Despite temps in the low 30s and that chill wind off the lake that Chicago is famous for, I went cruising on the Chicago River. Yes, it was cold. And, yes, it was worth it, both because I learned more about Chicago and because you see things from the water that you’d miss just walking the boulevards and back streets (which I did a lot).
It was a perfect day for taking photos, as you can see. That’s the Willis Tower dominating the skyline and making most of the other buildings look like baby skyscrapers.
And, yes, that is a four-masted schooner anchored next to a super-glassy building under construction. Chicago, like most big cities, is a fascinating study in contrasts.
The mix of architectural styles in this next photo makes it one of my favorites from the trip. Chicago really is a treat for the eye and I never got tired of looking up and around, whether I was on a boat, a bus, or walking on my own two feet. After years of mostly being around deserts and trees, being in a big city again was exciting and energizing.
Seeing a city from the water, at least in the 21st century, is one way to see changes you might not notice any other way. This is prime waterfront real estate, available, as the sign says. Across the river at this spot, two old industrial buildings have alread been converted into living and working spaces, so maybe this one will get a 21st century conversion, too. The shiny new Chicago Tribune printing plant is right across the street, also right along the river, but it’s really a brutal view from the water (you can see it on Google Maps).
Another abandoned warehouse, this on the south branch of the river, across from Chinatown. I wonder if it will become chic live/work lofts in another 3-5 years. Maybe…
The tour went right by one of my most favorite buildings in Chicago, the St. Regis, so I got to really enjoy the architecture, all 101 stories of it. Fun fact, this is the tallest building in the world designed by a woman (Jeanne Gang). I just love the way the exterior forms fit together and yet each section stands apart. And the fact that it’s blue and glass makes it even more cool to me.
The tour goes east to the lock out to Lake Michigan and then turns around for home. That turn, short and fast, provides a quick opportunity for a skyline shot featuring the St. Regis and the river.
Yes, I would recommend the boat tour, although perhaps not in January! It’s an interesting way to see Chicago from a different perspective and appreciate the city even more.
10 thoughts on “Chicago: On the River”
Beautiful pictures, great memories. Our son went to college in Chicago, then stayed for a few years, so we had many opportunities to explore. We kayaked the Chicago River, saw it turn green one St. Pattys day. Made it out to Frank Lloyd Wrights in the burbs and at UChicago. We’ll have to make it back someday.. without the Alto.
Oh, paddling there would be fantastic! And someday I’ll get to the FLW place.
Brings back memories. Love the schooner!
I would’ve never known it was so cold on the day you did the cruise, as it looks like a perfect summer day. As always, your photos are fabulous and make me want to book a trip to Chicago soon! Have a great week, Annie.
I’d highly recommend it, and with the right clothes, January was pretty uncrowded and it was easy to get around the museums.
Great views and thoughts. Thanks for including the Google link for the view of the Chicago Times building. Brutalism for sure! Love the beautiful curves of the St. Regis. I’ve never been a tourist in Chicago. It needs to go on my list.
I didn’t know there was a river tour…that is absolutely wonderful! You have some iconic images here, love the wavy glass building..though it sort of made me feel seasick…
I’m thinking of doing some travel. A previous neighbor liked Chicago a lot, so my ears perked up and I read this post with interest. What did you particularly like about the place? Did you stay in your trailer, or find other accommodations? Any things I should particularly see or avoid?
I actually split an airbnb with our old captain, Peg! It was close to bus lines and Michigan Avenue (the main north-south street). It’s a very walkable downtown area as well. We got passes to use the bus and rail system, and that worked out well, the buses are well-organized and google maps shows the “from here to there” info really well. I’d recommend museums and perhaps the planetarium, which I had seen before so I didn’t get there this time around. Oh, and a taping of Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me, which was a really fun way to spend a Thursday evening in town!