We have been visiting Chicago fairly regularly since our son moved here (I'm writing from Chicago at the moment) to attend a most excellent art school (because he is a most excellent artist) in 2016. It was in 2018 that we combined a visit with an academic conference that was held at the Holiday Inn on the Chicago River. It was somewhat nicer than most Holiday Inns, and in a much better location than most. It is in the same place today, of course, but the location is not quite what it was five years ago. The building itself has changed in some interesting ways as well.
|Holiday Inn from Chicago River - taken May 5, 2023|
The bottom of the photo shows the tops of our fellow
First the location. I took this photo yesterday as part of an architecture river tour (If you are visiting Chicago, this is not an option: it is a requirement. Thank me later.) The Holiday Inn is at the center. Zoom in to see the green logo sign on top of it. If the building looks like it is jostled between its neighbors, this is because it is. The building in the foreground were under construction at the time of our visit, but was just a hole in the ground.
When we first arrived back in 2018, a friend had noticed online that I was in Chicago, and suggested I take an architecture boat tour. At that moment, a well-marked tour boat went right under our window -- that is when I realized just how close to the river we were. I took this as a double recommendation and made my way to a tour while Pamela was in a conference session.
Later, we ate in the hotel restaurant about 2/3 of the way up (on the wider level of windows in the photo above) and found an even better view -- the confluence of the river's two main branches:
|Chicago River from Holiday Inn Restaurant, August 2, 2018|
I have not investigated thoroughly, but the view from the river yesterday suggests that there still is a view of the river, but it cannot be this expansive. This would not be the first case of skyscraper one-upmanship and it will not be the last.
And second, I did not forget that I would be mentioning something about the Holiday Inn itself. The hotel occupies only the upper 9 floors or so -- aside from the taller level of the main lobby, these are the narrow bands at the top of the building. When we were staying there, the entire facade below the hotel was entirely granite. NO WINDOWS for about a dozen floors.
This oddity was explained on my 2018 boat tour. The building's other occupant was a company that worked with fabric dyes at a very sophisticated level. They wanted full control over the light in their office, in order to maintain the colors precisely. So they took out a long-term lease on a tower built with NO WINDOWS on the floors they rented.
And then they vacated, ending the lease. The guide on my 2018 tour explained that windows were being cut into the facade, and I think the process might already have started. As my 2023 photo reveals, the process is complete. Just in time for new tenants to enjoy an obstructed view of the river.
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