On Sunday I had a badly needed adventure in the form of Open House Chicago, which was put on by the Chicago Architecture Foundation. The Open House is a free event that opened up more that 150 buildings in Chicago and offered behind the scenes access to many parts of these buildings that are normally closed to public view.
When I was exploring London one of the many things I noticed was that I was often surrounded by other tourists. While I was busy climbing on the Lions in Trafalgar Square and running around the Tower of London regular Londoners were going about their everyday lives. When I came home the situation was quickly reversed. I live just outside of Chicago, and I’m in the city at least once a week, but I often run back and forth between my various activities only occasionally glancing at everything else around me. I’ve lived near Chicago most of my life, but I understand London in a much more fundamental way despite having only lived there for three months.
Open House Chicago allowed me to (partially) change that. By providing me the chance to wander around the city all day and go to many places that I had never been to before I was finally able to feel like a tourist in Chicago and gain a much different appreciation and view of the city.
I wandered around the recently renovated Monroe Building, the Pritzker Military Library and the vacant former home of the Chicago Motor Club.
Explored the McCormick Bridgehouse & Chicago River Museum and the Seventeenth Church of Christ Scientist. Viewed the Tiffany glass in the Chicago Cultural Center. Climbed to the top of the MDA Chicago City Apartments and got a wonderful (and new) view of the city.
The day left me with a new understanding and appreciation for Chicago. I only managed to cover six different locations, but I will be sure to come back next year to continue exploring. In the meantime I know that I will look up and appreciate the buildings more frequently and understand my way around the city much better than I had before.