Sunday, September 28
It’s our last day in Chicago. We gathered for an early breakfast because Mary S had to leave on a 10 am flight. It was such a treat to have her here with us. She moved away about 25 years ago, and last joined us for our annual “Opener” weekend twelve years ago, but she will always be a member of our book group.
My son, Sean, had suggested that I visit the Rookery Building, located near the Willis Tower. I had tried to go in a couple of days ago, but was deterred by the signage saying that it was not open to visitors. Sean suggested simply going into one of the shops there, so I headed back there this morning. I did visit one of the shops, and found a few items I couldn’t live without.
I went into the glass-ceilinged lobby, which was beautiful, but really wanted to see more of the staircase. I put on my blinders and walked past all of the signs instructing visitors to stay out, and snagged a few photos before being chased down by the guard. It would be worthwhile to take a guided tour of the building if I come back.
The building was designed by John Wellborn Root and Daniel Burnham, of the firm Birnham & Root, who designed many Chicago buildings. It was completed in 1888, replacing a ramshackle City Hall that had been hastily built after the great fire of 1871. The word, rookery, was applied to that City Hall building. The name may also have referred to the raucous nature of city politics at the time. Some rumors held that crows lived in the previous building’s walls. In any case, the current building’s exterior sports open-mouthed crows (or rooks) that are reminiscent of the squawking of corrupt city officials.
Frank Lloyd Wright redesigned the lobby in 1907, hiding the original copper-plated ironwork with marble. His design included new staircase railings, decorative urns and new light fixtures.
The building was restored in 1988, combining the work of Root and Wright, and adding a 12th floor.
On the way back to my hotel, I walked part of the Chicago RiverWalk. Several boat tours depart from landings along the route, and there are a few restaurants as well. It’s a nice alternative to walking along the busy streets above.
The Heald Monument, above, depicts George Washington, flanked on his right by Robert Morris, and on his left by Haym Salomon, two financiers of the Revolutionary War. The quote is from Washington: “The government of the United States which gives to bigotry no sanction to persecution no assistance requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens in giving it in all occasions their effectual support.”
I reached the Knickerbocker in time to reconvene with my fellow travelers and travel to the airport for our 3:00 flight. It was a wonderful weekend, and discussions were already underway to plan another group trip in two years. I’m keeping my fingers crossed!
I’ve calculated that, during these four days, I walked over 94,000 steps, covering almost 40 miles. Only two blisters, though!