A Day Exploring Downtown Chicago

Elizabeth Granato

January 16th, 2017

Classes are back in session, but that does not mean you cannot have a little fun on the weekend. On Saturday, my friends and I spent a majority of the day in downtown Chicago and explored a few places that some of us have not been to before. Here are the places that we traveled to.

 

Our first stop was the Chicago Cultural Center. Here you will find numerous art exhibitions, music and theatrical performances, lots of great architecture, and other events all for free. As soon as you walk in the door, your eyes are immediately drawn to a grand staircase situated further back in the building. This staircase continues to be a prominent fixture throughout the building as you travel up and down each level. The first art exhibition we came across was called Spectacular Vernacular and that was done by artists Parsons & Charlesworth. The exhibit featured many miscellaneous items including mugs, pots, suitcases, etc. spread out on a huge white table.

 

 

 

 

Our next stop was a little hallway that had a bunch of pieces of white paper with writing on them. Above the shelf holding the papers, there were three questions that people could answer and one of them asked what inspires you. I found it interesting to see what inspires others and what their interpretation of inspiration is. Moving along, we came across two fascinating structures. The first one was a steel structure called Passage and that surrounded you as you walked through a hallway. The structure twisted at the bottom and reached all the way up to the ceiling. This was a very visually pleasing art piece. The second fascinating structure was located out a window that you could few on various levels of the building. This work of art was called the Piranesi Circus and it contained ladders, rope bridges, and boarded walkways. Unfortunately, one of the most famous and viewed parts of the center, the Tiffany Dome, was blocked off for a private event. A little something to keep in mind is to plan your trip in advance if you are going to see a specific exhibition, performance, etc. There were quite a few rooms or areas closed for either private events or possibly changing out exhibits; calling ahead would be a great idea. Overall, if you are into the arts or architecture, this is the place for you.

 

It was pretty cold outside on Saturday and made walking around outside a little troublesome. Thanks to a suggestion by one of my friends, we traveled through the Pedway, which is an underground network of tunnels, walkways, and passages that spans roughly about 5 miles. Throughout the Pedway, there are shops, restaurants, and CTA and Metra stations that you can access. Making your way around the city this way, especially in the winter, makes traveling around certain areas more convenient and avoiding all of the annoying traffic is a plus. Eventually, we made it to Block 37, which is basically a mall. While traveling through Block 37, we came across the Chicago Design Museum. This free museum showcases various installations. The current installation there is called City of Ideas: Architects’ Voices and Visions and runs until February 25. This showcase displays projected images and quotes on a screen and on the floor that show the works of international architects. This project is curated by Vladimir Belogolovsky, the founder of the New York-based Intercontinental Curatorial Project who organizes, curates, and designs architectural exhibitions around the world. In the museum, half of it features the exhibition and the other half contains different objects such as shirts, books, and paintings that you can purchase. For more information regarding the museum, visit their site here.

 

You cannot explore on an empty stomach and being in a city like Chicago, you will never go hungry with all of the great restaurants throughout the area. I wanted to find somewhere that I have never eaten at before and I came across a restaurant that had some great reviews. Elephant & Castle is a British-inspired restaurant and pub with a cozy atmosphere. This restaurant has two locations in the city, one on Adams St., and the other on Wabash Ave. Since we were primarily in the same area most of the day, we went to the location on Wabash. The décor was simple and went really well with the theme of the restaurant. There were brick walls, numerous pictures hung up that featured British-related things like a double-decker bus, the royal guards, and even John Lennon posing in front of The Statue of Liberty. The décor would not be complete without of course, little elephant figurines placed on top of the large fireplace. The menu contained your typical bar foods: burgers, sandwiches, wraps. There were obviously traditional British classics like bangers and mash, shepherd’s pie, stuffed Yorkshire pudding, among others. One thing that I was surprised to see on the menu was poutine, which they give a few different ways that you can enjoy it. I ordered the bacon wrapped meatloaf which was really good. It was four small sliced pieces of bacon wrapped meatloaf that came with a side of garlic mashed potatoes and a seasonal vegetable, which happened to be green beans. The portion size was great and you get your money’s worth. It cost me $14 dollars which may seem pricey to some people but I can assure you that it is worth it. I would give this restaurant five stars based on food, atmosphere, and service. I highly recommend this restaurant to anyone who is looking for a unique dining experience.

 

 

 

A night would not be complete without overlooking the beautiful city. To cap off the evening, we visited my friend’s aunt and uncle’s apartment which was located right by Maggie Daley Park. Here we were able to go out on their balcony and take in the amazing sights 18 stories up in the air. You can overlook the city at many other locations throughout the town, we were just lucky enough to view it in a different setting. Overall, the day was fun and it was great to experience the city in a new way by exploring new places.

 

Elizabeth Granato

Senior Features Editor

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