Weekly Photo Challenge: Community


Walking through Chicago history at Graceland Cemetery

Historic Community

I learned about Graceland Cemetery in the Notes section of The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson, where he noted that Graceland is “an utterly charming haven where, paradoxically, history comes alive.” (394) I could not agree more. I took a walk there on a sunny day in early September and loved it. It’s gorgeous and so interesting.

Many of the figures in Chicago history are buried at Graceland on Chicago’s north side. I cannot name them all, but architects like Daniel Burnham, Louis Sullivan, and Mies van der Rohe are buried at Graceland. Marshall Field and Potter Palmer, both famous Chicago businessmen, and the inventors, Cyrus McCormick and George Pullman, are at Graceland too.

Graceland is a different type of community to be sure, but it is a community of people that have accomplished great things, and even though these people were not all contemporaries, their stories are all together at Graceland Cemetery.

Graceland Monuments

Graceland Cemetary Graceland VaultsThanks, Daily Post, for the chance to post again about one of my favorite walks this year as I complete my resolution.

Day Two Hundred Ninety-three

Segway Tours, Bridal Parties, and Great Views

I was in Chicago again today, so I walked around the Museum Campus and Northerly Island, which is actually a man-made peninsula. I really enjoyed exploring the area. We visited the Field Museum of Natural History, the Shedd Aquarium, and the Adler Planetarium often when our older three children were young, but I haven’t been there in years.

In fact, it’s been so long, that the last time I was there, the adjacent Meigs Field was still operating as an airport. In 2003, then Mayor Richard M. Daley tore up the airfield in the middle of the night, without FAA permission, citing security risks and causing quite the stir.

Converting the island into usable green space is still ongoing. A “semi-temporary” outdoor concert center takes up part of the former air strip. The rest of the space needs some work, but a large flock of geese seems to like it as-is. The streets around the museums are much less treacherous, and the parking is considerably better than it was before, so kudos, Mayor Daley…

Museum CampusNortherly Island1Northerly Island does offer some great views of the lake to the east and Soldier Field to the west. It’s a popular place for segway tours; several groups passed me while I was walking around. Along Burnham Harbor, I liked walking near the boats, past folks fishing from the side and piers. I saw American coots in the harbor as well.

Museum CampusNortherly Island2Next, I walked to Solidarity Drive, briefly along the Lakefront trail, and back up the other side of Solidarity Drive. I continued by looking around the Adler Planetarium which sits at the farthest point out into Lake Michigan and makes the Chicago skyline a popular backdrop for photographs. I saw professional photo shoots of families and two wedding parties. I must admit, I did more people-watching at this point than walking!

Skyline weddingsFun spot, good walk!

Weekly Photo Challenge: An Unusual POV

Unusual POVI had a harder time with this Weekly Photo Challenge than I thought I would, but that doesn’t mean that I didn’t enjoy it!

The challenge states:  “Go out and take photos and share a shot that reveals a new and different POV.” I took many pictures on my walks along the Illinois & Michigan Canal (Day 250) and in downtown Chicago on a Sunday (Day 251).

The photo above of the Willis (formally, Sears) Tower peeking out from the vantage point of the Franklin Street Bridge over the Chicago River is my favorite and, hopefully, up to the challenge.

Day Two Hundred Forty-four

Chicago History and Resting Places

IMG_1110Seven or eight years ago, I read Devil in the White City, a book about the 1893 World’s Fair held in Chicago. If you haven’t read the book, I highly recommend it.  It’s a historically accurate nonfiction account that reads more like a great novel. The book shifts back and forth between the planning of the fair, including biographies of its organizers, and the story of the serial killer that preyed upon fair visitors.

The author, Erik Larson, in his end notes gives the following credit:  “Matt Hucke and Ursula Bielski’s Graveyards of Chicago (1999)…led me to Graceland Cemetery, an utterly charming haven where, paradoxically, history comes alive.”

Since reading this, I have wanted to visit Graceland Cemetery.  Today, I did. It is a really beautiful and interesting place where generations of prominent Chicagoans, including business titans, politicians, and influential architects, have been laid to rest. And they did it in style!

The first thing I noticed was all of the obelisks. Among the obelisks are some really impressive monuments, both in size and beauty.

Graceland MonumentsThe grand family vaults also impressed me with their ornate doors and arches.

Graceland VaultsThere are also the understated memorials, including Daniel Burnham’s island grave site surrounded by willows and other plants with a large boulder and simple plaque for a headstone.

Graceland CemetaryI did not have a cemetery map with me, so I just roamed about.  Only one other couple was there, driving around in their car, and I really enjoyed the serenity as I wandered up and down the lanes seeing the beautiful monuments and recognizing that so much of Chicago’s history is resting in one beautiful place.

Day One Hundred Eighty-eight

Chicago Lakefront-South

After hearing recently that George Lucas (yes, of Star Wars’ fame) and his new wife, Mellody Hobson (yes, of TV financial-adviser fame), had their wedding reception at Promontory Point, I thought, “Hey, that might be a good place for a walk!”

Today, we drove up to Hyde Park, a south-side Chicago neighborhood, for a walk along Lake Michigan.  Although I’ve lived in the area for over twenty-five years, I’ve never walked along the lakefront south of Soldier Field.  This area has been redone over the past few years, and it’s really quite lovely.

Lake Shore Path-SouthWe really enjoyed the views of the downtown Loop to the north and the Museum of Science and Industry to the south as we walked.  There was also some nice public art, beautiful wildflowers, and even a butterfly posed for me along the trail.

We would have liked to have walked longer, but it was hotter than we expected.  I guess we’ll just have to go back!

Good day, good walk!

Day Eighty-six

Urban Walk

My youngest son, still on spring break, and I drove into Chicago today and walked across the Loop. My husband took a break from the office and joined us.

East-West Loop

We parked in the Millennium Garage and walked through Millennium Park to catch sight of “Cloud Gate,” a sculpture commonly referred to here as “The Bean.”  I should have known better than to take my son here.  Every time we’ve tried, there is always an unhappy small child or toddler crying in this part of the park, and today was no exception.  We snapped a quick picture and bid a hasty retreat to the urban jungle of honking taxis and business-clad adults–much more tolerable to my son and his autism-caused sensitivities to the sounds of young children.

We met up with my husband on Michigan Avenue and walked west down Jackson Boulevard, walked around the Willis Tower (formerly known as the Sears Tower), crossed the Chicago River, and then headed back east on Adams to my husband’s office and our car.


Although I think my son prefers the quiet of a forest preserve or converted railroad trail, I do think he enjoyed seeing some different sites like the elevated CTA trains, the giant globe in front of the Willis Tower, and the Chicago River.  I certainly did!

Good day, good walk!