Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The CAF River Cruise, finally

[Note: I finally put the story/captions in on the Election Day post below this one, so it's like two new blog posts at once!]
In a few days I'll be disappointing people. Maybe that's not new, but I'll be disappointing them in a very specific way--telling them that the Chicago Architecture Foundation Architecture River Cruise is over for the season. (Last ones, Sunday Nov. 23.) On my first CAF volunteer shifts last year after the season ended, one visitor after another was somewhat crushed to hear there'd be no more boat tours till spring. But I'd remind them, and you, that's there's a pretty good line-up of year-round downtown walking and building tours, and bus tours, not to mention exhibits and lectures and classes at the Archicenter...

I finally took the river cruise again this year. I hadn't taken it since a little before (or after?) I moved here; I went on it with my parents then, and hadn't retaken it since becoming a CAF volunteer. As a longtime volunteer I have a membership and as a member I'd get one 2-for-1 admission each year, and this year I found someone to go with me.

Christopher ("You have a blog? Did you mention me? Did you say 'oh, that jerk?'"), aka Chocolate-Milk, was visiting from Milwaukee for a day, and we planned to go. I got the tickets at CAF and rushed to meet him at Union Station, and we got a cab to the dock.

I'll be posting a dozen or more shots from this, some the same, some different, on Flickr. I've turned an unofficial guideline into an actual rule here--I don't post photos of myself or friends on the blog. But on Flickr is fine...so that's where I am and where Christopher is.

Obviously, these have been photos of the boat, its bar (didn't have anything), the captain and the docent. I recommend showing up in plenty of time so you get to hear the docent--this one, at least--give a lot of supplementary information before the tour starts, I enjoyed it...Chris and I sat in the front row. It was a beautiful mid-September weekday.

I'm not actually going to name and explain these buildings; I just wanted to get the photos (in chronological order) up. It didn't hit me just how many bridges there are in downtown Chicago until the boat had to go under them all...and I took photos of every single one to document that. Most bridge shots didn't turn out.

There's the water taxi, which I've still never tried, in the background.

I like the birdhouse in this shot.

Older building with ugly balconies attached.

I don't think you see much ivy downtown.

The rare bridge shot that's not a blur.

I really enjoyed the tour and loved getting to see the familiar skyline from a totally different vantage point (many different vantage points), but is it weird that the most exciting thing to me was the appearance of this concrete barge?

Look how close we are to the concrete!

Many familiar buildings. This, of course, is often just called the "Wilco building!" (I searched that phrase on Flickr. Turns out there's an actual Wilco building, unrelated to Chicago, the band, or album covers.)

And to finish, some new construction...some popular, some not so much.

Those are the photographic highlights of the tour. I'm not sure I've done enough to convince people to go, but it's quite popular already! Chris and I stopped a few places on Michigan Ave. (two places I'd never been--the Chicago Blackhawks store [which I didn't even know existed], and a Chipotle [seriously, never been in a Chipotle before]--and Millennium Park, which I have fun showing to visitors). We went to Pilsen and both met Christa aka chloeloe for the first time to walk around Pilsen taking photos until it started getting dark. Then Chris and I hung out briefly at the bar at Union Station that's just off the old waiting room, and was surprisingly cheap.

More about architecture: So Flickr has at least two groups for photos of Frank Lloyd Wright buildings, and one for Daniel Burnham, and even one for Warren and Wetmore, but had NONE for Louis Sullivan/Adler & Sullivan architecture. Until I finally started the Louis Sullivan group I've promised for a while. I started an Albert Kahn one as well, since I've become well acquainted with his work on my Detroit visits. Drunk with power, I created a Cass Gilbert group too...well, actually I haven't started that one yet because I haven't posted any of my own photos yet (from buildings in St. Louis and Detroit; there are no Gilbert buildings in Chicago). If you have any relevant photos on Flickr, please join and add them!

Friday, November 07, 2008

Election day photodiary

Election Day, I more than made up for my lack of campaign/Barack Obama-related photos taken this year. I originally posted this without captions, but now I've added them. All images were captured on Nov. 4 (or early Nov. 5), and are in chronological order. You'll note I wasn't actually in the celebratory rally in Grant Park.

part one: vote
No lines at my polling place (an apartment building) very close by. In fact, the whole process took 20 minutes, including walking and taking photos outside. Voting itself only took 10 of those minutes, and of those, most was taken up by: sitting on a couch to fill out the ballot and realizing I was probably supposed to use the booth-like thing; realizing I knew next-to-nothing about all but the top few contests on the ballot; wondering if I should vote Green on those to support the theoretical idea of a major third party; being amused that a candidate (not who I voted for) for the Water Reclamation District was named "Clearwater"; leaving everything about judges blank and feeling bad about it; wondering if I made an error on one part and panicking I'd have to fill out another ballot. It went through the machine fine, I got my receipt, and left.

There were a few free goodies to be had with a ballot slip, but the only one I got was a Starbucks coffee, grabbed at the Damen/North store before catching the Milwaukee bus downtown. It occurred to me I could do that over and over again, getting free coffee at different locations, but only had the one. I was wired enough later anyway...

part two: Kenwood/Hyde Park

I picked up a fancy sandwich in Kenwood at a place that turns out be right by Eric (of "reallyboring" fame), so I dropped by for a little bit, finally seeing the apartment that's been in so many of his Flickr 365 Days shots. He was on his way to an election night party and we walked there, noticing the extra security and street closures near the Obama house.

I stopped by the Hyde Park Borders--not much of an Obama display--and the Walgreens, drawn in by the sign. Yes, there was lots of Obama merchandise.

His books, next to a pet foot care item. (Same display a few days later.)

Many styles of sweatshirts and t-shirts. (Some of these, and many new designs, there several days later. Costing at least $5 more.)

Stickers and buttons and a stray Valentine's-like balloon. (These were all gone later in the week, but there were plenty of new commemorative magazines.)

I hadn't seen this style of hat elsewhere, so I bought one. Total with tax, $6.12. (Later in the week, bought another, for $10 + tax.)

part three: in the Loop, pre-rally

So I headed from Hyde Park to the Loop on a very crowded (I got a seat!) #6 bus. People were very excited, and even cheered when it was announced Pennsylvania went to Obama. I got out in the South Loop and peeked at TVs showing news (of course I'd been listening to it, mostly NPR, all day).

Outside the Hilton, Michigan Ave.

The crowds were pouring in for the rally at Grant Park. I didn't have a ticket, nor had I tried to get one, nor was I trying to get in, or even to cross to the other side of the street. I just wanted to observe the excitement...

Walking further north...

Leaving, walking into the Loop, observing streets shut down. I wanted to go home for a bit to watch news, record stuff, and upload the photos I had already.

part four: the news (at home)

So when the news finally broke, I was half paying attention--looking online, watching TV, listening to NPR all at once. The actual moment seemed underwhelming. I'm sure it would have been more exciting if I hadn't been alone...but I did get a call from a friend before long.

I checked a blog first...then realized I should go to all the major news sites immediately and get screenshots of the news.

part five: post-rally

I took the same bus back downtown, but by the time I got back the rally was basically over. But again, still an interesting scene for photos. Much celebrating...

I always like an "aftermath" shot. (I liked the angle, and the "real power," here.)

I wondered where the powerful smell of onions was coming from. Turned out it was the median strip filled with decorative chive plants, a bit crushed by now.

Finding a restroom in the Loop after midnight isn't the easiest thing, but I knew Metra stations would work. I decided to go into the Van Buren station--I've passed through it on trains before, but never actually been in the station. I actually had to go through (minimal) security to get in--making sure I didn't have any glass bottles of booze or whatever.

Plenty of merchandise from official and unofficial vendors was available. I found a giant "HOPE" poster slightly crumpled in a box and took it (buying one would have only been $5).

The hot-off-the-presses Tribunes were available outside the L station, 2 for $1 (the Trib is normally 75 cents). I wanted one to commemorate the moment and get this shot, and thought friends outside of town might like some, but didn't want to carry much stuff, so I only bought one, biggest mistake ever when I wound up spending hours and hours the next day fruitlessly searching for papers in a far-flung corner of the city (well, I did find one copy of the Tribune, and Polish and Spanish papers). I can't believe I only bought one. Oh well. A different version of this became my "most interesting" photo on Flickr, my first to get more than 20 favorites, and comments from people around the world congratulating America. I wish I'd done more that day to actually be social, it would have been nice to be in Grant Park for the big moments, but I'm happy with what I did.