The Jain Society of Metropolitan Chicago

The BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, mentioned yesterday, is on route Illinois 59 in Bartlett. As I was preparing for my visit, looking at Google Maps, I noticed something else similiarly interesting just a few miles to the north, also on Illinois 59 in Bartlett: the Jain Society of Metropolitan Chicago. A Jain temple, in other words.

This too had escaped my notice all the years I’ve lived in the northwest suburbs. I figured if I were going to be out in Bartlett to see the monumental mandir, I might as well drop by to see what the Jains have built. So I did.

Jain Society of Metropolitan ChicagoThe Jain temple, next to a large parking lot on an even larger bit of land, isn’t as massive as the BAPS structure, but it’s pleasing to the eye, and made all the more interesting because it’s such a rare thing here in North America. That despite what Wiki asserts: “The most significant time of Jain immigration was in the early 1970s. The United States has since become a center of the Jain diaspora [citation needed].” This particular temple was built in the early 1990s.
The Jain Society of Metropolitan ChicagoThe temple interior is essentially a single room with rows of eye-level effigies along the walls, and some other ornamentation. It all reminded me how little I remembered about Jainism.

I studied Jainism briefly — a class or two — in Survey of Eastern Religions, as taught by the highly learned Charles Hambrick, but that was 35 years ago (a professor emeritus these days, but last I checked still with us). Mainly I remember the strong emphasis on pacifism, which often has the unfortunate side effect of inspiring nearby and less pacific people to acts of persecution. If indeed the Jain diaspora is focused in this country, I hope they’re doing well.

BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir Chicago

BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, a monumental Hindu temple on 27 acres in suburban Bartlett, Ill., is less than 10 miles from where I’ve lived for most of the 21st century so far. How is it that I never knew about it until a few weeks ago? You imagine that you know your part of the world pretty well, but it’s just a conceit.

BAPS, incidentally, stands for Bochasanwasi Akshar Purushottam Sanstha, so the full name of the site would be the Bochasanwasi Akshar Purushottam Sanstha Shri Swaminarayan Mandir Chicago. I can see why it’s abbreviated. I can’t pretend to know how the group that built the temple fits into the galaxy of Hinduism, though I’ve read that it’s a relatively modern movement, originating in Gujarat state. I wouldn’t mind knowing more, but whatever knowledge I take away from reading about the details of Hinduism tends to evaporate in a short time, sorry to say.

The suburban Chicago temple is just one of a half-dozen such in North America. The others are in metro Atlanta, Houston, LA, and Toronto, and in central New Jersey. Judging by their pictures, each is about as monumental as the metro Chicago temple, though Chicago’s supposed to be the largest. In fact, it’s the largest Hindu temple in North America, at least according to one source. Even if that’s not so important, the place does impress with its size.

On a sunny but not exactly warm day recently, I drove to the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir for a look. The structure, finished only in 2004, is stunning.
BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir ChicagoBAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir ChicagoThe exterior is limestone, the interior marble and granite. The temple’s web site has a sketch of the structure’s creation, which I’ve edited a bit.

The Carrara marble was quarried in Italy and the limestone was quarried in Turkey.
From there it was shipped to Kandla in western India.

The material was then transported to Rajasthan, where it was hand-carved by more than 3,000 craftsman over a period of 22 months.

The finished pieces were then shipped to a final location for polishing, packaging and numbering before being shipped back to the port in Kandla.

It took two months for a container ship to journey from India to the US.

Upon reaching Virginia, the containers were put on a train to Chicago and then transported to the project site.

Upon arrival at the site, the stones were grouped and classified based on a detailed database of each piece.

The pieces were then assembled together like a massive, three- dimensional jigsaw puzzle.

The finished products of rich carvings are a testimony to the exquisite skills of craftsmen, aided by superb logistics and engineering.

I’ll go along with that last sentence. Even though I didn’t understand the details of what I was looking at, I admire the artistic and engineering skill it must have taken to create the thing.

BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir ChicagoBAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir ChicagoBAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir Chicago

BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir Chicago

Next to the mandir is the haveli, a fine building in its own right, featuring some exceptionally intricate wood carving. It serves a number of functions. For my purposes, it included a visitors center, gift shop (with a few postcards) and the entrance to the mandir, which is open to the public.

BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir ChicagoBAPS Shri Swaminarayan Haveli ChicagoThe mandir is accessible via an underground tunnel from the haveli. Exhibits about Hinduism line the wall of the tunnel. The inside of the mandir, marbled and quiet, is an astonishing forest of carved columns and sculpted walls. No photography allowed, but of course pictures do exist.

I might not ever make to India. Can’t go everywhere. Fortunately, a striking piece of India is within easy driving distance.

Nathan Manilow Sculpture Park ’17

On Saturday we visited Governors State University in exurban Chicago — way down south in the Will County burg of University Park, Ill. — for a look at its expansive sculpture park, which mostly features large-scale metal works. Its formal name is the Nathan Manilow Sculpture Park. I visited the place in 2002 and posted about some years later.

“Formally established by the Governors State University Board of Trustees in 1978, the Nathan Manilow Sculpture Park was named for Nathan Manilow, a visionary developer who, along with Carrol Sweet and Philip Klutznick, formed American Community Builders at the conclusion of World War II,” says the GSU web site. “They planned and built the neighboring Village of Park Forest for returning GIs. The history of the Nathan Manilow Sculpture Park predates GSU in that sculptor Mark diSuvero spent the summers of 1968 and 1969 living and building sculpture on the land that was to become the university.

“1968-69 – Lewis Manilow, son of Nathan Manilow, loans the use of a house on the future campus of GSU to sculptor Mark diSuvero. DiSuvero spends two summers creating sculpture. His presence attracts other artists: John Chamberlain, Richard Hunt, John Henry, Charles Ginnever and Jerry Peart, among others, to the area. DiSuvero creates at least three sculptures: ‘Yes! for Lady Day,’ ‘Prairie Chimes’ and ‘The Mohican.’ ”

After nearly 15 years, I figured it was time to go again. Turns out that sculptures have been added since then. Many of those we saw had not only been added since then, but created since then. Such as “Windwaves” by Yvonne Domenge from 2010.

"Windwaves" by Yvonne Domenge“Oscar’s Inclination” by Michael Dunbar dates from 2004.

"Oscar's Inclination" by Michael Dunbar "Oscar's Inclination" by Michael Dunbar

Beyond “Oscar’s Inclination” was “Falling Meteor” by Jerry Peart, which I’m pretty such was here in 2002. It was created in 1975.
"Falling Meteor" by Jerry PeartThis was one of the smaller works that we saw, “Meeting Ends” by Chakaia Booker, from 2005.
"Meeting Ends" by Chakaia BookerMade of rubber tires and stainless steel. An artwork for us, but also a nesting site for birds.
"Meeting Ends" by Chakaia BookerGSU has a lot of land: 750 acres, which is plenty of room to keep large metal sculptures. Beyond the pieces that are near the school’s buildings, you need to walk along mowed pathways, sometimes soggy considering the recent rains, to see other works.
Governors State UniversityA couple of favorites from last time: “Phoenix” by Edvins Strautmanis, one of the vintage 1968 works, and off in the background, “Flying Saucer” by Jene Highstein, 1977. “Phoenix” looks like it’s been refurbished.
"Phoenix" by Edvins StrautmanisAnd “Icarus” by Charles Ginnever, another early one: 1975.

"Icarus" by Charles GinneverThe director and curator of the park in recent years has been Geoffrey Bates, who just retired. More about him and the park is here.

The London House Hotel & The Tower on Top

When I took pictures from high up in the Aon Center, I didn’t know that a few weeks later, I’d be on top of another nearby building. Not as tall, but with also with a terrific view of Chicago. And one (formerly) associated with an insurance company: The London Guarantee & Accident Building, 360 N. Michigan Ave., vintage 1923.

Chicago architect Alfred S. Alschuler designed the Beaux Arts tower for the U.S. branch of a British insuror, and since last year it has been occupied by the London House Hotel. I didn’t know that, probably because I don’t keep track of the Chicago real estate market in detail right now. I still think of it as an office building that was home to Crain’s Chicago Business for a time, and which also used to count the Turkish Consulate as a tenant. Once upon a time, Armenian sympathizers would periodically protest on the sidewalk outside.

There’s a tower on the top of London House, marked with a circle.

Chicago from Aon Center 2017Up close, it looks like this.
London House Chicago cupola 2017The tower is supposedly modeled after the Choragic Monument in Athens. I’m not expert enough to know, but there are visual similarities at least.

The London Guarantee & Accident Building was on the Chicago Architecture Foundation’s Hotel Boom tour, and it was the only property we explored beyond the exterior and the lobby, though those parts are interesting too.
London House Hotel Chicago 2017This is the ceiling inside the Michigan Ave. entrance.
London House Hotel Chicago 2017The docent said that it was original to the building, but had been uncoveraged fairly recently. At some point probably in the 1950s or ’60s, it had been Eisenhowered by a lower ceiling.

From there we looked around the lobby, and then took an elevator to the 21st floor, which is occupied by a bar. On a spring Saturday afternoon, the place was packed. Then, another elevator takes you up to two levels of outdoor terraces. One of which has tables and chains and (on a warm day) people with their drinks.

London House Hotel Chicago rooftop 2017

The views are exceptional. Looking west down the Chicago River.
London House Hotel Chicago rooftop 2017North up Rush St. The building with the clock tower is, of course, the Wrigley Building.
London House Hotel Chicago rooftop 2017Stairs from this level lead up to the Choragic Monument-ish tower, which offers some views of its own. Looking to the east, you get a good view of the upper reaches of 333 N. Michigan Ave., another building of the 1920s.
333 N. Michigan Ave ChicagoI was intrigued by the busts way up.

333 N. Michigan Ave ChicagoWho is supposed to see them? Angels? Even from inside the building, it looks like they would be hard to see. A modern example of painting the back of the statues in a cathedral niche.

About 333 N. Michgan and environs, Blair Kaimen wrote: “Its designers, Chicago architects Holabird & Root, drew heavily from Finnish architect Eliel Saarinen’s influential second-prize entry in the 1922 Tribune Tower design competition. Continuous vertical lines and gentle setbacks mount to a top without a cornice or cupola. The building superbly takes advantage of a bend in North Michigan Avenue to dominate the view as you look southward.

“Together, 333 and 360 join with the neo-Gothic Tribune Tower and the eclectic Wrigley Building to form an extraordinary quartet of 1920s skyscrapers that frame a great urban space around the Michigan Avenue Bridge.”

Model Chicago

Most Chicago Architectural Foundation tours begin at 224 S. Michigan Ave., where the foundation is located and which is also known as the Santa Fe Center or, originally, the Railway Exchange Building. It’s a handsome structure by Daniel Burnham, dating from 1904.

“A building around a light well, a form common to Daniel H. Burnham’s work from the mid-1880s onward, received an undulating white-glazed terra-cotta skin, oriel bays, and a top floor of distinctive porthole windows,” notes the AIA Guide to Chicago. “As in the Rookery, there is a two-story covered court at the base of the light well dominated by a grand staircase.”

The view from near the grand staircase.
Railway Exchange BuildingNote the model of Chicago taking up much of the floor. At 25 by 35 feet, it’s an exact model of every building in more than four square miles of the city, or more than 1,000 of them. The obviously skilled Columbian Model & Exhibit Works created it for the Chicago Architectural Foundation in the late 2000s.

The Tribune reported in 2009 that the “model buildings came from Columbian’s workshop. The exhibit is broken down into 400 city blocks, in squares the size of dinner plates carried in food caterer’s serving carts. With the buildings already glued in place, the blocks were placed into the exhibit like waiters carefully placing food plates into a buffet table.

“[Foundation VP Gregory] Dreicer said the first step in the process was creating a digitized three-dimensional computer model of the city that could be manipulated on a screen. The designers did it using architectural drawings or drawings purchased from commercial firms that collect such information.

“To make each building, they went to firms that use the three-dimensional printing process called stereolithography, used to make design prototypes of various products like plastic containers for food, cleaning or pharmaceutical products.”

Wow. That’s impressive. And right there, for anyone to walk in and see, no charge. It’s not a static display, either. I’ve read that the CAF updates it periodically, as buildings come and go in Chicago.

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.

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 are cities, too.

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.