Monday, May 31, 2010

Trip 29: Michigan Ave

Date: May 23, 2010
Trip: 29
Landmarks Visited: 21
Landmarks To-Date: 54
Landmarks Remaining: 299

On Sunday I took the bus to the north end of Michigan Avenue and started walking south. My goal was to see all of the landmarks on Michigan. I didn't make it all of the way, but I walked from 900 N Michigan to 2600 South, so it was a pretty good distance and I saw 21 landmarks. The northern end of Michigan Avenue is a high-end shopping district known as the Magnificent Mile.

As you head south you enter an area of more corporate offices near the Chicago River, and then farther south is part of the cultural district. I walked past the Museum of the Art Institute of Chicago and the Cultural Center. Next comes a more residential area of the South Loop, and then the most vacant (at street level) Motor Row. I ended my walk just where Michigan Avenue crosses I-55 just south of the McCormick Place convention center.

Palmolive Building

The Palmolive Building is an art deco tower that was built as a headquarters for Colgate-Palmolive. Later it was home to Playboy, and now it's a luxury condo complex. The building has a spire on top that I've been told originally had a spot light on it. As taller buildings were built around it, apparently the neighbors started to complain and use of the light was discontinued.

Old Chicago Water Tower District
The Water Tower is beloved in Chicago because it was one of the few buildings that survived the Great Chicago Fire because of its stone construction. Today the district houses a small art gallery, a theatre, a tourist center and a working fire station.

Perkins, Fellows & Hamilton Office and Studio

The plaque describes this landmark better than I could.

Allerton Hotel

The Allerton Hotel is probably most famous for the sign at the top of the hotel that says "Tip-Top-Tap".

Farwell Building
This is the first landmark that was gone before I got to photograph it. As you can see in the photo, today it's just a construction site. It used to be home of the Terra Museum of American Art, but it closed and most of its collection is on long-term loan to the Art Institute of Chicago.
I think Ritz-Carlton brand luxury condos were planned for the site before the real estate bust. I don't know if the plan is still going forward. Some of the landmarked building might be back because I also think the facade was saved and will be used for the front of the new building.

McGraw-Hill Building
This building is most recognized for the relief sculptures on the facade. Today it is part of a shopping mall.

Woman's Athletic Club

Tribune Tower

Site of Fort Dearborn

Fort Dearborn was the first permanent European presence in Chicago. Today there are simply markers in the sidewalk outlining the original fort walls.

Carbide and Carbon Building

This is one of my favorite buildings on Michigan. It has a facade of green stone and brass accents. The building also has a spire of dark green and brass. Today the building houses a Hard Rock Hotel.

London Guarantee Building
This building today houses Crain's publications, although I have read that Crain's is considering moving.

333 North Michigan Building

Historic Michigan Boulevard District

This area of Michigan is famous because the parks on the east side of the street offer beautiful views of the curtain wall of buildings on the west side of the street.

Gage Group

Fine Arts Building

The Fine Arts Building holds a theatre, artists' studios and small offices. It's the only building on this trip that I walked inside to photograph the interior. This is also the only building in Chicago that I know of that still has elevator operators. There is also an outdoor atrium in the building on maybe the 4th floor with a fountain. But I've heard that it's no longer open due to safety issues with the building.

Auditorium Building

The Auditorium Building houses a pretty famous live performance space. I like the exterior of the building because it is so massive. The walls and the pillars are incredibly thick.

Blackstone Hotel

I think the Blackstone is famous because the term 'smoke-filled rooms' was coined there to describe meetings of the 'Chicago Democratic Machine' were held there. This would have been during the time when the Chicago machine influenced national as well as local elections.

Former Engine Company 104, Truck 31

This old firehouse is now a nice looking restaurant.

Chess Records

Chess Records was a blues label, I think. Today the building houses a small museum.

Motor Row

There are a lot of photos of Motor Row, because it is a huge district. It runs from the 1400 block of S Michigan to 2600 South. It was the orginal home to car dealerships in Chicago. Today it looks like only one lonely Ford dealership is left. Many of the buildings look like they have been renovated, with condos or offices on the upper floors. But most of the street level spaces are vacant. I took one interior shot of a tile floor, because I thought it was pretty fancy for a car dealership.

Motor Row: Illinois Auto Club building

This building is part of the Motor Row District, but it really is worthy of a designation of its own. I first saw it when I went to the area to watch the Chicago marathon with my brother Kevin. I immediately liked the buidling. It was originally the headquarters of the Illinois Auto Club. Later it was home the the Chicago Defender, a major African American newspaper. The building is now abandoned, with boarded-up windows. But it does appear to be structurally sound.
I especially like the clock tower with a weathervane shaped like a car.

Second Presbyterian Church

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