Thursday, June 30, 2011

Day in Chicago, part 1 of 5--Chicago Cultural Center

We had a wonderful day yesterday. One of the members in my yoga class is a docent for an architectual tour organization in Chicago. She offered to lead us on a tour, and we jumped at the chance. About half the class was able to go. She was a wonderful guide, and we had so much fun! It was planned to be about 2 hours... we were down town for about 4 hours.

I took almost 100 pictures! That is why I am going to split my conversation into 5 (!) posts.

We took the South Shore train. I had never been on the South Shore, so I was interested in that new experience. We were a group of 7, with one of us in a wheel chair because of a procedure. The trip was very easy.

We arrived on Randolf street and took the pedway to an elevator that brought us right into the Cultural Center. I had been in the building before, but I never "saw" it.

The building was built shortly after the 1893 World Fair, by some of the same people involved in that extravaganza. It was the home of the Chicago Public Library. The first room we went to was the GAR Hall. It originally held Civil War memorabilia and items.


The dome is gorgeous! I could not get a picture of the whole thing, because the center has been restored, and is a lot brighter than outer area. This first picture is the whole dome. The center is over-exposed.


This is the center area. I will have to look up the name of this stained glass artist... I did not take notes (I was too busy taking pictures!).


In the hall there are all the names of the battles of the Civil War engraved on green marble. (I am so ashamed to admit I don't even recognize most of them!)


I this area the mosaic floors were catching my attention. These are such lovely and interesting patterns!



Then we went over to Preston Bradley Hall. The radio station I often listen to sponsors lunch-time concerts in Preston Bradley Hall, and I never knew where it was. It used to be called the delivery room, because when you used the library you would request your book at a big desk, and a librarian would go fetch it from the closed stacks and it would be "delivered" to you from the corner.

This room is amazing! The ceiling was covered with mosaic. There are sayings about reading and wisdom in many languages spelled out in mosaic, in Latin, Spanish, French, Chinese, Arabic, Egyptian, Greek, and German.

The colors are just so lovely! In the archways there are names of authors. These are English authors. At the front door there were all the Greek and Roman authors, and then, by the steps were all the American authors.

On the stairs I was able to get a close-up of some of the mosaic work. Isn't this just lovely!

In this hall the dome is a Tiffany dome. This one has been completely restored, and is so beautiful. The symbols around the center are the zodiac symbols.

Our guide said that during the 1980's (known as the "decade of destruction") the City of Chicago wanted to demolish this building! The first Mrs. Daley was against that, and was successful in saving it.


Laura B said...

How beautiful. Glad Mrs. Daley knew what a gem this is.

Pat Winter said...

Love the colors in the detailed close ups. Can you imagine demolishing that beauty? Crazy people! Thanks for sharing. Looks like a great day out.

Moonsilk Stitches said...

I'm pretty sure the dome is Tiffany. I spent my high school years going to this library--I'd come down on weekends using my dad's train pass. That gorgeous dome was covered over for many years--to hide the deterioration. But the mosaics and GAR museum have "always" been here (always in my personal history). This building, along with Field's and Sullivan's Carson's building especially, greatly affected my aesthetics. They're still the "center of my world."

Lelia said...

As I recall, there are two domes -- one by Healy and Millet, other by tiffany --- i forget which is which.