Chicago architecture in the shining sun is a kaleidoscope of mirrors, metals, stone and bright blue sky with white clouds. Instantly recognizable skyline with it’s iconic flat faced buildings; Its peaks and its points all pierce the summer sky and point the way to the sunlight.
I moved away from my farmurbian town of Plainfield, Illinois in 2016. I relocated to Santa Clarita, California near Los Angeles, trading my Midwest winters and tornados for wildfires and earthquakes. Working inthe Loop about 15 years, trudging from Union Station through the skyscraper lined streets, I never fully appreciated until after I had gone.
How To Experience Chicago Architecture
So, if you’re a first-time visitor, or a life long Chicagoan, there are four things you must do. First,you must go on a Chicago Architecture Boat Cruise. Without the hustle and bustle of the streets, you can move back to gain a new perspective. Views from the lake or river to let you appreciate the full profile and shape of the buildings.
Second, see the sights from above. One option is from one of the world’s tallest buildings: The Willis Towe. This is a must-see to experience the architecture from the unique perspective amongst the clouds. Or, catch the skyline from on top of the Navy Pier Ferris Wheel.
Then, take a ride on the “El” train. The elevated subway weaves into, under and amongst the buildings. It is not only a great way to get around the city, but to also see it.
It’s required to stroll the Magnificent Mile to see the buildings up close and marvel at their history and detail.
The Best Way to Appreciate Chicago Architecture Is…
Under the shining sun. See the glass and steel reflect back up at you in the mirrored surface of the Chicago River and Cloud Gate in Millennium Park.
The Chicago River Tour
The Chicago architecture melted and disappeared from he reflections of the river and the bright blue sky. The shining sun reflected the windows into windows into windows, gleaming glass against steel. The brick buildings further contrasted lined next to cut angles of glass, stacked between brutalism boxes. Amongst it all, iconic landmarks like hidden clues popped up against the backdrop.
We chose Shoreline Sightseeing Chicago Architecture River Cruise. It was rated 5 stars, and I have to agree with that recommendation. The guide was funny, personable and extremely knowledgable in answering questions. I cannot recall his name, but he really made the tour enjoyable. If you choose to go on any boat tour, I recommend bringing sunscreen and water, wear a hat and sunglasses. Try to sit under the canopy, but in the first row or along the side to have an unobstructed view.
Watch as the massive buildings seem to melt into a transparent mirage in the sky.
Millennium Park, Crown Fountain and Cloud Gate
Millennium Park is another playground of mirrors, metals and reflections. Unlike the tall, organized boxes of the Loop, Millennium Park is sprawling mass of art shapes, sculptures and structures. The unique areas still reflect the city scenes surrounding them, but not in the hard, formative experience we had on the river. The park creates a surreal, dreamlike landscape that seems to go out in all directions instead of up.
The bean shaped structure is the centerpiece of Millennium Park. Although it’s hard to miss66 feet long, 42 feet wide, and 33 feet high, it too, can disappear. The mirrored surface reflection is a fantastic opportunity to capture selfies with the skyline in the background.