Category Archives: Travel Photography

Chicago’s Victorian Heritage

Chicago is a virtual museum of Victorian-era structures.  Sure, an enormous number of buildings were destroyed in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, but those were in the downtown and near north area. If you explore Old Town and parts of Lincoln Park today you will discover a treasure trove of Victorian houses and commercial buildings. This just adds to the reputation of Chicago as one of the world’s finest cities for architectural excellence.

Fulton Street Market

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For the past dozen years, Randolph Street just west of the Loop became the de facto Restaurant Row, fueled by Oprah’s Harpo Studio, the United Center, and a boom in residential development.  Now that expansion is exploding onto the nearby Fulton Street Market area making awkward neighbors of the upscale restaurants and the historic meat packing plants and produce markets.  With the advent of new restaurants and galleries, rents are rising and the meat and produce companies are feeling the pinch.  They provide so much of the character that brought the new tenants to the area in the first place, it would be a shame to have them chased from the neighborhood.  Adding to this mix is the soon-to-be-completed Google headquarters and the showplace Morgan Street transit station; growth is inevitable and change is in the air.

ShamROCK Chicago Going Green

State Street going greenPritzker Pavilion in Millennium ParkHotel InterContinental and Wrigley BuildingTrump International Hotel Chicago Board of Trade Willis Tower and Chicago River and Hancock BuildingState Street and the Chicago TheatreChicago Hilton and TowersGreening of the Chicago River Greening of the Chicago River Hotel InterContinental Chicago Old St Patrick's Church 311 Wacker and Willis TowerOld St Patrick's Church Soldier Field Cadillac Palace Theatre

In the week leading up to St. Patrick’s Day, about two dozen Chicago buildings and icons were illuminated green to showcase Chicago’s Irish pride.  This Global GREENing project (locally called ShamROCK Chicago) also saw famous landmarks around the world also lit green, such as the Sydney Opera House and the Eiffel Tower.  I was commissioned by Tourism Ireland to document all the local buildings glowing green; an amazing project except that the Chicago winter was cruel that week and my fingers were turning green from frostbite. That might be a lot of Blarney, but these photos are colorful evidence that Chicago is the most Irish city this side of Dublin.

Chicago’s Athena Greek Restaurant

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Located in Chicago’s Greektown, Athena has been serving tasty Greek food (“cuisine” might be too extreme) for 17 years. The enclosed patio is one of the biggest attractions, offering a bright and cozy environment in the dead of winter, or a cool respite on those hot summer days, all with a view of Chicago’s skyline.  I had the pleasure of photographing Athena recently, and it offered such a nice range of photo possibilities from the warm interior, the colorful central bar, to the cocktails and delicious Greek dishes. The fried calamari will blow you away–best I’ve ever tasted.  OPAH !!!

 

Chicago Auto Show

Earlier this month, more than one million people came to McCormick Place to visit the world’s largest indoor parking lot, often referred to as the Chicago Auto Show.  For the auto aficionado, this was a once-a-year opportunity to touch the cars you only dream about: Ford, Chevy, Honda, Kia, and even Hyundai.  And those lucky few willing to wait in long lines had the heart-stirring experience of sitting in the front seat and looking out the same windshield that people who actually own these cars will look through.  This is heady stuff.  But the show appealed to the mind and not just the passions of the attendees–vital information could be gleaned from the knowledgeable staff at the show: Does the F-150 come in diesel?  How many cup holders in a Mini-Cooper?  Are floor mats here to stay?  With hundreds of cars buffed to a blinding patina, and the entire convention floor reeking of that “new car smell”, this was the ultimate in Auto Erotica. For me, the highlight was seeing a 1969 black GTO, that sexy muscle car that Gregg and I took across country in the ultimate road trip which became the basis of my book “On the Road”.

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University of Chicago

Gothic architecture at the University of Chicago, Hyde ParkUniversity of Chicago in autumnUniversity of Chicago in springUniversity of Chicago, autumn. Laboratory SchoolBucolic scene at the Univ of Chicago Chicago Booth, graduate school of business at University of ChicagoHarper Library at Univ of ChicagoMansueto Library Rockefeller Chapel on campusUniv of Chicago Rockefeller Chapel  University of Chicago, autumn.Midway Plaisance in springBella Voce a cappella early music group at Rockefeller Chapel Univ of Chicago is famous for its gargoylesStudent dorm at the University of ChicagoRatner Athletic Center designed by Cesar PelliSpring blooms amid the Gothic architecture

I am fortunate to live just a few blocks from one of the world’s great universities.  Students lovingly describe this institution of higher learning as the place where “fun comes to die”.  Personally, I think they make this proclamation to mislead their parents so they can justify the $40,000 per year expense. Nestled in the leafy neighborhood of Hyde Park–home of Barack Obama and the first A-Bomb–the university is a mix of Gothic and modern architecture. There are more Nobel Prize winners here than neighborhood bars–how many large universities can make that claim?  In fact U of C has the most Nobel winners of any school in the world.  The university offers a never-ending subject for my photography as new buildings appear on a regular basis, and each season brings new discoveries.

Chicago Neighborhood Murals

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Chicago is known as a city of neighborhoods, each with it’s own ethnic identity.  It’s no surprise  that public art appears on walls throughout the city representing the local culture.  Here is just a sampling of murals (or you may call it graffiti) in some of Chicago’s vibrant neighborhoods.

Chicago Christkindlmarket, a Holiday Tradition

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For those who rarely venture into the Loop during the holiday season, these photos are for you.  Since 1997, the city has been sponsoring Christkindlmarket in Daley Plaza.  This outdoor market which features German crafts, jewelry, clothing, toys and lots of food attracts over a half million people from Thanksgiving to Christmas Eve.  Inspired by the Christkindlesmarkt in Nuremberg, Germany, which began in 1545, the Chicago version stays true to its European roots.  In fact, most of the vendors actually travel from Germany to work the booths, or at least are German-speaking.  Appropriate winter food is also available, including wurst, sauerkraut, potato pancakes, lots of pastries, and German beer and traditional “Glühwein”, a hot spiced wine that is served around the holidays.  The market closes on Christmas eve, so there is still time to investigate this Chicago and European tradition.

 

Photo of the Day: Fulton Market

Fulton Market in Chicago West Loop
Just west of the downtown Loop area is Fulton Market.  For decades, this area was home to countless meat processors and warehouses, and several still operate today.  Come in the pre-dawn and early morning hours and the streets are clogged with trucks picking up provisions for local restaurants.  In recent years, Fulton Market has seen upscale shops, galleries and several cutting edge restaurants open.  Just a few blocks away on west Randolph is the more established Restaurant Row–with the addition of Fulton Market eateries, Chicagoans have countless gourmet options just minutes from the Loop.

 

Photo of the Day: Autumn Leaves

This photo was taken a few years ago in Hyde Park.  As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words, so anything I say now would be superfluous.

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