The picture above is from a 1930s map of Chicago, a town that toddles. I have never seen anyone toddle.I don’t know what toddling really looks like, but you have to take their word for it. Toddling has happened in sufficient quantities that the town’s reputation is one that encompasses, or has encompassed, so much toddling.
It was a weekend trip for a wedding of a nephew, and great things were seen and done. But we just got back, and I have a column to do, so today you’re going to get pictures and little else. (Aside from matchbooks.) Let’s start with the view from the hotel window.
This is worth paying for. And we did. The oohing and aahhing was overshadowed by the chattering of teeth, since the room was 62 degrees and the fan was loud and we couldn’t turn on the heat. It’s an older property, and holds to the idea that the interior of a hotel should be an atrium fit for a movie set in a future where everyone wears one-piece jumpsuits.
The view from the bar was the marvelous Merchandise Mart, an enormous structure built just in time for the economy to collapse.
We went to the Art Museum, because daughter wanted to see Magritte. I had the standard shot of me standing by an old friend - and the museum is full of old friends.
Daughter took this shot, and the framing was intentional.
I am rarely seen in any family photos, but there's a whole series of me looking content while standing next to Mondrians.
The Magritte she sought we could not find, but found two others, and so all was good. I found this painting delightful -
The museum's card:
John Sloan often explored the leisure activities of working-class women and the changing social mores of the 20th century. Here he focused on three women who sit together at the central table of a popular Italian restaurant in New York City. By showing the women celebrating a night out on the town, the artist emphasized their newfound freedom to socialize in public spaces without the need for male escorts. Although he indicated their working-class status through their “unladylike” gestures—legs wrapped around their chairs and pinkies flared in the air—Sloan did not cast judgment on the women’s relaxed behavior. His informal style and loose brushwork enliven this scene of urban leisure with a sense of immediacy and action.
Larger version here. The restaurant was Renganeschi's, and more about it - including the menus! - can be found here.
The real treat was a boat tour of Chicago architecture. It’s been years since I was in the city, and I’ve never seen the place from this angle. It was cleaner than I remember, more prosperous, with some extraordinary new buildings rising all around. But the old classics are still the most beautiful; they don’t make them like this any more. They don’t want to. They probably can’t, but on the other hand . . .
. . . the modern city provides some remarkable abstract views.
I am no great fan of the Corncob's architect, but this one is good. The rest of his stuff has a dreary feel of a faded concrete future. On the other hand, innumerable iterations of Miesian grid-faced tower blocks don't do a city any favors.
Marina City works well because there's two of them. If a building is bad - and this one isn't - it's better if there are two, and they're huge. An odd law but I believe it.
Another thing of which I am not a great fan: the mirrored glass of the 70s and early 80s. But done right, in the proper spot, there is beauty:
I ended up having an argument with the tour guide afterwards - a genial but spirited discussion about how the term “Art Deco” is now applied to Moderne without any explanation or footnotes, as if a decorative style described the massing of buildings and stylized ornamentation that really wasn’t Art Deco. She almost wanted to agree, but they had done research, and there had been seminars and conferences, and that’s what it was going to be. The term was set in stone now. It’s all Art Deco.
One last shot:
See those circular structures on the broad old building? We got up there. But that's tomorrow.