June 10, 2004
The T11 meeting was in Chicago the week before my nephew Cody's high school graduation so I combined up the trips. The T11 meeting was in the old Carbide and Carbon building, which has been refurbished
into the Hard Rock Hotel Chicago. I booked too late to stay there so I went to the Inn of Chicago, a Best Western dump. It was cheap though.
I took the CTA in from the airport. The downtown stations could use some refurbishing. There are few escalators or elevators.
I had to walk past the Tribune and Wrigly buildings and over the river to get to the Hard Rock. It was a nice walk. Chicago doesn's seem as crowded and cramped as New York.
Chicago is much more prosperous than when I was a kid. Everything west of Michigan was a disaster area. Today it is condos and bars. The Playboy building is now the Palmolive Condo. I didn't see any evidence of Playboy anywhere.
December 22, 2003
Back to the Museum
I took my nephew Wally to the Museum of Science and Industry. It used to be free. Now it is expensive. The new parking lot is nice.
The coolest new exhibit is the Toymaker 3000. It is an assembly line for a gyroscope toy. Selecting a color, entering your name and paying the toy is assembled as you watch. We did it three times, once for Wally,
once for his brother Reese, and once for me.
We went in the coal mine, which has been refurbished. We did the whispering gallery and went through the Zephyr.
On the way home we took lake shore drive, so we could look at the big buildings.
September 12, 1998
To the Loop
I had a day to kill on a business trip so I decided to spend a day in Chicago. I turned in my rental car at O'Hare and took the "L" downtown. Chicago has unlimited ride visitor passes. I bought a one day ticket for
$5. The "L" ride from the O'Hare to the Loop took about 50 minutes.
I popped out of the Blue Line station right at City Hall, looked at the Picasso statue in the plaza, then headed for State Street. The new subway entrances on State street are very nice. They have an S shaped glass
canopy over the escalator entrances and an neon red line in the "Red Line" signs. After about a 12 minute wait I caught the Museum of Science and Industry bus.
Museum of Science and Industry
The Museum of Science and Industry was one of my favorite places when I was a kid. I went with my Dad and on school trips. Since I was there last they built a
huge new underground parking lot and refurbished the Burlington Zephyr train that is now inside the parking structure. I was disappointed by the rest of the
place though. It is slowly being emptied out as old exhibits are removed and not replaced. The new exhibits are do not have the density and complexity of the old exhibits. The best new exhibit is an entire 727
airplane attached to the balcony.
Aside from the Coal Mine, the first exhibit that ever opened at the museum, there is little on industry remaining. The Coal Mine hoist no longer turns. There are no machine tools or computers.
The ash tray machine is still there though but now it makes candy dishes. The Lincoln head blown molder from the old Hall of Elements is still there, making the place smell of hot plastic.
I guess that, like World's Fairs, displaying physical items is increasingly archaic. If the place is nothing but computer screens, why go to the museum?
Michigan Avenue and the Hancock Tower
I took the bus back up Lake shore drive through the loop and across the river to North Michigan Avenue. I passed the McCormick convention center on the way.
Several huge new buildings and a giant walkway across Lake shore Drive have been added since I was there last.
I walked up Michigan Avenue
to the Hancock Building. The place sure looks
prosperous. The old I Magnin building has a number of new stores including a Borders books and there are new skyscrapers. I wished I had time to go to the Navy Pier, which was an abandoned wreck the last
time I was in town but it is now an amusement and convention center.
I went up to the top of the Hancock
building, 25 miles visibility. I looked down
on the Navy Pier, Lakepoint Tower, The Loop, and the Playboy Building. I didn't see the big Playboy Sign on the top of the building so it may not be the Playboy building
anymore. I think they moved most of their operations to L.A., where it would fit in better anyway. I once went to the Playboy Club in that building once.
I still think of having a condo in Lakepoint tower as the definition of success.
After sunset large spiders that live on the 95th floor came out and began spinning webs. The food must be plentiful as the spiders were big and numerous.
The night time city is all Sodium orange now. When I first went up to the top of the Hancock Tower the city was mostly Mercury green with just a few dots of orange.
I walked back down Michigan to the "L" back to O'Hare and took the hotel shuttle bus back to my hotel.
Chicago Playboy Club
Many years ago I had dinner at the Chicago Playboy Club. It was right before they closed the original one in the Playboy Building. I think there were only two
people eating and only one bunny serving diners. The busboy would bring everything over and then the bunny would walk over and put it in front of you. It
was kind of pathetic. There was a bunny serving drinks in the bar, which was a nice room decorated like a library. I think there also was a bunny by the door to
let people in. It was winter time. She had a fur lined outfit. The place was all in late 1950's modern, which was when the place opened.
Club members got a free copy of the magazine if you came to the club. They had a rabbit head punch to punch out the month box on the member's key card. I used my aunt Dorothy's card which she just kept paying for because my uncle Clyde had it when he died.
The building is now the Palmolive Condos. It was the Palmolive building before Playboy bought it. There used to be a bright beacon on the top to guide flyers
across Lake Michigan. I mignt have considered buying a condo in the building if it was the Playboy Condos, mostly for nostalga sake
Years later the same concept was revived by different people using a country theme instead of a cocktail theme. They called it Hooters. Perhaps Playboy should bring back the clubs as a nostalgia thing.