Other Chicago Visions

Not all my attention was focused on the grandkids.  When possible, I would drift away from our little entourage when something caught my eye…


Maggie Daley Park

Today’s adventure:
Maggie Daley Park
337 E. Randolph St.
Chicago, IL 60601

After a fantastic Saturday afternoon at the library, we returned to downtown Chicago on Sunday to visit Maggie Daley Park.  For more information about the park, visit here.  The last time I wandered around downtown Chicago, I did not know about this park and probably wouldn’t have stopped there anyway, as I had no children with me.  But, with grandchildren in tow, off we went again via the Metra to downtown and then the long walk to the park.  Our route took us past the Millennium Gate, also known as the “big bean”, a sculpture that always draws a big crowd.  Once past the gate, we took the BP Bridge over the traffic to the play park.  For those who have not been to Chicago, the parks along the lake are all worth a visit. There are wonderful scenic views of Lake Michigan, the Chicago skyline and sculptured architecture everywhere. Bring your camera!
Upon arriving at the park, the kids went crazy, this is one of the most amazing play parks I have ever seen.  There are soft rubber trails, areas that are age specific and wonderfully creative play spaces.  There’s everything from slides to an enchanted forest.  There are water features, towers, boats, bridges and picnic tables.  All this is sandwiched between views of the lake and downtown.  Pick a nice day, bundle up the kids or grandkids, and go experience this wonderful play area in downtown Chicago.

Play Day at the Library

Harold Washington Library, Downtown Chicago

The weather forecast was for mostly cloudy and a chance of rain so it seemed like a good day to pack lunches and take the Metra train to downtown Chicago and visit the library.  We had been told that the children’s library was worth the trip, and indeed it was.  The children’s area is as large as some of the branch libraries back home in Duluth.  They not only have a huge selection of books for readers of all ages, they also offer a play area, computers just for kids, interactive displays and more.  One interesting display involves a hunt for clues for various children’s stories.  Inside a large clear box is a house and yard populated with bits and pieces that are hints of what story the items are from.  It’s fun to see how many you can recognize, but if necessary, there is a cheat sheet you can use to find the more challenging clues or clues from books you may not have read.
What we didn’t know when we planned our excursion, and what turned out to be an incredible highlight of the adventure, was that the library was trying something new in their ninth floor atrium called Play Day.  Play Day was an amazing assemblage of things for kids of all ages to use for creating, playing, and learning.  There was homemade play dough, sandboxes, loads of cardboard, cup stacking, a music corner and a separate room for Legos.  The event was staffed with wonderful volunteers who did a great job of wandering around and insuring that everyone was having a good time, usually by joining with the kids or assisting with a creation.  Parents were encouraged to play right alongside the kids, and most did, I know we did.
My wife and I want everyone at the library to know that the event was a huge hit with our grandkids and, it seemed with all who attended and joined in the fun.  Our thanks go to all involved, the organizers, the volunteers and those who may have donated supplies for the event, it was phenomenal.  We heartily encourage the library to do more of these in the future and if we are in Chicago when they do, we will make a point to attend with our grandkids.  We also look forward to seeing our creation, Robbie Roboty, if it’s on display in the library.
I hope the images help to illustrate the amount of fun that was available that afternoon.  By the way, the library building itself is worth the visit.

The Hardware Store in Blue Island, IL

During my recent trip to the Chicago area I had to take drastic measures after being locked out of the house.  I had to gain entry by breaking a small basement window, which allowed me to turn the latch and open it so that I could crawl in.  First problem solved, new problem created: broken window to fix.  Not being from the area, I had to locate a hardware store that would be nearby, able to cut glass and have glazing and tuck points.  And, there was the question of would a locksmith have been cheaper?
Turns out buying the materials and doing it myself was the best option. Total cost: $8.60!  Plus my labor.  Finding the hardware store was probably the hardest part of the process.  It was tucked away in a difficult to find neighborhood that is part of the old Blue Island area.  Jeben’s Hardware is hidden away on the south side of the Calumet River on Old Western Ave in a wonderful old building that is dated 1894.  The building is only part of the charm of this place.  First you need to take time to look in the windows, they have a sampling of hardware history on display.  Going inside will blow you away, especially if you love a good hardware store.  One display as you enter is an exhibit of all manner of tools and whatnot in a beautiful wood and glass case.  The main part of the store feels very much like it probably did in the early part of the 20th century.
Besides the hardware store, there is also a fantastic restaurant next door that I highly recommend, The Maple Tree Inn.  Try the Voodoo Nuts!  It’s an area that I hope to go back and explore more fully when I don’t have a window to fix, capped off with a cold beverage and some Voodoo Nuts.  Plus take time to check out the Irish Saloon and the Latin Rhythm Lounge across the street.

Anticipating the Windy City

For the moment, all I can think about is which school I need to be at next.  High school sports are in full swing and I’m driving all over the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area, often shooting several games an evening.  In the spring it was track, softball, baseball and lacrosse.  This fall it’s volleyball, soccer and football.  Due to road construction, I need to allow extra time to get anywhere in the city these days.  At least by the time I am returning from a shoot, traffic has thinned out.  In between shoots and uploads, my mind is thinking about next month’s trip to Chicago.  I’ve been going back through my images from previous trips looking for places to revisit, which then reminds me of places not visited.  It has also reminded me that most of those images are of inanimate objects, that very few have people in them.  Street photography is a challenge I have yet to overcome, but I can’t think of a more interesting place to work on that challenge.  But, I’m sure I will also continue to seek out the abstract of the cityscape as I have in the past.  It’s hard to not be attracted to the colors, the massive sheets of glass and variety of architecture.  Of course, sometime in late October, this blog will highlight my discoveries.  Till then…