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See Chicago in an hour
Shoreline Architecture River Cruise (Chicago, USA)
Member Name: catsholiday
Shoreline Architecture River Cruise (Chicago, USA)
Advantages: Very informative and interesting
Disadvantages: None at all that I can think of
We spent a week in Chicago in June 2012 and knew we wanted to take a boat trip. We had thought about a trip on Lake Michigan but we did a bit of research and found that in fact you see a lot more from the boat on the River trip hence we booked this. We did also do the Lake shore trip as we got a discount for doing the two.
PRICES AND WHERE TO GET ON
The boat leaves from the Ogden Slip, which is located on the west side of Gateway Park at the entrance of Navy Pier. There is a booth there to purchase tickets but you can also buy them at other booth and on line which is slightly cheaper.
The prices may be slightly different so check on line if you want to do this trip
Weekdays: Adult, $29; Senior, $22; Child, $12
Weekend: Adult, $29; Senior $25; Child, $15
Both River and Lake trips combined did give a big discount but i cannot find the prices and forget what we paid now.
This was an open topped boat so you got great views of all the buildings. It did have an annoying bar all around the top at about head height that you were not allowed to be above for safety reasons and this did mean you had to wriggle around a bit to get it out of your photos.
There are partially covered lower decks but we chose to sit on top where we could see but this may be more tempting in winter. All boats are wheelchair accessible and we did see how helpful the crew were in getting someone aboard with the wheel chair which was certainly a positive.
There is a small shop which sells non-alcoholic beverages and l snacks and some cruises have alcohol for sale but we didn't buy anything as the hour was so packed with things to see.
I am assuming there must be toilets but again this was not something that any of us needed as we are still of an age where we can last more than an hour between toilet visits!
Being on the river meant that there was no real motion problem so anyone with a fear of getting sea sick need not worry at all . It was perfectly calm all through the entire hour long trip. When you board the boat you do have to go through the silliness of having your photo taken and if you do want to buy this at the end then be prepared to pay big money.
Because the trip takes you pretty close to many of the important buildings in Chicago there are also security checks before you board but this is not a big problem. If you do go on this trip during the summer then wear a hat and lots of sunscreen as there is no shade on the boat. I am assuming that if it is raining they have a cover but as it was sunny the day we went we didn't see this. I would imagine in winter you would need a pretty thick coat and other winter gear as it would get very cold on the boat with no shelter.
The guide we had was brilliant he was very informed and also had a great sense of humour. At no time at all did I lose interest in what he was telling us. He ended the trip by singing us a song which could have been really cringe worthy but he had a good voice and the song was quite clever so all in all we were very impressed with him.
WHAT YOU SEE
The boat takes you up all three branches of the Chicago River past dozens of landmark buildings, including the Tribune Tower, the Wrigley Building, Marina City and the Willis (Sears) Tower. Not only did you get to see another side of all these buildings but the guide told you about the architects the stories behind who owned them and the style of architecture and how it fitted in the development of the city as a whole.
As you enter the River you are told the amazing story of how they engineers have managed to make the Chicago River flow the opposite way to the way it should. I wish I fully understood but it sounded very impressive and has meant that the river is cleaner than it used to be. This was done way back in 1900 so was a pretty impressive feat of engineering for the time. A canal was constructed which was named the Sanitary and Ship Canal and this meant that the Chicago River was finally and permanently reversed. The city's water supply was made safe, and the river mouth became a port that served thousands of ships each year.
The Tribune building was created after the newspaper company offered a $50,000 prize for the winning design in 1922. It is a very attractive building Inspired by the Button Tower of the cathedral at Rouen, France and another quirky feature is found near the base where 120 stones from places all around the world, including the Parthenon, in Greece; the pyramids, in Egypt; the Taj Mahal, in India; the Alamo, in San Antonio; the Great Wall of China and many others have been placed in the structure with the names beside them. Goodness knows how he got permission to take stones from those places!
Trump Tower was originally designed to be the tallest building in the world but after the 9/11 terrorist attacks the building was scaled down. It is now a very shiny 92-story structure which is 1,389 feet (423 m) including its spire. It sits beside the main branch of the Chicago River, with views of the entry to Lake Michigan beyond a series of bridges over the river.
The Wrigley Building is indeed named after the chewing gum. As it was the headquarters of the company when first built in 1919. At that timed it was the first large office building built north of the Chicago River. Originally it had no north tower and this was added in 1925. I liked the fact that its clock has an hour hand that is 6 feet 9 inches long. Another snippet I found of interest was that part of the movie "The Fugitive" was filmed on its lower level.
Marina City is actually two towers which because of their unique shape make great city scape photos. It is known as marina city as it was built as a city within a city completed in 1964 and was designed by architect Bertrand Goldberg .It cost $36 million and at the time the two towers were both the tallest residential buildings and the tallest reinforced concrete structures in the world. Inside you will find a theatre, gym, swimming pool, ice rink, bowling alley, many shops and restaurants and the marina.
The Willis or as it used to be known the Sears tower and a very famous Chicago building. You can go up this building and stand on the glass floor outside the building so you are looking straight down to the street. It was finished in 1973 and is 1,450 feet high. For 25 years it was the world's tallest building until the Petronas Towers in Malaysia were built in 1998.
We also passed the building where Al Capone had his dealings in his hey day. There was a strange swing bridge that now doesn't go down and has been left as a sort of art installation. Also on the trip we saw not only the place where Chicago started but also the place where the fire started that brought Chicago down to rubble.
It was a really very relaxing trip but also one with an interesting guided commentary full of humour and fascinating facts. We all enjoyed our hour long trip and that was my husband and i plus my son and his partner and every one of us commented on how great it was so a full ten out of ten score for the this trip.
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Summary: A really great trip to give you an idea of Chicago's buildings and history