Chicago Cultural Center houses a useful tourist information office (where I found the leaflet which led me to the jewel of Second Presbyterian Church) but it's also somewhere you should visit for itself.
The building dates from 1897 and was originally the city's library. It is a typical example of 'Victorian' civic building, complete vaguely-ancient-Greek architecture....you'll see hundreds of similar examples in the UK. But inside there are the most beautiful stained-glass domes (at least one is Tiffany, and is claimed to be the largest Tiffany dome in the world), and white Carrara marble staircases, and exquisite glittering mosaic panels.
There are also events and exhibitions: check the website below for information.
Don't just visit the TI office: take the time to explore the building a little more. It will repay your efforts. I wouldn't have done so if it had not been for Chicago VT-er Riorich55, who introduced me to the beauties within the building. :-)
Seems everyone who can, does. Not easy getting up onto the large
statue of a steer outside the cultural center, but once I saw someone do it, I decided
that I could do it also. Swing one leg up and have someone give you a big push.
Spend sometime tracking down the movie locations used on The Untouchbles.
The Cultural Centre is one where Al Capone lurked and sweet-talked the Chicago press as well as murdering one of his henchmen.
Apart from all that it is a glorious building. Beautiful stairways and domed roofs - definatley worth exploring.
This picture is of the Preston Bradley Hall on the third floor, the dome is reputed to be the largest Tiffany dome in the world. Its supposed to be worth $35 million.
The second picture is the Roosevelt University where Ness confronted Capone.
This is housed in what used to be the main library. They host art exhibits, readings, and so forth, plus it's a really pretty building. It also houses the Museum of Broadcast Communication, of note because Chicago was very important in the early history of radio.
I went there an a school trip to look at some works of art,I think the true art, the true culture, was in the building it self. The South Staircase with winding rails was majestic, as well as the hall which housed it. An arched entrance way with the names of the great writers of the ages carved in marble. The Grand Army of the Republic Hall, with famous battles of the Civil War remembered throughout it. The Preston Bradley Hall with it's Tiffany Dome (a major piece of art in it's own). And inscriptions from every language imaginable to the human tongue. These are the things that fascinated me. These are the things that brought the building to life. These where the things that impressed me the most as works of art.
The Visitor Information Center at the Chicago Cultural Center is a great first stop on your visit. There are countless brochures, maps, and other resources to help you plan your trip. This is also where you can pick up free tickets for the Loop Tour Train, which is offered on Saturdays from May through September at 11am, 11:40am, 12:20pm, and 1pm. The tour takes place on an elevated train that circles the Loop 3 times while a tour guide describes the history and architecture. While you're at the Cultural Center, check out the 38-foot Tiffany stained-glass dome in the Preston Bradley Hall in the south end of the building. You may also want to take a look at the schedule of performances during your visit, as they claim to be "one of the most comprehensive free arts showcases in the United States."
Visitor Center Hours
Monday - Thursday: 8am - 7pm
Friday: 8am - 6pm
Saturday: 9am - 6pm
Sunday: 10am - 6pm
Holidays: 10am - 4pm
Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and New Year's Day
The architecture alone is a reason to visit this spot, but it's also extremely peaceful, and there's even a cafe inside.
There wasn't a whole lot to see when I came (a great photo exhibit on Chicago neighborhoods), but it was a wonderful place to sit down and rest from the walk around the city.
The Chicago Cultural Center, formerly the public library, is a magnificent building that provides an unusual role as a cultural center for the public, with free art exhibits, performances, lectures, workshops, and more in a magnificent setting.
As I note in my "Untouchables" tip, it also provided the location for several scenes in the film The Untouchables.
I'm not sure if this is a new event or one that has been happening for a while, but if it is a new event I sure hope they continue it year to year.
Earlier in the day, the first day of summer 2014 which just so happened to fall on a Saturday this year in was on a sunrise shoot in Chicago. Unfortunately the sun was hidden behind some pretty dense fog at 5:15 a.m. so I didn't get any sun shots, but did get a couple of cool fog shots.
Anyway, later in the day after another photo shoot in the suburbs I took the train back into the city for about 4 hours. One of the events going on in town, besides the Zombie Walk and People in Urban Spaces (tips to follows) was an event I had not heard about until I stopped in at the Chicago Cultural Center (always a recommended first stop for visitors).
This particular event had musical performances all over Chicago. From north to south from east to west (ok, maybe not too far east since you would then be in Lake Michigan, but everything east of state street like Michigan Avenue could be considered East.
I got a few shots of several musicians, but my favorite was the drummer and the little kid.
The building is beautiful and should be toured just for its architecture. There was an exhibit on the top floor that was fun, funny, and insightful. There is also artwork on the ground floor as well. The visitors center for the city is located inside of the building as well.