NYC #1- I have returned from "The City"...

I am home again, and had a great trip. The weather was as miserable (hot, sticky and moist) in NYC as it was in Chicago when I left, that is until Thursday. As a result, I didn't get to take as many photos as I had hoped. But, I have about 500 more than I did before.
The first day I was there, we were headed to a Portuguese restaurant in the Ironbound neighborhood in Newark, NJ. While in transit we stopped and wandered around the WTC area. Here is a shot of the newly complete (and currently vacant) Seven World Trade building. I am impressed that this was designed and built in a relatively short amount of time, and in doing so, they actually built a building that I think can hold it's own design-wise.

The Millenium Hilton (yes, that is the spelling) across the street from WTC was closed for a while after the disaster, but has since re-opened. The reflective quality of the windows is fantastic.

We caught a train to Newark at the new WTC Path station (2003). The station is quite nice for being a temporary structure.. It is sleek, elegant, and quite functional. This is rare example of good design happening under the pressure of a timeline by a governmental agency.

I plan to post images of what I saw in NYC mixed with my usual posts of Chicago images for the next couple of weeks, and then I will return to just Chicago.


Still on Vacation...

I am still enjoying time away from reality (Chicago), and have finally found the time to do a post. So, here is a mid-vacation post for you. I will return by Saturday.

Taken in one of my favorite hoods, DUMBO, this view of the Empire State through the Manhattan Bridge is quintessential New York.

More out and about in DUMBO... "Don't be Parkin here!"

The view from Empire Fulton Ferry Park. Let me know if you can see what's wrong with one of the famous tall buildings (hint: it's towards the right) in the skyline. I will have more pics and an explanation by next week.


Gone on Vacation....

When I want to get away from the hustle and bustle of Chicago for a few days or so, I head to my favorite vacation destination. This year it is for vacation, and to celebrate a milestone b-day. I will be back by the weekend. For your pleasure, I pulled out a few of my vacation pics from last year, to show you where I plan to go.

My accommodations (shown here, center right) are courtesy of my closest friend (SRS, thanks for the free digs.)

I will be hangin around here...shootin pictures...

as well as here......and

perhaps a bit around here also. My goal is to shoot a couple of thousand images, and if I can stay sober enough to find the time, I will try to do a few posts. If not, I will do a bunch when I get back. Be sure to check back!


Shadows, Shadows, Shadows...

Black shadows on black paint, here at the "Asian House of Chicago" (Kinzie St. near LaSalle). It seems that it takes the sun shining at an acute angle to bring out the remaining italianate details from this 19th century building.

A common site, the shadows of fire escapes upon the sides of buildings. This one does a play on play, with the shadow grid upon the grid of the brick.

Sun along the alley side of my building, a brief moment my neighbors across the hall from me relish. (I get the brief moment of sun in the AM). I have walked by the alley on my way too and from for a couple of years, and I finally captured the sun at the right angle to see this very heavy, but delicate shadowing of the sills and brick.


"Unknown Loop Streets #13"... "West Quincy St"...

Yeah, Yeah, I know this isn't the most unknown of Loop Streets, especially to "L" riders, but it still fits within my definition of "Loop streets" which are not part of the primary grid.

Here is a shot down Quincy from Franklin towards the Quincy "L" Station.

Looking east towards the Quincy "L" Station from LaSalle. The Sears Tower is in the background. This area was open to traffic when I moved here in 1999, but since 911, it has been barricaded off from the public.

The NW corner of Quincy and LaSalle.

Across the street, at the Rookery Building, the architects Burnham and Root (1885-88) incorporated the street name into the design of the building. Perhaps the most eloquent street sign in the city.

Looking further east from LaSalle, we can see where Quincy runs into Clark Street at the Federal Center. Note the reflection of the Sears Tower in the Mies design Dirksen Federal Building.


Looking Upwards...

Like most people, I tend to wander around (sometimes aimlessly) looking either directly ahead of me, or at the ground in front of my feet. When I have my camera, I try to always look up. There is so much above our heads in our fair city that deserves looking up at. We should all do it more often. Here are a few things I looked upward at recently.

Daley Center (1965): In my opinion, the epitome of high modern for the latter half of the 20th century, this building expresses itself like few others. The Cor-ten Steel has developed a rich brown patina over the decades. One funny thing, I never noticed that the columns grow narrower as the ascend to the top of the building.

This support column at Contemporaine (2003) helps make for an impressive, yet subdued entrance for the residents.

200 South Wacker Drive (1981) thrusts it corner out over the sidewalk, giving a view towards the top not often available on other high-rises.

Wrigley Building (1923-23): I would imagine this 14th floor skybridge was quite unique in 1925 when it was constructed between the two towers commonly thought of as one.


People Watching at the Plensa...

As most of my visitors know, I am generally not much for taking photos of people. (I do buildings better) Today is an exception.

I have been recovering from my third case of bronchitis in the last 8 months, and was clamoring to get out of the house. This being my least favorite weather (at least in winter you can bundle up), I ventured the two blocks from my apartment over to Crown Fountain or as I prefer to call it, the Plensa Fountain (after it's designer Jaume Plensa).

Here are a few shots of some of the people I watched while steaming under the moist sun. This father clearly has his priorities right on target, ignore his little daughter, and take that phone call.

It appears that they now have "Hospitality Services" working the fountain. There were two barefoot "fountain monitors" patrolling the fountain, telling the little ones to stop running.

Clearly his priorities are in the right order. Thumb first, fun in the fountain second.

The super hero's were a nice touch.

Even partially deflated, air filled plastic can be so entertaining. I miss those days.


Big John (From the archives)...

I am still feeling a bit under the weather (temp of 101 this morning), and thanks to antibiotics, I should be feeling well within a few days. In the mean time, I will post a few pics from the archives.

Today, I bring you the John Hancock Building. I still hold on to fantasies of living there....

But the realities are that it is not likely to happen... I doubt I could get the condo board to approve adding on a balcony. Although, you can pick up a studio for about 200K. Not bad for the location, and the building.

This one ranks as one of my top ten all time favorite buildings. Powerful, yet graceful..... The epitome of the definition of a skyscraper in the latter half of the 20th Century.


Black, White and CTA all over...

"Unknown Loop Streets" is on hiatus again this week (I do still have a few streets left) mainly because I am feeling a bit crappy this evening.

Instead, I bring you a few black and white shots I took while riding the red line this past March.

B&W is an area I haven't done much exploration in. But, I think in many way's the creativity can be expanded when you are not influenced by color, but by shape and shading instead.

B&W also allows for large areas of black, which look cool in B&W, but would make no sense in color.

These stairs lead to the former Demon Dogs (rip) at Fullerton. This station is living it's last days in it's present form.

And, yes I am still cigarette free.


As Seen in River North...

When I am not in the Loop, I am often found wandering around River North (and occasionally as far north as Belmont). While on those wanderings, I often come across things I have passed by dozens of times, and yet have never seen.

Here are a few examples of some of my finds. Found this medallion over an un-used door on an SBC Building on North Dearborn, near Ontario.

Bugs! Found near the front door at Contemporaine (one of my favorite condo developments in Chicago), on the SW corner of Grand and Wells.

Not a common sight in River North any more, but here is a view of what would have been a common sight 20 years ago. Located at West Erie and Orleans, this building is of course undergoing conversion to condos.

154 East Superior. The only house on the block is currently being boxed in with new condo construction on both sides. I guess they didn't want to sell out.


On the Right Track...

Often overlooked when we ride the "L" (because we are mostly concerned that we don't sit in anything we don't want to smell like), the tracks themselves can be a source of beauty in their own right.

This view of the tracks from the over-pass at the Belmont station has much to reveal.

Looking north from Belmont, the tracks split off for the Brown Line. I lived in the black building in the distance from 2000 to 2003 (and didn't realize that I actually had a view of this).

Looking south from Belmont. When you look closely at the tracks you can see how un-even they are. This would explain why the trains rock back and forth as much as they do.

Side note: I quit smoking on July 2nd. This is a pretty big deal for me, as I have been smoking since many of my readers were under the age of 10. I have had my moments in the last week, but thanks to Nicoderm CQ (annoying site), and the support of my close friends and co-workers, I am managing to hang on. I put a li'l java script on my sidebar to keep track of the number of day's since my last smoke.


Down on the House of Blues...

From the upper 30's at Marina City, the House of Blues looks mighty blue. Taken last night, I have tried this shot on more than one occasion, so far, this is the best one to come out as of yet.

Same shot, zoomed in. The escalators to the lower level lobbies is at the left.

House of Blues Hotel. For once, a hotel that is not all beige (on the inside).


Falling Down...

(Warning: This is by far the longest post I have done to date, sit back and enjoy.)

I got off the train at Belmont this morning while on an errand and got to witness the early stages of how they bring a house down. I am guessing this is part of the Brown Line expansion project.

I came back about an 90 minutes later and could see that they were well on their way. At that point, I found my self completely engrossed in what they were doing.

After an hour of standing on the over-pass bridge (which is about 45 minutes ago at the time I am posting this), the operator of the big machine that is doing the damage took a break, and I realized how long I had been standing there, and that I needed to head home. At this moment, they are still taking this place down. Here is where I left off at.

To heighten this experience... Here are some close ups of what I saw.

There was plenty of water still in the hot water heater as they pulled it down. BTW, notice the poster on the wall on the right.

A close up of the poster, reveals my source for the title of this post.

Debris flying mid-air was quite interesting to watch. It feeds into the natural human fascination with things that fall down and go BOOM!

More flying debris, what is behind this is one of the bathrooms.

Moments later you can see right into the bathroom. That ugly glass shower door is meeting its demise in the best way I could imagine.

And finally, the bathroom seconds after the last image. Tub is gone, and I am glad I was not sitting on that toilet.

Oh, and here is the front of the house that is falling down. It's sad really to loose yet another 19th century building. Yes, I know Chicago has thousands of them, but I lament this loss because the old structures along the "L" add a lot of character to the experience of riding the train.

Thanks for indulging me with your visits to my blog, I plan to keep'em coming!