A Chicago river cruise for Travel Photo Mondays
Not really knowing much about downtown Chicago, I thought the perfect start would be to take a river cruise as an introduction to see this magnificent city and skyline from a water vantage point. Even though the day was cold and drizzly, I knew that it would be fun to see the city cruising on the Chicago River to see and learn about the architecture and history of Chicago from its early development to present day. So I went to down to the newly created Chicago Riverwalk area where the river cruise boats were ready for the morning tour, definitely one of the most romantic things to do in Chicago.
Chicago’s First Lady Cruises
I signed up for an architectural river cruise on Chicago’s First Lady cruises which is a line of recreated river boats that offers tours and charters around Chicago River and Lake Michigan. The morning cruise gives an excellent history tour of the city with an architectural tour that highlights significant architecture from Chicago’s classical period to contemporary styles that create the skyline of Chicago. Chicago’s First Lady Cruise looks nostalgic in the city like it would be more suited to a getaway outside of Chicago, but in reality fits perfectly as a contrast to the city architecture.
The nice part of taking this tour was the collaboration with the Chicago Architecture foundation – a knowledgeable local architect came on board and showcased all the amazing skyscrapers that are a part of the city’s impressive skyline. I found out that a part of the ticket price supports the architecture learning programs which are an excellent educational part of the river tour.
The architecture of Chicago has been a major influence on American architecture where many of the newly built skyscrapers were started in Chicago. After the great Chicago fire of 1871, many of the prominent buildings from prominent architects of the Chicago School were built along the riverfront downtown area. This created a new era of building and engineering firsts in Chicago including: structural steel frame, tube frame, large exterior glass panels and many of the first modern skyscrapers built in America. Well known architects left their marks on Chicago’s impressive skyline including Mies Van der Rohe, Martin Roche, Daniel Burnham, Louis Sullivan and a host of other important American architects.
Another interesting facet of the Chicago River cruise are the many movable bridges throughout the city. In less that two miles of river frontage, there are over 18 movable bridges that cross the Chicago River in the downtown area. From the river tour, we were able to go under many of the different types of bridges including: the Double leaf, Trunnion, Bascule and the local Chicago type bridge. From our guide, we learn that movable bridges were used primarily on the Chicago River because of the flat and low landscape of the city and the bridges were more practical and cheaper to build in this area.
Here are more photo highlights of the Chicago river tour
In spite of the foggy morning, this really was a nice introduction to visiting Chicago and getting a quick impression of the city, its major monuments and huge skyscrapers that shaped American architecture to what it is today. It was fun cruising in on the Chicago river even though I found it challenging to photograph the city in bad weather. For anyone touring and taking photographs in unruly conditions, take a look at this post I wrote on how to photograph on grey or rainy days here.
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Thanks to Chicago’s First Lady Cruises which hosted me for a tour around Chicago, all thoughts and opinions are my own