Sunday, July 22, 2007

Tour: Architecture Boat Cruise on the Chicago River

Chicago is a city filled with landmarks. From the world's first skyscraper to the founding of an entire school of architecture, Chicago is home to some of the finest examples of buildings in the world.

Your guides are fortunate to have season VIP passes to Chicago Line Cruise and Chicago History Museum's Architectural Boat Cruise along the Chicago River.

Born of the Great Fire, structural steel and an indomitable spirit, skyscrapers were invented here … and we have the best way to see them. Join us for 90 minutes of genuinely tall tales and head-turning sights from the breathtaking vantage point of our cruise deck.

The tour leaves the North Pier terminal & the Ogden Slip and heads towards Navy Pier. Turning through the Basin, the tour then heads up the main branch of the River. The first important examples of Chicago Style of Architecture pass by pretty quickly. These clean lined buildings from the 1970's and the 1980's are perfect examples of what became the Chicago Style of Architecture.

Continuing westward, the scenery of Downtown Chicago passes almost too quickly for comprehension. Just sit back and enjoy the sights of Michigan Avenue, the banks of Wacker Drive and famous skyscrapers like the Trump Tower (currently under construction) and the Marina Towers.

You don't really have to pay attention until you reach Wolf Point - where the river splits into the North Branch and the South Branch. The most important lesson in the tour contrasts the styles of post-modernism with contextualism as relates to the Sun Times Building (a.k.a. The Apparel Center) and the blue-glass high rise across the river that echoes the curve of the river and the surrounding buildings.

Up the North Branch and hear about the legacy of Chicago's great mail order shops and view the enormous old warehouses of Montgomery Wards.

After turning around and motoring past new construction townhouses, luxury condos and modern high-rises, the tour heads south past Boeing, past Chicago's Lyric Opera House, the Sears Tower and the Riverside Plaza buildings by Skidmore Owings Merrill.

South of the Sears Tower, the boat turns around near the River City Condominiums, a bland yet architecturally significant building by Bertrand Goldberg. Goldberg is well known in Chicago as the architect of the Marina City Towers seen earlier in the tour near Trump Tower. More of Goldberg's designs can be found throughout Chicago's Gold Coast.

Not to brag, but the photo above is notable for what's not there yet: along the river just west of Lake Shore Drive is the site of the Santiago Calatrava designed Chicago Spire. Savills, the international property advisor leading the global sales effort for The Chicago Spire, announced in July that @properties has been awarded the contract to help manage Illinois sales of the iconic residence. The Chicago Spire received final approval from the Chicago City Council in May, and construction is currently underway. Completion of the 2,000-foot tall elegantly twisting tower is expected late 2010.

Just after passing under Lake Shore Drive again, the tour turns back to the dock at North Pier. The Architecture Boat Cruise sponsored by the Chicago History Museum is packed with more info than we covered here, and every time I take the tour, I learn something new. Give us a call if you'd like to take the tour as I hope to ride the boat several more times this season.

More Architecture Boat Cruise photos at Flickr.