Tahlequah Daily Press

Checking It Out

July 14, 2010

Chicago is architecture aficionado's paradise

TAHLEQUAH — Chicago is an architecture aficionado's ultimate paradise. Thanks to the Great Fire of the 1880s (and, in popular legend, the clumsy or recalcitrant nature of Mrs. O'Leary's cow), the city could be rebuild according to a splendidly harmonized scheme, rather than the ramshackle fashion through which most urban areas take shape over time.

Most of Chicago's buildings conform to the Art Deco pattern, which is one reason my husband and I enjoy it so much. Art Deco, in a nutshell, sprang up in France during the Industrial Revolution, which corresponded with a resurgence in interest in all things Egyptian. Therefore, many of the colors, patterns and themes melded ancient Egyptian with modern concepts. A plethora of metal, marble and geometric lines and patterns collided to give birth to a unique form, and American architects added their own special twist. No other city in America is more exemplary of ideal than Chicago.

The Chicago Architecture Foundation is the best way to immerse yourself in the grand design of this city, through a variety of tours showcasing every aspect of its character. We try to take a different tour every time we visit, and each one is a bit different; it all depends on your personal taste. We've done the boat tour on the Chicago River, which takes you past many of the most famous skyscrapers. We've also done a walking tour highlighting many of the city's best 'examples of Art Deco design. Last year, we especially enjoyed a Segway tour that took us along the shore of Lake Michigan and to the museum campus.

This year, for the first time, we took a bus tour, "Highlights By Bus," which lasted from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Chicago's finest historic and modern landmarks were on the menu, including the Rookery, Frank Lloyd Wright's Robie House, and Mies van der Rohe's Illinois Institute of Technology campus. We got to go inside some of the structures, including the fabulous Robie House, and our well-informed docent was able to explain the intricacies, as well as the particular thinking behind the various architects' individual genius. (I've already posted photos of all the highlights.)

Many Oklahomans are familiar with Wright because of his Price Tower in Bartlesville. In the Chicago area, Wright was better known for his design of residential properties, such as the Robie House. Now it's owned by the University of Chicago, but a foundation established particularly for Wright properties maintains it, and is currently restoring it. We weren't allowed to take photos inside, which is a pity, because the lovely etched windows for which Wright is so famous have a much more stunning effect from the inside looking out. Those familiar with Wright also know his designs tend to be more horizontal in nature rather than vertical, so ceilings are typically low, but in Robie House, the open nature that combined the living room with the dining room, while commonplace today, was innovative for its time. A sunken fireplace between the two areas literally beat as the heart of the home.

The extreme "open space" concepts of Mies van der Rohe were not as impressive to me as the Wright and other post-modern designs, but many people were quite taken with the mood orchestrated by such expansiveness (the photo of me with the "silver clouds" was taken in one of these buildings). The student center, however -- with the Red Line train running right over it in a sound-buffering tube -- was extremely interesting.

Check out www.architecture.org for more details (or research these architects individually). If you go to Chicago, do insist that one of these tours be part of the itinerary; you won't be disappointed.

Right after the tour, we grabbed lunch at Al's No. 1 Italian Beef -- the Ontario location, rather than the original Taylor address in Little Italy. I posted a photo earlier of the sandwich my husband and son devoured: a combo Italian beef and Italian sausage monstrosity they find irresistible. Therefore, Al's is always on the agenda for Chicago. I typically eat something less fattening, and this time had the Back of the Yards, which was packed with ham, prosciutto and capocollo. (This choice earned a snide comment from a friend I've had since my days at OU, Mark Solow, who is trying to convince me to kick pork permanently from my life -- no small feat, since it's my husband's favorite meat.) Well... it was just this once!

Next up was another staple of the Chicago lineup, a trip to Spa Space (www.spaspace.com) for some exquisite massage pampering. (Kimpton Hotel guests get a discount, by the way, and coupons are usually available online as well.) I highly recommend Spa Space for the royal treatment, and we've yet to have a massage therapist who wasn't top-notch. My husband had a two-hour Swedish/deep tissue combo, while this time, I enjoyed the signature Space Ritual, which consisted of Swedish massage, aromatherapy, reflexology, Indian head massage and hot stone therapy. While it's true that massages are not inexpensive, if you've never had one, you should try it at least once; we indulge once or maybe twice a year. And it's well worth the money if you choose the right establishment. My therapist, Deanna, is an actual reflexologist, and she explained that pressure point massages of the feet can affect many other parts of the body in a position fashion, and she wasn't kidding. It was difficult for me to get up from the table and walk away! (Cherae, you might wanna comment on this!)

We capped off the evening by taking the Red Line, then a bus, north to the area around Wrigley Field, where a very special pub called Duke of Perth awaits discriminating guests. This place was recommended to me by my good friend and fellow band member from high school, Chuck Letbetter (whom some of you now know as a well-respected art photographer). Chuck was supposed to join us this year for dinner, but due to a series of unfortunate circumstances, had to stand us up (and I'm still deciding whether to forgive him!) I solemnly promise you, the all-you-can-eat fish and chips (with green peas) on Wednesdays and Fridays is more than worth the $9.99 price tag, and it's the best fish and chips we've had on this side of the pond. (That's saying a lot; since my brother lives in Oxford, we've been to England three times.) But the real reason Chuck recommended Duke of Perth was for the extensive (and possibly unparalleled in this part of the country) collection of single-malt Scotches. I myself don't indulge in the swill, but my husband loves it. Lately he's been into Laphroaig, a smoky, peaty concoction, and he got to try all of the vintages available. My son sampled the Scottish beers, and heartily gave them the thumbs-up.

On the way to the pub, incidentally, I noticed another bar, Stretch Bar and Grill, and I simply HAD to have a photo of that, for Kevin Stretch (a fellow classmate from Fort Gibson whom I've known since first grade, and who many of YOU now have the privilege of knowing, as he works at NSU). The pic didn't turn out, so we had to go back later to get it, and wound up somehow with a weird little video clip (also posted).

Maybe we'll learn how to use the camera, which we've had since my son was in high school, before this trip is over!

1
Text Only
Checking It Out
  • 700859_46212351.jpg Is the world prepared for the driverless car era? Are you?

    Picture it. You slip into your car, recline and start reading the day's news on your smartphone. The vehicle accelerates, smoothly navigates traffic and seamlessly merges onto the freeway, without your lifting a finger.

    January 15, 2013 1 Photo

  • Big Easy: Good food, music and fun

    New Orleans isn’t for the faint of heart. So if you’re offended by transvestites, topless women, sex toy shops, all-hours bars, the sight of people purging in the street and other visions of light-hearted debauchery, read no further, because the Big Easy is not for you.

    March 7, 2012

  • Hard Rock Resort: Gaming, dining, fun and relaxation, all in one!

    The Tulsa-area partnership with the Cherokee Nation promises to be a success.

    December 1, 2010

  • 67732_1613212460524_1542685549_31469326_5271964_n.jpg Walt Disney World, Part 4

    Anytime my husband and I schedule a few days of vacation, checking out good restaurants tops our list of things to do.

    October 22, 2010 4 Photos

  • 73368_1612961654254_1542685549_31468995_3483307_n.jpg Walt Disney World, Part 3

    When it comes to travel, I count myself extremely lucky. For one thing, I have family in a few ultimate vacation spots, and they’re always happy to put up with me for a couple of days.

    October 22, 2010 4 Photos

  • 67314_1610259146693_1542685549_31465934_2333581_n.jpg Walt Disney World, Part 2

    How long do you need at Walt Disney World to enjoy every attraction, every restaurant and every recreational outlet? Do you have two months to spare?
    Probably not, unless you’re retired and blessed with a recent lottery win.

    October 20, 2010 4 Photos

  • 64988_1608792190020_1542685549_31463803_2253724_n.jpg Walt Disney World, Part 1

    When you step into the enchanting world created in 1971 by Walt Disney, on what was once an expanse of uninviting swampland, you can literally leave behind whatever troubles you have, if only for a few days.

    October 19, 2010 4 Photos

  • 20864_1480865951944_1542685549_31163374_4310619_n.jpg While in Chicago, take in a game or two

    Thursday was our last full day in the Windy City, and once we finally rolled out of bed, we were en route for U.S. Cellular Field to take in a White Sox Game. Not that we’re Sox fans, mind you – they just happened to be playing the Angels, which my son considers “his” team.

    July 14, 2010 3 Photos

  • 34281_1480866871967_1542685549_31163379_2965839_n.jpg Chicago is architecture aficionado's paradise

    Chicago is an architecture aficionado's ultimate paradise. Thanks to the Great Fire of the 1880s (and, in popular legend, the clumsy or recalcitrant nature of Mrs. O'Leary's cow), the city could be rebuild according to a splendidly harmonized scheme, rather than the ramshackle fashion through which most urban areas take shape over time.

    July 14, 2010 2 Photos

  • Day 4 (Tuesday) in the Windy City

    It might be hard to believe you can get good Cajun food in a place as far north from New Orleans as you can get without pronouncing “about” without the “o” (that’s a-BUTT, for those of you not in the know). But you can, and that’s how we started the day Tuesday, July 6, in the Windy City.

    July 8, 2010

Poll

What to you think of a state Legislature proposal to forbid cities from raising the minimum wage? Choose the closest to your opinion.

The federal government should set the minimum wage across the board.
States should be allowed to raise their minimum wages, but not cities.
Both states and cities should be allowed to raise their minimum wages.
Cities should be allowed to raise their mimum wages, but not states.
There should be no minimum wage at all.
Undecided.
     View Results
Tahlequah Daily Press Twitter
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest Police Arrest Suspect in Highway Shootings Drought Concerns May Hurt Lake Tourism Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home Calif. Investigators Re-construct Fatal Bus Cras Mayor Rob Ford Launches Re-election Campaign Appellate Court Hears Okla. Gay Marriage Case Author Gabriel Garcia Marquez Dead at 87 Beau Biden Plans 2016 Run for Del. Governor Chelsea Clinton Is Pregnant Horseless Carriage Introduced at NY Auto Show Obama Hopeful on Ukraine, Will Watch Russians Flamingo Frenzy Ahead of Zoo Construction Crew Criticized Over Handling of Ferry Disaster Agreement Reached to Calm Ukraine Tensions Raw: Pope Francis Performs Pre-easter Ritual Boston Bombing Survivors One Year Later Sister of Slain MIT Officer Reflects on Bombing
Stocks