She offers both public and private walking tours. On a recent balmy winter’s day (by balmy I mean a high of 34 degrees Fahrenheit or 1 Celcius) we found ourselves looking at selective videos on iPads and standing on the ground floor of the Chase Tower building looking out at one of Chicago’s true ‘holdouts’ “Italian Village”, the oldest continuously operating Italian restaurant in the city.
This tiny two story building is sandwiched between and surrounded by vertical behemoths – visibly indicating the defining character of its ownership. And that being the desire to remain in its location regardless of the incredible amounts of money probably offered to the family to sell the property during the 1970’s when the next door neighbor (now a huge skyscraper) wanted to purchase as much land as possible in this area for development. Now in their third generation of ownership, this restaurant is a downtown Chicago institution.
If you just look at this one building you can imagine how this part of Chicago looked many years ago – all the buildings were this size, small and only one or two stories high. It was a much different sized town then than now.Thankful for the 98% of time we spent indoors on this windy cold day we explored some of Chicago’s interiors including the original flagship Marshall Field’s department store (now owned by Macy’s). The Temple Building or “skyscraper church” is one of the tallest churches in the world – it’s original home was a log cabin!
For 16 years a block downtown sat empty, Block 37 – an eyesore in this urban jungle. Today this “block” is home to a modern shopping mall which adjoins the Pedway (an underground pedestrian walkway, connecting a number of businesses and blocks). A must visit is the landmark Chicago Cultural Center and its inspiring interior including an impressive Tiffany designed dome (the largest Tiffany Dome in the world).
Next time you are in Chicago and have some time to kill, check out Chicago Detours: www.chicagodetours.com It will be an educational couple of hours well spent.
Left to Right Below:
1. Tiffany Dome in the Cultural Center
2. Picasso Statue
3, Government building in the “loop”
4. Chicago Street
5. Dome inside Marshall Field flagship store (now Macy’s)