I was just passing by with a friend one night and I noticed the tower. I was kind of interested about the building because it reminded me a bit of an European one from the medivial times. Here is what my friend told me about it:
The Water Tower is considered as one of the Chicago's historic landmarks. It was built way back at the end of 19th century. The great fire in 1871 which leveled nearly every building in the city except the Water Tower. So, the tower is considered to be the symbol of Chicago's rise from the ashes.
He also told me that there is a gallery inside the Water Tower showing pictures of Chicago taken by Chicago photographers. Unfortubatly, due to the late hour I could not visit the gallery. I hope I will do that some day.
Michigan Avenue is truly "The Magnificent Mile" in Chicago. It stretches from the Wrigley Building and goes north to Oak Street.
Tourists as well as residents flock here because of the exclusive boutiques, the best retail stores, terrific restaurants, nightlife, art galleries, magnificent architecture, Salons, cafes, and glorious gardens.
As a "vertical city", you'll find yourself constantly looking up at such buildings as Hancock building, Tribune Building, Wrigley Building, Old Water Tower and Pumping Station, and the London Guarantee Building. Also, since the Trump Tower is being constructed, we'll all soon be looking way up at this very tall building on the river.
Michigan Avenue has four large shopping centers, and each has between four and ten levels of shops, restaurants, and atriums.
1. Hancock Building where you can go to the observatory and see the entire city.
2. Water Tower Shopping Center.
3. One of my favorites: The Wrigley Building.
4. The lovely and historic Water Tower.
5. The under construction Trump Tower.
As with the '35 East Wacker' building, I only later learned how quirky the present Intercontinental Chicago hotel building really was. On my very first excursion onto Chicago's streets my eyes were drawn upward to the roof of a building with a strange golden dome and what looked like an old stone chimney - I thought, maybe this is the famous 'Water Tower'! In the end, with not enough spare time, I wandered here and there over a period of a few days but never did make a special trip to see the building up-close.
According to Wikipedia: "The InterContinental Chicago hotel...currently occupies two Multi-story buildings. The historic tower, or "South Tower," is a 471 foot, 42 story building which was completed in 1929 originally as the home of the Medinah Athletic Club. The main tower, or "North Tower" is a 295 foot, 25 story addition, completed in 1961. Before the stock market crash of 1929, the United States was experiencing a building boom and one of these projects (the South Tower) was to be the future home of the Medinah Athletic Club in Chicago.
The...building was intended to combine elements of many architectural styles. At the eighth floor, its Indiana limestone facade was decorated by three large relief carvings in ancient Assyrian style. The exotic gold dome, which is Moorish in influence, originated as part of a decorative docking port for dirigibles - a notion conceived before the Hindenburg disaster in 1937 (in which 36 people died when the dirigible caught fire while docking in New Jersey). Years later, the building would lose several feet with the dismantling of an ornamental canopy on the small turret north of the dome. This chimney-like structure was originally intended to assist in the docking of these air ships, but it was never put into use. Inside the dome, a glass cupola and spiral iron staircase resembling the top of a lighthouse led down (for the airship passengers) to the hotel’s upper elevator landing.
In the tower beneath the great dome, the club featured a miniature golf course on the twenty-third floor, complete with water hazards and a wandering brook; also a shooting range, billiards hall, running track, gymnasium, archery range, bowling alley, two story boxing arena, and a junior Olympic size swimming pool - all this in addition to the ballrooms, meeting rooms, and 440 guest rooms which were available for the exclusive use of the club’s 3,500 members and their guests
Four years after the Wall Street Crash of 1929 the Shrine Organization filed for bankruptcy protection. In the following year they lost control of the building, and in the decades after, the building went through various incarnations, including as a hotel and a brief stint as residential apartments. In 1988, InterContinental Hotels and Resorts purchased the property outright and completed the first phase of extensive renovations prior to its re-opening in 1990."
The history of some of these buildings is amazing!
There are four bridge-houses with sculptural relief panels that are made out of limestone at the edges of the Michigan Avenue Bridge. J. E. Fraser and Henry Herring were responsible for these beautiful artistic reliefs.
Michigan Avenue Bridge is a classical design that was modeled after the Seine bridges of Paris, Edward Bennett was a consultant to the Chicago Plan Commission, and he wanted these bridge houses to commemorate the fact that Chicago's first settlers had lived along the banks of of the Chicago River at this spot where the Michigan Avenue Bridge now stands. Notice that there are metal boundary lines set in the sidewalks near the bridge used to mark off where Fort Dearborn once stood.
These relief panels on each of the bridge-houses are often photographed and admired. I photographed two of the four:
"Regeneration": (This scene commemorates the devastation created by the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 , but especially about the rebuilding of Chicago. The city was left in ashes. But the people of the city rose because of their indomitable spirit and energy to create a greater city.
"Defense":(The scene pictures the scene from the Fort Dearborn Massacre of 1812. The Fort's people are shown being led to safety by a Native American scout. Engraved on it was:
"Fort Dearborn stood almost on this spot.
After an heroic defense in eighteen
Hundred and Twelve, the garrison together
with women and children was forced to evacuate
the fort led forth by Captain Wells. They
were brutally massacred by the Indians.
They will be cherished as martyrs in
Our early history"
It was erected by the trustees of th Ferguson Monument fund in 1928.
The two that I did not photograph:
"The Discoverers" depicts the French explorers, Louis Jolliet and Jacques Marquette and others who explored the Mississippi River.
"The Pioneers" tells of the early settler and fur trader, John Kinzie, who purchased his cabin in 1804 from Jean Baptiste Pointe DuSable while he lead a group through the wilderness.
Don't miss these wonderful Bridge Houses and their powerful relief carvings.
Although Oscar Wilde called it a "monstrosity with pepper boxes stuck all over it" most Chicagoans and visitors seem to love the Water Tower. Located on Michigan Avenue in the midst of the Mag Mile shopping area, it was one of two public buildings to survive the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, the other being the Pumping Station across the street, both of which are constructed with Joliet (Illinois) limestone designed in Gothic Revival style.
Although the Pumping Station still pumps water for the city, the Water Tower, built in 1869 to house a 138-foot standpipe to equalize the water pressure, became obsolete and the standpipe removed in 1911.
There's nothing much to see inside (unlike the pumping station which is interesting if you can get a glimpse). The one time I wandered in there was a small photo exhibit unrelated to the Water Tower.
Being from Canada's Maritime Provinces, I always like to see water! Consequently, I was very happy to find the Chicago River area around the Michigan Avenue Bridge. It was quite a visual treat as I walked only a few steps further south from the Tribune and Wrigley buildings (2nd photo). This Beaux Arts-style bridge was completed in 1920 and, along with with the sculptures on its impressive bridge house towers that control operation of the lift-bridge spans, it made for a grand entrance into the city's downtown area.
My 3rd photo shows a closer view of one of the bridge houses that allow river traffic to pass by opening the two pivoted 3750-ton steel and concrete bridge sections (one on each bank) upward as required. These buildings are also adorned with very impressive bas relief sculptures of events from Chicago's history, including the plaque in my 4th photo commemorating French explorers from Canada who made their way through the area in the 1680s on their way to the Mississippi River.
Before going to Chicago, I'd heard a lot about all the shops on Magnificient Mile, but I had no idea the city was such a fashion mecca! Chicago's Magnificient Mile could be seen as the equivalent of NYC's Fifth Avenue or LA's Rodeo Drive, with the exception that in-between the high-fashion stores, you'll find some more accessible shops and might actually be able to afford something! The portion of Michigan Avenue referred to as "Magnificient Mile" stretches between the Chicago River and Oak Street, and it was the construction of the Michigan Avenue Bridge in 1920 that gave rise to this new high-end shopping district. Avid shoppers will probably want to spend quite a few hours in some of the world's largest department stores, including Bloomingdale's, Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom, Macy's and Lord & Taylor. If you feel like going upscale, you can also check out Cartier, Escada, Chanel, Ralph Lauren, Hermès, Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Giorgio Armani, among others. The Apple, Disney, Hershey's and American Girl stores are also located on Magnificient Mile.
As for me? Well, those who know me even a little bit won't be surprised to hear that I spent most of my money at Borders!!
Many visitors to Chicago stay on or just a couple of blocks from North Michigan Avenue which is better know as the Magnificent Mile or Mag Mile, it's where you will find many of the major hotels in Chicago, the prime shopping area of Chicago and many of Chicago's famous restaurants.
If you find yourself with a nice sunny warm day, start your visit at the south end of the Mag Mile with an Architectural River Cruise several of which leave from under the bridge at Wacker and Michigan.
Once finished with the River cruise, head north on Michigan Avenue where you'll find two of my favorite buildings in Chicago, the Tribune Tower and the Wrigley Building. Next door to the Tribune Tower is the Hotel Intercontinental which is worth popping into to see the lobby and then take a look across the street at the McGraw Hill building and the reliefs of Greek Gods.
There's shopping galore on the next section until you get to the Water Tower and Pumping station (public restrooms here), two beautiful limestone structures that survived the Chicago Fire.
Ready for a break? Stop by Ghiradelli or Hershey for an ice cream sundae or some chocolate.
Ready for lunch? See my restaurant tips listed under NMA
Your next stop should be the Hancock Building, I always skip the observatory and head to the Signature Lounge for a drink and the same view.
North Michigan Avenue is one of the world's greatest streets, and has world-class shopping, food, hotels and entertainment right along the street or nearby.
Take a walk from Randolph St. and Grant Park, across the bridge, and all the way north to around the Drake Hotel to enjoy everything Michigan Ave. has to offer. Check out the architecture, do some shopping at Water Tower Place, visit the historic Water Tower, and check out the views from the observatory at the Hancock Center. It is a great place to be all year round.
Take a look at this picture. Can you believe that I was actually once my school's official photographer. Needless to say, I wasn't paid for my services.
This picture is awful because I was in such a hurry to take it so not to many people would look at me as a camera-clickin' tourist new to the town.
The Water Tower is the one structure to survive the Chicago Fire. It is the oldest building downtown.
You can go inside where they have a small gallery featuring pictures from local artists.
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