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Chicago Like a Local Blog

Unique perspectives on the city from the people who live here.

Author: Max Grinnell

Max Grinnell is an urbanologist, writer, and public speaker who has written three books about Chicago. His work has appeared in the Chicago Tribune, the Rough Guides, Frommer's and he's been a guest numerous times on National Public Radio to talk about all things urban. As a graduate of the University of Chicago, he has a particular fondness for Hyde Park. You can keep up with Max and his musings via Twitter (@theurbanologist) and his website: www.theurbanologist.com 

A Weekend At the Loews Chicago in Streeterville

Thursday, December 7, 2017 9:00 AM by Max Grinnell

Chicago continues to add wonderful hotels at a dizzying place and the Loews Chicago is certainly one of the finest new arrivals to this cornucopia of hospitality. With its glassy surfaces and architecture reminiscent of Walter Gropius’s Tribune Tower competition the building sets a wonderful contemporary tone for a weekend of play or rest.

It’s curious to think that in the mid-19th century, the Union Stock Yard Gate once was the last thing that millions of animals saw as they were led to their slaughter for use as meat products and various other sundry goods. Today, visitors to this city landmark will only encounter rumbling trucks belonging to nearby companies such as the Royal Envelope Corporation, Aramark Uniform Services and the Superior Nut & Candy Company.

Chicago's Year of Public Art rolls on with an exciting addition to the already amazing diversity of programs, talks, and of course, compelling new public art installations. Kerry James Marshall, the celebrated contemporary artist is bringing a massive new piece to the Chicago Cultural Center over the coming weeks — and at 132 by 100 feet — it will be nothing short of epic.

Even the most die-hard urbanologist could never possibly visit all of Chicago’s distinguished buildings in two, three, or four lifetimes. It would be a formidable task, indeed. Fortunately, there is a weekend of great repute that happens to afford wonderful access to over 200 buildings that would make any student of architecture envious.

If you haven’t been to Rogers Park in some time, you know have a number of new reasons to jump on the Red Line (or the Metra) and make your way up to this diverse and dynamic North Side neighborhood.

Located in a chic new building where State and Rush converge in the city’s Gold Coast neighborhood, Maple & Ash continues to receive attention as one of the city’s compelling new steakhouses, with an outside seating area that draws looks from passers-by and a menu curated by Chef Danny Grant that has received thoughtful accolades from all corners.

What makes a great public transit facility, you ask? I'd say it is a well-lit space to wait for the next train, combined with compelling architecture, public art, and easy access for people with physical handicaps.

Such a station now graces the eastern side of the Loop 'L' trains, as the stunning Washington/Wabash Station opened for use by visitors and Chicagoans on August 31, 2017. It’s the first new station in the Loop since 1997, and rave reviews continue to come in from architectural magazines, transit wonks, and a range of other outlets.

As we continue to support Chicago's Year of Public Art, I thought of Chicago's Fabulous Fountains, which happens to be a new book by local author Greg Borzo. Greg has written about a vast range of Windy City topics over the years, and he's one of the go-to experts when people want thoughtful commentary on such matters. I reached out to Greg to ask him a few questions about his favorite fountains and how these unique objects contribute to Chicago's public art landscape. 

Look Up and Enjoy Override!

Saturday, September 2, 2017 8:00 AM by Max Grinnell

Chicago’s Year of Public Art rolls on with the OVERRIDE project, which brings together a range of artists from Tokyo to Los Angeles who worked in the world of billboards. While most people might not think of billboards as a way to convey a range of artistic ideas, this cadre of talent welcomes the challenge and the visibility of such urban adornments.

The Art Institute of Chicago always knows how to bring together artists in ways that are thoughtful and whimsical, inviting conversations across artistic styles, periods and mediums. Currently, there are two adjacent exhibits that bring together the work of Saul Steinberg and Cauleen Smith, and they are both delightful.

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