When you think of visiting Chicago, what are on your list of must-do and see sights? You might think of our diverse food scene – restaurants achieving international accolades – to our sports teams from the Bulls to Cubs to Sox to Blackhawks – to the “Magnificent Mile of Shopping” on Michigan Avenue. But what you may not have thought of is the breathtaking architecture that is Chicago.
As locals, we rarely see our city for all its glory as we are just going about our day-to-day life. So, for the first time, my friends, family and I boarded the Shoreline Architecture River Tour to see the city from a new perspective. We became tourists in our own city!
You have two choices on where you want to pick up the boat – Navy Pier or Pioneer Court which is on Michigan Avenue and the river. We boarded at Michigan Avenue purchasing our Architecture River tickets there – note that Shoreline offers a Classic Lake Tour as well. There are day and night tours and even the opportunity to watch the fireworks from the boat.
We could not have picked a better weather day as the sun was shining and the temperature was ideal. We got comfortable in our seats on the top level of the boat knowing that additional seating, bar and restrooms were one floor below. Our tour guide, James, began his introduction to what we will be seeing on the 75 minute tour along the Chicago River.
We learned about the different styles of architecture (Beaux Arts, Art Deco, Modernism, etc) throughout the city, how they are integrated into the design elements of each structure we passed by, the impact that the Great Fire of 1871 had on the city and new building designs going forward and the architects themselves and their goals when creating a new building.
We saw residential buildings that were designed to be all-inclusive– a “city within a city” – that had restaurants, movie theaters, boat docks and parking.
James shared that there are 37 movable bridges (with one retired) that we saw on our cruise.
We talked about how many of the buildings we saw were used in the movies from Batman to The Negotiator to Transformers and so many more films you would be familiar with.
James explained how the Nuveen building on Wacker Drive had both blue and green glass to reflect the sky and the water and was curved to the design of the street.
We learned about the old Chicago Post Office built in 1921 and how it’s enormous size was to support Chicago’s title of the mail order capital of the world. (Thanks Sears catalog!) Then, how for efficiency purposes, a new post office had to be built in 1996.
Do you know the significance of the markings on the flag of Chicago? That the white and blue stripes and stars each had their own meaning:
White stripes: Areas of the city – North, South and West sides
Blue stripes: bodies of water – Chicago river and Lake Michigan
4 Stars: Historical events – Fort Dearborn, Chicago Fire, Columbia Exposition, Century of Progress
Our tour continued on towards Lake Michigan coming along side Navy Pier and all the fun activities that go on there.
We then returned to dock alongside Michigan Avenue, ending what was one of the most fascinating tours we have been on in a long time. Personally, I can totally see myself on another Shoreline Architectural River Tour as I want to understand more of Chicago’s history and be reminded of what we learned on the first cruise.
This beautiful city has so much to offer from an architectural perspective. Come and take a tour letting Shoreline Sightseeing introduce you to the history and elegance of Chicago’s architecture.
For more information on Shoreline Sightseeing Tours and to buy tickets, please visit here.
Thanks for stopping by!