Route 66 roadies:  indoor tours this Thursday on the route, thanks to CAF

Greetings, Route 66 roadies!  Whatcha doin’ this coming Thursday??  That would be December 11th.  Really:  aren’t you tired of people whining about how you can only see the northern end of Route 66 in the summer?  SO untrue!!  Everyone complains about the weather, but you can still tour the route if you’re clever.  “Make no little plans, for they have no magic to stir men’s blood,” as the great Daniel Burnham said, and work in two or three the same day.  And stay nice and dry, too, for the most part.  Genius!

If you’re in Chicago, there are FOUR Route 66 landmarks you can tour indoors this week on Thursday (one at a time!), two of them thanks to the lovely docents of the Chicago Architecture Foundation.  These individual building tours take you places that the general tours (and the general public) don’t get to visit.  Most CAF walking tours run about $15, unless you’re a CAF member (then they’re free; it’s well worth becoming a member if you plan to do more than two tours a year.  Tell Santa you want a membership for Christmas or Hanukkah!).  We hasten to add that we will be starting up CuriousTraveler Tours in 2015, and we’ll be doing all these Route 66 buildings in custom tours as well — but if you’re in town now or coming for the holidays, CAF is your default choice at the moment.

Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago  (photo copyright 2014 by M.R. Traska; all rights reserved)

Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago (photo copyright 2014 by M.R. Traska; all rights reserved)

The Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago at Jackson boulevard and LaSalle Street welcomes your visit to its Money Museum between 8:30am and 5:00pm Mondays through Fridays — except, of course, on bank holidays (heehee!).  It’s free, and you can get a photo of yourself with:

1. With your face as the center of a bill,
2. With a $1M briefcase, or
3. With the display case of $1M in $1 bills (that’s a lot of bills), as opposed to the $1 million piles of $20s and $100s.

Next, just down LaSalle Street, is the Rookery Building, aka just The Rookery, designed by Burnham & Root; according to a Chicago magazine poll a few years ago, it’s Chicagoans’ favorite building in our fair city.  Where  else do you get a combo of Burnham, John W. Root and Frank Lloyd Wright??  Nowhere!!!

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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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Route 66 sights:  living on the (l)edge at the Sears Tower, or Big Willie’s glass-box insanity

Ever have one of those moments when something supposedly brave suddenly felt really crazy-stupid instead?  Yeah, one of those almost-soiled-your-pants moments.  Joe had one of those a few weeks ago when he thought he’d cure his cabin fever with a little trip to the Sears Tower … to see The Ledge.

The Sears Tower, aka Big Willie  (Photo copyright 2014 by J.D. Kubal; all right reserved)

The Sears Tower, aka Big Willie  (Photo copyright 2014 by Joseph    D. Kubal.  All rights reserved.)

[You’ll notice we don’t call it the Willis Tower.  Hah.  We call it by its given name when it was built, as all true landmarks should be known.  Really:  some carpetbagging overseas tenant takes over the building, and they want recognition just for that?  Ego, much??  However, given that we have another tradition here in Chicago of nicknaming certain very tall architectural treasures – as in:  the John Hancock Building is Big John, and the Standard Oil Building is Big Stan (aka the Amoco Building, aka the Aon Center) – Joe pointed out that we could call this one Big Willie.  In honor of (as I interpreted it) the narcissistic d***s who just had to rename it.  That works for me!  But I digress.]

For the uninformed, The Ledge is a big box of clear, hardened, allegedly guaranteed-to-hold-your-weight glass that sticks out of the side of the building at the level of the 103rd floor.  As if it weren’t scary enough to stand next to those big floor-to-ceiling glass windows and feel that particular paranoia-laced flavor of vertigo (the one where you worry about getting too close to the glass lest someone push you through it and you splat down on the street, screaming all the way), The Ledge was created specifically so that people could step out onto it and look straight down.  Oh, f%*#!@$!

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