Dogs Over the Decades

Our dog’s been with us four years this month. I won’t post another picture of her, photogenic as she is. I have other pictures of dogs I’ve known, or met.

The first dog I remember — barely — was Caesar.

CaesarIt’s impossible to tell in this early ’60s-vintage picture, but he had a spot of pink fur next to his nose. At least, that’s what I remember as a very small child. Being a dog that roamed parts of semi-rural North Texas, he encountered (so I’m told) a nest of young rattlesnakes one spring, and that was all for him.

This is my grandmother in the 1950s, holding a young Georgette.

GrandmaandGeorgetteI remember Georgette well. She lived with my grandmother in San Antonio until the late 1960s, when the dog died of natural causes. Caesar was one of her pups.

Jay and Deb’s dog Aloysius, with the young family in 1983. I met him a number of times during ’80s visits, when my nephews were small.

AloysiusTheir dog Brynna. I think I took this picture during our visit for Thanksgiving 2001.
CollegiatePose-BrynnaJay’s current dogs, Holly and Chloe. I get to visit them when I go to Dallas. They spend a lot of time in this particular spot in the living room.

Holly ChloeAnd of course, Katie. The dog my mother had when I was in high school and beyond, 1976 to 1992, to be exact. This was the small dog that got a hold of a big bag of doughnuts, a half dozen or so, and ate them all. They didn’t stay eaten.

KatieMy friends Rich and Lisa in Massachusetts had an Irish wolfhound in the 1990s named Charlotte. I remember her well during our visit for New Year’s 1993.

CharlotteMy friends Ed and Lynn in Arizona had Bosco, whom we met during our visit in 1997. He knew some tricks, but I can’t remember what they were now.

Bosco1997Late in his life, Ed had an elderly dog named Bert living with him in Washington state. Ed sent me this picture ahead of my visit in 2015, to show how much fur Bert shed.

Bertandfur2015My friend Tom in Austin has a dog called Roscoe. He’s fond of jumping on you when you come into the room.

RoscoeLilly’s friend Rachel has a dog called Riley.

RileyFinally, one cat. In Osaka, Yuriko used to have a cat named Michael. Picture ca. 1994.

Michael

I got along with him all right, mainly because he was fond of lying around like a dog.

Two Churches & One Temple in Old Town

Towering over N. Cleveland and W. Eugenie Sts. in the Old Town neighborhood of Chicago is St. Michael’s, a Romanesque Catholic church dating from just before the Great Chicago Fire. Not good timing, since the building was thus in the path of the conflagration.

“As the fire moved past Holy Name Cathedral, religious from nearby institutions rushed to St. Michael’s for respite, but they knew that the fire was just a few hours away,” the church tells us at its web site. “Priests, brothers, and nuns, helped by parishioners, packed parish treasures onto an oxcart and fled. Soon, flames tore into all the parish buildings, leveling all of them. Only the walls of the church remained standing.”

By 1873, the church had been rebuilt, though various modifications have occurred since then.

St. Michael's, Old Town, Chicago St. Michael's, Old Town, ChicagoLook closely up there and you see the Archangel Michael, sword drawn, ready to do battle with Old Scratch and his minions.
St. Michael's, Old Town, ChicagoThe interior looks like this: Bavarian Baroque, according to the AIA Guide to Chicago.

The archangel is also depicted outside on the plaza, facing the church. His sword is at his side, after vanquishing Old Scratch (at least, I assume that’s Satan underfoot). Good thing none of the nearby telephone wires were damaged in the struggle.
St. Michael's, Old Town, ChicagoThe plaza itself is a pedestrian zone that cuts the flow of cars on that section of Eugenie St. That’s unusual. I can’t think of another church in Chicago that has one. It helps make that part of Old Town distinct.

A few blocks to the north, at Wisconsin and Orleans, is the less distinct — at least as a building — Church of the Three Crosses, which is affiliated with both the United Church of Christ and the United Methodist Church.
Church of the Tree Crosses, Old Town, ChicagoAround back, however, is a sign of the times.
Church of the Three Crosses, Old Town, ChicagoRoughly between St. Michael’s and the Church of the Three Crosses, on W. Menomonee, is the Midwest Buddhist Temple, a temple of the Jodo Shinshu school of Buddhism.

Midwest Buddhist Temple“Jodo Shinshu, also referred to as Shin Buddhism, was founded in Japan by Shinran Shonin (1173-1262),” explains the temple’s web site. “It was Shinran Shonin who made Buddhist teachings accessible to people of all walks of life — in contrast to the traditional, primarily monastic practice of Buddhism.

“Between 1900 and 1940, many Jodo Shinshu temples were founded along the West Coast of the United States. But it wasn’t until 1944 that the Midwest Buddhist Temple was founded in Chicago by Rev. Gyodo Kono — its beginning linked to the ‘resettlement’ of many Japanese-Americans who moved to the Midwest to start new lives as World War II came to a close.”

At the edge of the property is a small but lovely garden, designed by Hoichi Kurisu of Portland, Ore., who also did the Anderson Gardens in Rockford.

Midwest Buddhist TempleMidwest Buddhist Temple“The boulders, set into place by a 30-ton crane, were especially important in representing the topographical features of Shinran Shonin’s walk from Mt. Hiei to the people in the Japanese villages as he spread the teachings of Shin Buddhism.”

Luckily, these days there are funiculars connecting Mt. Hiei with the rest of Japan.

Old Town Ramble

Been going to the city more than usual lately. One destination for a recent walkabout was Old Town, a near North Side Chicago neighborhood that I’ve passed by at the edges countless times. Walked through it, not so much. On a warm day this month, when I did finally take a walk in the neighborhood along such streets as Cleveland, Hudson, Sedgwick, Orleans, and Menomenee, all north of North Ave., I had the strange feeling that I wasn’t quite in Chicago any more.

“There is a scale to Old Town, a closeness of building to street and street to cross street and curb to curb that you simply don’t find anywhere else in the city,” one Vince Michael wrote in the limited but informative blog Renown Old Town.

“It is not so much about the rope mouldings above the windows or the paired brackets and dentils at the eave or even those Furnessian ornaments on Adler & Sullivan’s Halstead Houses. It is about a premodern relationship of buildings and streets and narrow alleyways – something not unusual in Rome or the old part of Edinburgh but exceedingly rare in Chicago.”

I didn’t think of Rome during my Old Town walk, and I’ve never wandered Edinburgh, but even so something about the alignment of the neighborhood is atypical for Chicago. It doesn’t really come through in pictures, though you can get a sense of some of the area’s handsome buildings that way.

Old Town, Chicago

Old Town, ChicagoOld Town, ChicagoOld Town, ChicagoEvery interesting neighborhood worthy of that adjective has its spots of whimsy. So too with Old Town.

Old Town, ChicagoOld Town, ChicagoThen there was this charming building, Schmidt Metzgerei. Butcher’s shop, though the it looks like Mitzgerei, except there’s no dot over the first i. (Vince Michael posits that Mitzgerei is an older variant spelling; I couldn’t say).
Schmidt Mitzgerei, Old Town, ChicagoIt stands out now, but probably didn’t when it was new, as a butcher’s shop with dwelling space on the second floor for the butcher and his family. “The mitzgerei, built in the classic German fachwerk style, utilizing heavy timber framing, was established in 1903,” writes Vince Michael. “Today it is the home of the Sullivan Law firm. It is a fine example of the early German immigrant construction that at one time was quite common throughout the Old Town Neighborhood.”

There’s a broader context, of course. The AIA Guide to Chicago tells us that Old Town “was settled by German produce farmers, who were numerous enough to establish St. Michael’s parish in 1852. After the devastation of the Fire of 1871, wooden cottages sprang up to house the homeless. Most of the ‘relief shanties’ are long gone… The area remained heavily German throughout the following decades, and by 1900, North Ave. as far west as Halstead St. was known as German Broadway.”

Pettit Memorial Chapel

Belvidere, town of about 25,000 and seat of Boone County, Ill., is east of Rockford, but not very far, so it’s part of the Rockford MSA. Rather than take the Interstate all the way back from Rockford, we drove on US BUS 20 for a while, then US 20. That route takes you near Belvidere Cemetery, home of the Pettit Memorial Chapel.

Pettit Memorial ChapelThe chapel counts as minor Wright, vintage 1906 (pre-running off with a client’s wife, in other words, and pre-ax murders at Taliesin). The Frank Lloyd Wright Trust says that “the Pettit Memorial Chapel is a small structure on the grounds of Belvidere Cemetery… Emma Glasner Pettit, the sister of William A. Glasner, for whom Wright designed a home Glencoe in 1905, commissioned the chapel in honor of her deceased husband, William H. Pettit.

“The chapel consists of a long narrow porch and an adjoining, rectangular room for memorial services. Raised above ground level, the chapel is accessed via a staircase at the front of the porch, or a set of angled staircases that flank the meeting room at the rear of the porch. Just as he did in his residential designs, Wright included a centrally located fireplace with a broad chimney that emerges from a low-hipped roof.”

We went onto the porch.
Pettit Memorial ChapelThen we went around back. The rectangular room — marked by green window trim — was locked.
Pettit Memorial ChapelThe cemetery looked fairly nice, but we didn’t take any time for a closer look. This is a view from the chapel.
Belvidere CemeteryWe didn’t see William Pettit’s stone. According to the nomination form for the National Register of Historic Places (by an Oak Park architect named Thomas A. Heinz), “Dr. Pettit had the largest practice in northern Iowa, and most of the state mourned his sudden passing in 1899… After proper deliberation as to a suitable memorial, it was decided to build a chapel in Belvidere, his hometown…”

Also in the nomination form: “[The chapel]… is the only structure of its kind in the oevre of [Wright’s] work, the only memorial or cemetery structure ever built.”

The Rockford Art Museum

The Riverfront Museum Campus in Rockford is, true to its name, next to the Rock River in that northern Illinois city, though the entrance to the complex actually faces a parking lot.

Riverfront Museum Campus, RockfordThere are a handful of outdoor sculptures on the campus. Here’s one — “The Juggler,” by David J. Foster (2010) — that would be fun to have in the back yard. Except for maintenance costs and all the unwanted attention it would attract, especially at first.
Riverfront Museum Campus, RockfordThe campus, which opened in the early 1990s, includes the Discovery Center Museum, Northern Public Radio, Rockford Art Museum, Rockford Dance Company and some part of the Rockford Symphony Orchestra, though that group performs at the ornate Coronado Theater. I’m pretty sure that the Discovery Center, which is a children’s museum, hasn’t been there that long, but relocated in more recent years. I remember taking the kids there more than 10 years ago, and while I couldn’t say exactly where we went, it wasn’t near the river.

This time we came to visit the Rockford Art Museum. Its four rooms, two upstairs, two downstairs, maintain a spare aesthetic.
Rockford Museum of Art 2017The museum has some interesting items. That’s all I ask of most museums. Here’s a detail of “Indigo Deux” by Ed Paschke (1988).

Rockford Museum of ArtAnother detail, this one of “Millennium 16/The Launderer” by Steven Hudson (1993).

Rockford Museum of Art

“Condor” by Les Sandelman (1987).
Rockford Museum of ArtAnd “Not Knot #18” by Jackie Kazarian (1991).
Rockford Museum of ArtAll in all, a small but good museum. Worth the relatively short drive to Rockford, as are the Nicholas ConservatoryKlehm Arboretum and Anderson Japanese Gardens.

Before we visited the museum, we ate a tasty lunch at a Vietnamese restaurant in Rockford. We were sitting at a large table in the back because all the smaller tables were full, and some other patrons were sitting at the table as well. One of them, a young woman who introduced herself as Sally, asked whether we’d eaten there before. No, this is our first time. We’re from out of town.

She said she was from Rockford, and seemed a little surprised that anyone would come to town just for a visit. I assured here that we turn up once a year or so, in this case to see the museum. I’m all for visiting large art museums with sprawling collections — be they in Brooklyn or Arkansas or far-off Russia — but smaller art museums are generally worth a look as well. Smaller cities, too.

Maunday Thursday Misc.

A good Easter to all. Back on Easter Monday, which is a holiday in a fair number of countries, so why not here? Or at least something like in Buffalo, which seems to celebrate a thing called Dyngus Day.

The other day I noticed that I’ve nearly made 1,000 postings here. Not quite, but getting there. WordPress helpfully tells me the Top 10 Categories (out of 15, not counting Uncategorized) among all those posts.

Been There (526)
History (227)
Entertainment (160)
Over the Transom (152)
Public Art (105)
Food & Beverage (102)
Weather (100)
Family (83)
Holidays (66)
News (65)

I guess it’s fitting that Been There is first. It’s in the title, after all. Over the Transom is a little tricky: that’s any fool thing that comes my way without any plan, so it covers a lot of ground. Otherwise, I won’t put much stock in the ranking. For instance, I’ve posted more about weather than my family, but that hardly means I care more about the weather than them.

This made me laugh. Jonah Goldberg on the Trump administration: “I feel like I’m watching a Fellini movie without subtitles: I have no idea what’s going on.”

Here are some things young women get up to in Brooklyn. Or did in 2011.

Something to see in Denver. For the colorful art work, of course.

And maybe there is something new under the sun.

The Clan-Na-Gael Guards Monument, Mount Carmel Cemetery

An obscure monument to obscure men fighting for a now-obscure cause. That’s what I found at Mount Carmel Cemetery last week when I spied the Clan-Na-Gael Guards Monument. What a find.

The Clan-Na-Gael Guards Monument, Mount Carmel CemeteryObscure isn’t meant as a pejorative. People besotted with fame might think it’s one, but obscurity is the common fate of almost everyone and everything. Life’s still worth living. In future millennia, we’ll all be as distinctive as grains of sand on a beach. It won’t even take that long. That’s probably as it should be.

Yet we memorialize. In stone sometimes, no doubt since mankind learned to carve. I’m no expert on the psychology of memorials, but I’d guess they’re mostly for those who already remember: family, friends, colleagues, comrades-at-arms, or a public who read the newspaper stories, saw the newsreels, recalled the special bulletin interrupting a radio or TV show. Memorializing for posterity might be given lip service, but that’s all it is.

The front of the Clan-Na-Gael Monument says (in all caps, but that screams):

Erected by the
Clan-Na-Gael Guards
To the memory of their
Departed comrades

The Clan-Na-Gael was, of course, dedicated to Irish independence. Any enemy of the British was a friend of theirs, such as Imperial Germany 100 years ago, though this memorial goes back a little further. I shouldn’t have been surprised to read the side of the memorial, yet I was:

Dedicated to the memory of
Lieut. Michael O’Hara Co. A
Lieut. Thos. Naughton Co. B
Who died in South Africa
While serving in the
Irish Brigade
Of the Boer Army 1900

Irishmen in the Boer War? Yes, indeed. Not just any Irishmen — though I’ve read there were a fair number in South Africa at the time, working in the mines — but Irishmen from Chicago who headed out to Africa for a chance to stick it to the British.

Soon, I came across a digitized version of an anti-British polemic, Boer Fight for Freedom, written in 1902 by Michael Davitt (an associate of Charles Stuart Parnell, and interesting in his own right). In the book, there’s a passage about the Chicago Irish who fought for the Boers:

The CHICAGO IRISH-AMERICAN VOLUNTEERS

This small contingent of volunteers was spoken of in Pretoria as the “finest-looking” body of men that had yet reached the Transvaal capital from abroad. They numbered about forty, excluding the medicos and non-combatants, and were all young men of splendid physique and of the best soldierly qualities.

They were under the command of Captain O’Connor, of the Clan-na-Gael Guards, and joined Blake’s Irish Brigade. President Kruger extended a special reception to the company, and addressed them in complimentary terms before they started for the front.
Lord Roberts was on the point of advancing from Bloemfontein when the Chicago men arrived, and they were hurried forward to Brandfort along with other reenforcements for De la Rey, who was in command until the arrival of Botha.

O’Connor and his men acquitted themselves most creditably in all the rear-guard actions fought from Brandfort to Pretoria; Viljoen’s Band Brigade, Blake’s and O’Connor’s men, with Hassell’s scouts, doing their share of fighting in all the engagements during events and occurrences which were well calculated to damp the enthusiasm of the allies of the Boer cause.

It is, however, under trying circumstances, offering little or no compensation for services or sacrifice, save what comes from the consciousness of a duty well performed, that men are best tested in mind and metal, and the work done during that most disheartening time was worth many a more successful campaign fought under brighter hopes for the cause of liberty.

The Clan-Na-Gael Guards Monument, Mount Carmel CemeteryBut what of the memorial itself? I found digitized information about that, too, in The Reporter, a Chicago-based national trade publication “devoted to the granite and marble monumental trade,” the masthead says (man, Google wants to digitize everything).

The October 1914 edition of the magazine tells us that, “Sunday, September 27th, there was unveiled with due ceremony, in Mt. Carmel cemetery at Hillside (a suburb), a Barre granite monument to the memory of Lieutenants Michael O’Hara and Thomas Naughton, who lost their lives while serving with the Boers against the British in South Africa. They were the only ones killed out about 40 Clan-na-Gael guards who went to the war from Chicago.

“The monument is a shaft with conventional bases, die, plinth and shaft, and was furnished by the Moore Monument Co., the price being about $1,800.”

That was fairly serious money, about $43,800 in 2017 dollars. I don’t doubt that the surviving members of the Clan-na-Gael Guards’ foray to Africa got their money’s worth.

Mount Carmel Cemetery, Hillside

Demographic note: a lot more people reside in Mount Carmel Cemetery in west suburban Hillside, Ill., than in the village itself. The cemetery has about 226,000 permanent residents, while the village has only about 8,100 (living) people. But the advantage goes to the living, of course. For instance, they can vote in Cook County elections; most of the dead people can’t.

I’ve known about Mount Carmel for years, but only got around to visiting last week, on a cool and partly cloudy afternoon. The cemetery is thick with upright stones —

Mount Carmel Cemetery, Hillside ILMount Carmel Cemetery, Hillside IL… funerary art —

Mount Carmel Cemetery, Hillside ILMount Carmel Cemetery, Hillside… and mausoleums. In fact, there are a lot of family mausoleums there, about 400, including these three.
Mount Carmel Cemetery, Hillside ILAt Mount Carmel, one learns that the Lord is a Cubs fan.
Mount Carmel Cemetery, Hillside ILOn a hillock in the middle of the cemetery is the Bishops’ Chapel, or Bishops’ Mausoleum, but in full the Mausoleum and Chapel of the Archbishops of Chicago, complete with Gabriel blowing his horn.
Mount Carmel Cemetery, Hillside IL bishops' mausoleum and chapelInside are the remains of seven bishops, archbishops and auxiliary bishops of Chicago, mostly recently Joseph Cardinal Bernardin, who was entombed in 1996. I remember in the fall of ’96 seeing his funeral procession cross the Michigan Ave. Bridge from an office window in 35 E. Wacker, where I worked. Presumably they were headed for Mount Carmel.

The book Mount Carmel and Queen of Heaven Cemeteries by Jenny Floro-Khalaf and Cynthia Savaglio gives quite a lot of detail about the Bishops’ Mausoleum, which was completed in 1912. The cemetery itself was established with the new-born century in 1901, long before the Eisenhower Expressway ran to its north, and probably when Roosevelt Road to the south — not yet called that, but 12th St. in the city at least — was very rudimentary indeed.

“[The chapel] was the brainchild of Chicago’s second archbishop, James Quigley, who oversaw its construction,” Floro-Khalaf and Savaglio write. “He engaged a local architect, William J. Brickman, who came up with the simple, Romanesque style that embodies the building’s outline. However, in keeping with the aesthetic tastes of his predecessor, Patrick Feehan, Quigley engaged one of the most famous architects of the day, Aristide Leonori, who designed the building’s breathtaking interior… Leonari executed a design reminiscent of Rome in marble and mosaic.”

A locked door was as close as I got to the breathtaking interior, for which I blame wankers who would do harm to it. But over the door, you’re reminded that Quigley built the place.

Many Italian names dot the cemtery’s landscape. Benedetto, Bernardo, DeVito, DiGiovanni, Felicetti, Gazzolo, Genna, Mazzitelli, Salerno, Serritello, Truppa, Perazzo, Porcaro, Porzio, and Viviano were among those I saw, though there was a fair number of Irish names and others mixed in.

One name I didn’t see was Capone. If I’d done any research beforehand, I would have known where to look for Al Capone. The cemetery doesn’t guide visitors to his grave, unlike the signs posted to direct you to the Wright Bros. at the Woodland Cemetery in Dayton or the Hunley crews in Magnolia Cemetery in Charleston. Maybe some other time.

Other mafioso are buried in Mount Carmel, though not as well known as Capone any more. But their stories are no less lurid. Such as Joseph “Hop Toad” Giunta, who ran afoul of Capone in a particularly bloody way, or so the story goes. I didn’t see his grave, either.

Find a Grave says, “He was a high ranking member of the Capone gang who formed a secret alliance with Al Capone enemy Joe Aiello. Giunta planned to kill Capone and take over his operations, and enlisted the help of Capone triggermen John Scalise and Albert Anselmi with the promise of higher positions when Giunta was in power.

“Capone found out about the plan and invited Giunta, Scalise and Anselmi to a dinner party. During dinner Capone brought out an Indian club he’d received as a gift and proceeded to beat the three men to near death. Capone then allegedly finished the job with gunshots…”

Eda Wade’s Malcolm X College Doors

After leaving the Aon Center, but before leaving downtown last week, I popped over to the Chicago Cultural Center on Michigan Ave., originally completed in 1895 as Chicago’s main public library.
Chicago Cultural CenterIt’s a fine old repurposed building. Whenever I have a few moments and I’m in the area, I like to go in. For the striking staircase at the south entrance, for one thing. Or the building’s splendid GAR Memorial Hall.

The Cultural Center also features a changing assortment of art exhibits. By chance this time I happened across the murals of Eugene “Eda” Wade, which he painted on the steel doors at Malcolm X College, one of the City Colleges of Chicago, from 1971 to ’73.

According to the exhibit, “the inner-staircase door murals at the former Malcolm X College are one of the hidden gems of the Black Arts movement in Chicago, and a remarkable public-art achievement that went largely unnoticed at the time — except to the college’s students, faculty, staff and administrators.

“The 32 double-sided sets of 10′ x 4′ steel doorways were pained by artist-in-residence Eugene “Eda” Wade… At the behest of Malcolm X College president Dr. Charles G. Hurst Jr., campus projects coordinator Rosa C. Moore invited Eda, later a longtime art professor at Kennedy-King College, to paint the institution’s doors ‘so they wouldn’t look like solid black prison doors.’ ”

Solid black, not at all. More doors should be this interesting.

Eda Wade door

Eda Wade doorEda Wade doorEda Wade door“Along with images that related to department floors (architecture/engineering, sports/athletics, etc.), jazz, and militancy, many of the murals depict the links between ancestral heritage — expressed through ancient Egyptian and West African figures — and an urban present…”

As I was looking at the doors, I wondered, why are they here? Why aren’t they at Malcolm X College still? Then I read a little closer, and found out that the 1968 Miesian building at 1900 W. Van Buren St., long visible from the Eisenhower Expressway, was demolished last year, replaced by a spanking new building nearby. Somehow I missed hearing about that. Glad the doors were saved.

More about them is posted by the indefatigable Jyoti Srivastava at Public Art in Chicago.

Views from Aon

Recently I attended an event at the Mid-America Club, which happens to be on the 80th floor of the Aon Center, formerly known as the Amoco Building, and if you go back far enough, the Standard Oil Building (for some time after ’73, when it was completed). At 83 floors and 1,136 ft., it’s the third tallest building in Chicago, but that makes it only the 52nd tallest in the world in our time, when China and the UAE have decided that really tall buildings are just fab.

Aon Center 2017

Getting to the 80th floor, I encountered an elevator system I’d never experienced before. There are touchpads at each elevator bank, and you press the number of the floor you want to go to. Then the machine tells you which of the elevator cabs to board to go express to that floor. There are standard elevator buttons inside the cab, but they’ve been covered over by a hard plastic case and are inaccessible. Guess this makes inter-floor transit more efficient. For all I know, this kind of system could be common and not exactly new; I don’t go into that many very tall buildings any more.

I’d been up to the Mid-America Club before, though I couldn’t remember exactly when. Probably as long ago as the early 2000s. It offers a mighty 360-degree view, though this time around it was obscured some by overcast skies.

This is looking west, down at the top of the Prudential Center. Pru II, vintage 1990, has the pointy spire, maybe for zeppelin mooring. Pru I, vintage 1955, is the shorter structure immediately to Pru II’s left, though it was the tallest building in Chicago when new.
Prudential Center II Chicago spireUp and to the right, and on the river, with the cupola on top, is 35 E. Wacker, a handsome ’20s building in which I had an office for a few years.

Also seen from this vantage is 150 N. Michigan. Years ago, I ventured onto the exterior of that building, at a place marked by the red oval. It’s a lot safer than it looks like here.

150 N. Michigan Ave.

To the northeast, the entirety of Navy Pier, with part of Chicago’s massive Jardine Water Purification Plant behind it. Largest in the world by volume, I’ve read: nearly one billion gallons of water goes through per day.
Navy Pier from aboveOne of the pictures posted here is shot from Navy Pier, looking back in the direction of the Aon Center (and a lot of other buildings).

To the north, a large chunk of downtown off in the distance: North Michigan Ave. and Streeterville.
North Michigan Ave and StreetervilleTo the south, and looking nearly straight down, is Pritzker Pavilion. As seen from ground level in this posting.
Pritzker PavillionThe ribbon snaking off to the left is a pedestrian bridge. Officially, the BP Bridge, one of the projects funded by the oil company before its really big sponsorship of a hole in the Gulf of Mexico. Frank Gehry, who did the Gehry-like bandshell, did the bridge too.

Finally, the Bean, or “Cloud Gate.”
The Bean from the airFrom this vantage, looking like a bead of quicksilver surrounded by ants.