Route 66 update:  Canyon Creek (and we) make the news again

Hello again, fellow roadies!  Okay, so we weren’t surprised that our posts about the Hancock building’s TILT experience or the Sears Tower’s Ledge were so popular, given that those tourist sights are plenty popular on their own.  But the one about charming little Canyon Creek — ?  Who knew that there were so many people out there who cared about the fate of a previously nameless little rivulet that was no longer a name-orphan?  WOW.  Let’s hear it for natural waterfalls and cascades!  For that matter, a big shout-out to Wilderness and Mother Nature.

The Darien area Suburban Life newspaper’s Danny Ciamprone was the first to cover the story, back in May.  This time, the Chicago Tribune’s Suburban Trib west suburban bureau caught up over the July 4th weekend, thanks to freelancer Joan Cary.  We’re grateful to both papers for the coverage, but really, our thanks go to the U.S. Board of Geographic Names for accepting our proposed names.  Now, Canyon Creek, its east and west branches and its cascade and waterfall can be known to all.

Canyon Creek Falls  (Photo copyright 2014 by M.R. Traska; all rights reserved)

Canyon Creek Falls, Waterfall Glen FP  (Photo copyright 2014 by M.R. Traska; all rights reserved)

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Route 66 quick update: Lagunitas-Chicago grand opening, tour hours

In case you don’t follow Lagunitas Brewing Company’s CEO, the Chicago born-and-bred Tony Magee on Twitter, tonight is the new Douglas Park brewery’s grand opening for its tap room & beer sanctuary at 1843 S. Washtenaw Ave. in Chicago.  The tap room entrance is through a cool high-tech, LED-lit tunnel that has programmable colors.  Yowza!  Should be quite a party — there’s a live band scheduled, but you never know:  Magee’s own garage band, Alice Drinks The KoolAid, may jam as well (the group played one of the side stages during the recent Chicago Blues Festival).  Tour hours for the new brewhouse, meanwhile, are Wednesdays through Sundays, 11am-9pm.  Mondays and Tuesdays will be reserved for private parties, charity events, etc.

Lagunitas-Chicago has the largest brewery in the state now, which has resulted in the creation of thousands of local jobs, says a very happy Gov. Pat Quinn, who was at the chain-cutting ceremony last week.  The brewery is over on the former Ryerson Steel campus, in a warehouse under long-term lease from Cinestage Chicago, a rentable film production facility that shares the campus.

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Route 66 history:  interior artwork of Old St. Patrick’s Church dazzles the eye

Part 2 of 2  (read Part 1 here)

A renovation and restoration of the original interior of Old St. Patrick’s Church, undertaken by Booth/Hansen & Associates and mostly completed by 1996, once again made the interior very similar to the one that artist Thomas A. O’Shaughnessy had envisioned, but not identical.  Unfortunately, much of the glorious interior stenciling with its intricate interlace ornament was covered with paint over the years.  The paint job supposedly happened 1945-1946 because the pastor at that time, a Father Byrne, thought the interior too dark and wanted to lighten it up and make it more modern.  A mistake, in hindsight, at the expense of some of the artist’s work; and in any case, the neighborhood, too, was severely deteriorating by then, and St. Patrick’s itself was in danger of demolition.

In 1993, restorers began carefully scraping away the ill-advised paint and uncovering the stencils.  However, they could not repair or duplicate all of the deteriorated stencils accurately without inordinate expense (and the restoration was quite expensive as it was: $9 million, with $1 million of that in matching funds donated by Chicago financier, philanthropist and preservationist Richard H. Driehaus).  So, the restorers had to take motifs directly from the source of the artist’s inspiration to replace what they could not reproduce.  Now, the design of every individual ceiling panel in the church is taken from a different page of the Book of Kells.  The resulting stenciling is in harmony with O’Shaughnessy’s remaining work and the stained glass.

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Route 66 review:  Old St. Pat’s Church is a remarkable piece of Chicago history

Part 1 of 2

So you’re expecting to attend the 30th annual World’s Largest Block Party in front of Old St. Patrick’s Church on Desplaines Street this weekend on June 27th and 28th, are you?  Better make sure you have tickets in advance – it’s quite the shindig.  While you’re there, you might want to take a closer look at the church itself.  From the street, of course – the church will likely be closed during the block party.  But it’s worth coming back in daylight to see the breathtaking Celtic Revival interior.  You won’t find such an Irish-looking church anywhere else outside of Ireland.  Besides, it’s an invaluable piece of Chicago history,  being the oldest remaining church building in the city and one of the city’s oldest public buildings still standing.

St. Patrick’s doesn’t reveal much outside.  It was designed by Carter & Bauer, one of Chicago’s earliest architectural firms.  The main structure was completed in 1856, the spires in 1885.  The exterior is of Cream City common brick, made from yellowish clay found along the shores of Lake Michigan near Milwaukee.  The base is of Joliet limestone, a good choice to go with the yellow brick, given the dolomite’s creamy color.

Old St. Pat's - 1, cropped - blog (MRTraska)

Old St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, designed by Asher Carter and Augustus Bauer, was constructed when the parish was a decade old.  (Photo copyright 2014 by M.R. Traska; all rights reserved)

It’s not the original structure used when the parish was founded in 1846 at Randolph and Desplaines streets.  That tiny wooden structure was used for a decade and was moved to this block when the parish bought property here in 1853.  This was the first English-speaking Catholic parish in Chicago; the first Catholic parish in Chicago, St. Mary’s, was built by the French.  St. Patrick’s Parish was created for Irish immigrants – laborers who came to work on the Illinois & Michigan Canal and those fleeing the Great Hunger that followed the notorious potato famine of 1848 in Ireland.  St. Patrick’s became a home to Irish culture.

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Route 66 updates:  Chicago’s looking better, Lagunitas-Chi brewpub opens and more

Who knew that Chicago would be getting so much attention lately?  First TripAdvisor’s consumer reviewers’ poll judges Chicago #2 among best destinations in the U.S. and #18 among world destinations.  Then we score again on three other TripAdvisor rankings!  The bean-shaped CloudGate sculpture by Anish Kapoor in Millennium Park ranked #6 among the Top 10 U.S. Landmarks, whereas Millennium Park itself ranked #3 among the Top 10 U.S. Parks and a surprising (and gratifying) #4 among Top 10 World Parks, ahead of places like the Luxembourg Gardens in Paris (which only ranked 10th)!  Whoa — and how timely:  this summer’s special activities in Millennium Park, many of which are free, honor the park’s 10th anniversary.

Anish Kapoor's scupture CloudGate reflects the city's skyline at dusk in Millennium Park.  (Photo courtesy of the City of Chicago)

Anish Kapoor’s sculpture CloudGate reflects the city’s skyline at dusk in Millennium Park; and in a pinch, it can also shelter people from a storm.  (Photo courtesy of City of Chicago dept. of tourism)

Now the business magazine Fast Company tells us that a British real estate management and investment research group analyzed 50 cities around the globe to determine the 10 Most Resilient Cities in the World — and Chicago ranked #4 behind three Canadian cities, Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary (i.e., we’re the most resilient of all U.S. cities, and New York didn’t even make the list!).  Mind boggling.  But we’re glad somebody finally noticed us (maybe the park(s) had something to do with it, you think?).

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Route 66 updates:  Berwyn’s Cigars & Stripes gets a new sign; some local Route 66 history

Surprise, surprise — while keeping up with our Route 66 tweets last week, we noticed via Ron Warnick’s Twitter feed that one of our fave Mother Road barbecue spots in the metro area, Cigars & Stripes BBQ Lounge in Berwyn, IL, got new signage.  Have to say this:  When Ronnie Lottz does something, he really goes BIG.  So of course, yours truly had to stop by and take a gander.

I caught it on a rainy day (sigh …), but the shot still worked, thank heavens.  It seems lately that any time I want to shoot something in the ‘burbs and try to schedule it in advance, hoping for sunshine, it rains or clouds over.  You’d think Chicago had suddenly become Seattle or something (much rain in May and June here, but no flooding and better than drought, eh?).  Nevertheless, Ronnie’s stuff stands out — and together with his Route 66-themed mural on the side of the building, it’s sure to be a hit.

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Route 66 updates:  The Ledge cracks, The TILT gets noticed, Chicago Blues Fest, Grant Park concerts, Summerdance & more

My, my, how busy things have gotten in Chicago lately.  No sooner are we past Memorial Day than activity just seems to explode.  Of course, if you’re coming here for a Route 66 road trip, that’s all to your benefit — there are always more things to do here in metro Chicago than there is time to do them.  Isn’t it great to have so many choices?  So much good stuff is doable for cheap or free.  And if you haven’t figured it out yet, there’s no better place to do a lot of this stuff than right out on Chicago’s lakefront, with the lake behind you, the park beside you, and the cityscape before you.  Still, that means a plan may be in order, if you want to maximize your time here.

Yesterday, route roadies were all a-Twittering about the latest from the Skydeck at the Sears Tower:  The Ledge (or at least the laminated shielding on the glass floor) cracked and scared the dickens out of some visitors from out west.  EEEEEK!  Even AOL news cribbed a report from Chicago’s WGN-TV midday news.  Well, actually, the pressure-sensitive protective coating on the glass supposedly did what it was intended to do and spider-webbed into cracks to indicate that it needed replacement … then that window box was closed off for maintenance while the other one stayed open.  And safe.  Uh-huh.  Right.  Sure.  Whatever you say.  You go first, okay?  No, I insist.  Really.

The TILT windows at the John Hancock Building, tilted.  (Photo courtesy of

The TILT windows at the John Hancock, tilted.  (Photo courtesy of

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