Monday, June 21, 2010

Chicago - The Magnificient Miles

19-5-2010(Wednesday) Chicago

This article is the continue of last article on Navy Pier. After Navy Pier, we went to Michigan Avenue, the place is also called Magnificent Miles for its upmarket shopping. We started from John Hancock Building, the floor that sell camera, computers, and other electronic goods. By walking down the street from John Hancock until the crown fountain in Millennium Park. Along the Michigan Avenue are numerous upscale stores, the shopping heaven for Chicago City.

The Magnificent Miles & Near North Side

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After leaving Navy Pier, we walk along the beach shore, and crossed the highway to the neighborhood of Near North Side. The neighborhood is an upper market residential area, which is closed to Magnificent Avenue. A kind American Japanese who just finished her shopping, guided us to the John Hancock Center. We walk along N Lake Shore Drive, which is a highway, toward Northwestern University Department building after crossing E Huron Street. We then turn westward into E Chicago Avenue, where the Northwestern University Medical School is located. The Lake Shore Park is opposite the medical school, after the park is Museum of Contemporary Art. We said good bye to the good Japanese lady when she left for her apartment around East Pearson St. John Hancock Building is nearby at Michigan Avenue. From East Pearson St we come to the junction of Michigan Avenue, where the historical Water Tower Place is located. The Visitor Center is located there. By walking another block, crossing E Chestnut St is the location of John Hancock Center, opposite is the old Fourth Presbyterian Church. Not far away walking southward is the City Gallery- Water Tower.

John Hancock Center

John Hancock Center at 875 North Michigan Avenue in the Streeterville area of Chicago, Illinois, is a 100-story, 1,127-foot (344 m) tall skyscraper, constructed under the supervision of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, with chief designer Bruce Graham and structural engineer Fazlur Khan. When the building topped out on May 6, 1968, it was the tallest building in the world outside New York City. It is currently the fourth-tallest building in Chicago and the sixth-tallest in the United States, after the Willis Tower, the Empire State Building, the Bank of America Tower, the Trump Tower Chicago, and the Aon Center. Chicago 3rd tallest building, after Willis, Trump Tower. When measured to the top of its antenna masts, it stands at 1,506 feet (459 m). The building is home to offices and restaurants, as well as about 700 condominiums and contains the third highest residence in the world, after the Trump Tower also in Chicago and the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. This skyscraper was named for John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Company, a developer and original tenant of the building

The 95th floor has long been home to a restaurant, the latest tenant being "The Signature Room on the 95th Floor." While patrons dine, they can look out at Chicago and Lake Michigan. John Hancock Center's Observatory attraction (called John Hancock Observatory) competes with the Willis Tower's Skydeck across town. John Hancock Center is in the heart of Michigan Avenue, a prime tourist hotspot in Chicago, while the Willis Tower is in the financial district. John Hancock Observatory is complete with full 360 degree views of the city, up to four states and over 80 miles. The floor-to-ceiling windows leaves nothing between you and the view. The Observatory has Chicago's only open-air SkyWalk, where they took our 80 feet of windows and put in NASA-approved steel casing so you can feel what it's like to be outside more than 1,000 feet up. There's a History Wall with exhibits about the City of Chicago from its first settlers up to the completion of John Hancock Center

The observatory is at 94th floor. The admission of US$21 per adult, including general admission ticket, Open air sky walk, and Exclusive JHO View 360 souvenir. Fast track is US$29 per adult. The general admission ticket is US$15 per adult.

We did not go to the observatory, as we have been to Willis Tower. But we did go into the building and rest at the shop for sometime, looking out of their glass window to the Michigan Avenue. The real window shopping.....

Willis Tower entrance is expensive, John Hancock is also fee paying. Some tips to have bird view of the city, but avoid paying entrance fee for budget travelers:

1.Go to the Signature Lounge 95th floor, get a Coke and experience the view while avoiding the admission fee for the observation deck only a few stories up.

Note: You can spend $10-11 and visit the official observation deck on the 94th floor of the John Hancock Building, or you can wait in another line, sometimes shorter, and always free line to go to the Bar/Lounge on the 95th Floor.

The view isn't as dramatic with tables, and bars and people sprawled along the window seats, but for the budget traveler, or drinker, you can get a 2nd-rate view and spend your $10 on a couple of expensive drinks.

2. Another alternative to avoid paying fee is to spring for a sinfully delicious dinner at La Cite`, the fabulous round restaurant on top of Lake Point Tower (the wave-shaped glass building across the street from Navy Pier). Prix fixe menu. This is Champagne and Chateaubriand heaven. For daytime views at a more modest cost Sunday brunch is sometimes offered.

3. Buy Chicago Pass, not total avoidance, but to save cost.

The Chicago Water Tower

The Chicago Water Tower is a contributing property in the Old Chicago Water Tower District landmark district. It is located at 806, North Michigan Avenue along the Magnificent Mile shopping district in the Near North Side community area of Chicago, Illinois. Located adjacent to Loyola University Chicago's downtown campus, the Water Tower serves as one of the Chicago Office of Tourism's Official Visitor's Centers. The Chicago Water Tower is the second-oldest water tower in the United States, after the Louisville Water Tower in Louisville, Kentucky.

Since its survival of the Great Fire, the Water Tower became one of the city's most famous icons as it symbolized Chicago's resilience. It was threatened with demolition several times - in 1906, 1918 and 1948 - but it was saved each time thanks to a public outcry. The tower was eventually restored in 1962.

In May of 1969, during the year of its centennial anniversary, the Chicago Water Tower was selected by the American Water Works Association to be the first American Water Landmark. Today the tower is one of the most important historic attractions in Chicago. It houses a gallery which showcases works from local photographers.

The tower, built in 1869 by architect William W. Boyington from yellowing Joliet limestone, is 154 feet (47 m) tall. Inside was a 138 foot (42 m) high standpipe to hold water. In addition to being used for firefighting, the pressure in the pipe could be regulated to control water surges in the area. The tower gained prominence after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. While some incorrectly believe that the tower was the only building to survive the fire, a few other buildings in the burned district survived along with the tower. But the water tower was the only public building in the burned zone to survive, and is the only one of the surviving structures still standing. In the years since the fire, the tower has become a symbol of old Chicago and of the city's recovery from the fire. In 1918, when Pine Street was widened, the plans were altered in order to give the Water Tower a featured location

Water Tower Place

Water Tower Place is a large urban, mixed-use development comprising a 758,000 sq ft shopping mall and 74 story skyscraper in Chicago, Illinois. The complex is located at 835 North Michigan Avenue, along the Magnificent Mile. It is named after the nearby Chicago Water Tower.

The tower section is a 74-story 859 foot (262 m) reinforced concrete slab, faced with gray marble, and is the eighth tallest building in Chicago and the twenty-sixth tallest in the United States. When built, it was the tallest reinforced concrete building in the world. It contains an award winning Ritz-Carlton hotel, luxury condominiums, and office space and sits atop a block long base containing a highly successful, atrium-style retail mall that fronts on the Magnificent Mile.

The Magnificent Miles & Shopping

Known as the Magnificent Mile, North Michigan Avenue Between Oak Street and Grand Avenue is Chicago's version of Fifth Avenue with its abundant upscale shopping.

Shopping is never my solely tour agenda in any of my past tour destination. Be it London, Paris, Shanghai, Beijing, Singapore, Hong Kong, and now Chicago. Sometime I was forced to follow the tour group, sometime family members. But Magnificent Miles along Michigan Avenue is different, my aim is to see the Tulips that planted along the street. Shopping along the street planted with Tulips, what a romantic idea... wife and daughter were naturally happy. &

After my failure to see Tulip blossom in Amsterdam, I really looking forward to see the Tulips planted along Michigan Avenue. But sad to say, it is no longer blossom, nevertheless managed to see some, even the one named after the wife of the Mayor of Chicago. It is also fortunate, as the next day the workers(most of them are Central American) are changing the flowers for Summer season.

Crown Fountain, Millennium Park

We missed Crown Fountain during our visit to Millennium Park, we decided to visit after the shopping walk along Michigan Avenue. Even it is getting dark, the fun of the fountain and the night view of Chicago is worth the visit.

Dinner at Millennium Pub

The cafe is packed with the locals, drinking and watching the sport events from the TV. This is the meeting place of locals after office hours, some even with their office attire. The place is crowded, but the service is good. We really enjoyed the food there.

The Pub is near to the hotel, but also near the State Street and Train station. Some homeless people are there, but did not disturb us.

Need to have good sleep tonight as tomorrow afternoon we are leaving Chicago. It is a happy night, as Chicago is shopping heaven for tourist also...We are satisfied that we are able to tour the Chicago all on our own. A beautiful city. There is still room to explore, missed Hyde Park, may be next time if there is another chance to visit Chicago....

Chicago will be in my memory for life....

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