buttresses on the Tribune Tower

The skyline of Chicago is a feast for the eyes.  My son’s point-and-shoot camera does not do it justice.  Which of course means I need to plan another trip.  And hopefully, another personalized tour!

Friend and personal tour guide, Melisa Wells.





  1. That is incredible! I’ve never seen architecture like Chicago.

    Comment by Andrew — November 7, 2012 @ 10:21 pm

  2. Great post, and thanks for the book mention. That was a really, really fun day. When will you be back? :)

    Comment by Melisa — November 9, 2012 @ 12:37 am

  3. Great pics! Sounds like a fun trip. Way more fun than riding the bus together all those years. :)

    Comment by Suzanne — November 9, 2012 @ 9:32 am

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