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October 4, 2008

I (heart) Chicago



I have now totally embraced the Zen of the El, putting aside my innate distrust of anything unfamiliar until it gets familiar. I love the el now. The trick is to move from thinking rapid transit means, you know, rapid transit and actually caring how quickly you get somewhere (beginning vacation mode) to living in the present moment and not thinking about the when so much (mid-vacation mode).

Yesterday was warm by Chicago standards, by which I mean it was 52 degrees with a brisk wind, so I decided to take the architectural cruise on the Chicago River. ... 

Why didn't you tell me it was so good? Ask me anything about the Chicago school of architecture, post-modernism, art deco, or how to make a river flow backwards.

My favorite quote was from architect Bertrand Goldberg, who according to our tour guide said that the rectangle creates a psychological slum. However, his non-rectangular buildings, which look like giant corn cobs (food reference), are pretty ugly. 


















(photos by me) 

Posted by Elizabeth Large at 5:30 AM | | Comments (10)


There is a mind set necessary for public transportation. And calling it "rapid", at least in the US, has got to be a violation of the truth in advertising laws (if they haven't been gutten by the current administration, too).

I've always liked the El, but I like taking public transportation when I travel. It means I will get from point A to point D, and if I get confused, there are people right there to ask.

Driving a rental car in an unfamiliar city, on the other hand, is an expensive nightmare.

I've got to go on that archetectural tour the next time I'm in Chicago. I though archetecture was boring until I went on an archetectural walking tour of Baltimore last fall.

EL... but aren't the parking lots under the round buildings great?

I LOVED the boat tour... aside from the wedding we went to out there, it was the highlight of the trip!

Yes, they were great. EL

OK EL and/or need to explain to us (or those of us who don't know what you're talking about) what makes said parking lots "great"?

What differentiates them from the standard parking lots?

For me it's just a visual thing. From the cruise you can see that the bottom few layers of "petals" (or corn kernels) are actually where cars are parked. Above them are condo rooms. Maybe you have to be there. EL

Why didn't you tell me it was so good?

Umm...we did, didn't we?

I love architecture, thought about it as a profession, but didn't take the idea too far. Chicago is one of my favorite cities, just because of all the great buildings...

I learned to love architecture from my father, who took me on a couple of business trips to NYC when I was a kid. When he died I inherited about 200 of his books on the subject, some focused on individual cities, others on style. I still use Learning from Las Vegas when I consult around long range planning processes.

I love to get up around 6 AM when I am traveling to walk around a city as it gets going for the day. It never ceases to amaze me how different places are. In St. Louis two weeks ago (where we stayed and met at the Crowne Plaza in the famous Mansion House -- and early example of an urban redevelopment project), the streets were absolutely empty until almost 8 AM, and then everyone showed up. At the end of the day, the streets were dead again (and all the retail closed) by 6 PM. Very different from Chicago or New York.

MD Canon wrote: "I still use Learning from Las Vegas when I consult around long range planning processes."

Is that in a positive or negative sense? Like saying no man is a complete failure - he can always be used as a bad example.

Though I do not indulge most of the behaviors that Vegas is famous for, from a planning perspective the place is wildly successful. Learning from Las Vegas, written as the result of a project at the Yale School of Architecture and still in print over 30 years later, documented the horrid sprawl that infected the Strip during the 1960's as a result of car culture. In 30 years that has been converted to a pedestrian culture -- a pretty neat trick given the drift of American habits over the same time frame.

Almost completely OT, the 16 y.o. and I watched What Happens In Vegas on pay per view the other night. If you aren't looking for actual cinema, just a funny movie with lots of laughs I highly reccomend it! So, my sort of On Topic comment is that while watching it, my son and I decided that we'd both very much like to stay in that Pyramid hotel some time! BTW, I don't think I would have thought this movie was funny at a theatre where I was spending $25 or more for the 2 of us, but for 4.99 for a one time view, well, you get the picture!

Well, I haven't been to Vegas in about four years. Then, it was a pedestrian culture because there was so much traffic you couldn't drive anywhere up or down The Strip. I like to walk, so it was good for me, but my DW, who needs a cane for walking due to back and balance problems, was not as happy. The big monorail was off at the time, so we took the trolley buses a lot.

Joyce W., the most interesting thing about the Luxor (the pyramid) are the elevators, which do go up at an angle. You had to show your room card just to get near them.

Pretty nice place you've got here. Thanx for it. I like such themes and anything that is connected to them. I would like to read a bit more soon.

Hilary Simpson
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About this blog
Richard Gorelick was appointed The Baltimore Sun's restaurant critic in September 2010. Before joining the paper staff fulltime, he contributed freelance criticism and features articles about food to area and regional publications. Along the way, he dispatched for short-distance trucking companies, shilled for cultural non-profits, and assisted in cognitive neurology research – never the subject, always the control.

He takes restaurants seriously but not himself, and his favorite restaurant is the one you love, too.

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