Americas, United States, The Midwest

Chicago, the Second City

No Comments 29 August 2010

Chicago, the Second City

Monkey aficionados will already know that the Monkey met his photographer in Chicago, back in 1994 (see the About page for more info). The Monkey lived in Chicago for a number of years, but wasn’t very much into being photographed at that point in his life. That said, he does have a few photos from the Chicago days, and he got many more shots during his July 2003 visit there. Have a look!


Chicago skyline, Chicago, Illinois, United States
Monkey aficionados will already know that the Monkey met his photographer in Chicago, back in 1994 (see the FAQ for more info). The Monkey lived in Chicago for a number of years, but wasn’t very much into being photographed at that point in his life. That said, he does have a few photos from the Chicago days, and he got many more shots during his July 2003 visit there.

Chicagoans are proud of the fact that the skyscraper was invented in their city. Architect William Le Baron Jenney pioneered what became known as the “Chicago skeleton” for his nine-storey (42 meter) Home Insurance Building in 1885 (destroyed 1931). The innovation, which enabled the construction of far taller structures just a few years later, was to build a steel “skeleton” that carried the load (weight) of the building, removing that responsibility from the walls. Using the load-bearing skeleton, interiors became more open, exterior walls could be replaced by increasingly large windows, and structures could soar ever higher.

Jenney’s building was soon followed by a slew of other skyscrapers in a city anxious to rebuild itself after a devastating 1871 fire that destroyed most of the predominantly wooden city, and to make itself known over its more established rival, New York. In fact, Chicago’s famous nickname, “the windy city,” comes not from the weather (though the city can have bone-chilling winds in winter) but from New York’s elites, who saw their burgeoning Chicago counterparts as “windy” in their persistent garrulity promoting the city. Another Chicago nickname referring to its deference to New York has also stuck: the Second City.

Today, Chicago is a sprawling metropolis of 2.9 million people, making it the third largest city in the United States (after New York and Los Angeles). It is home to one of the finest skylines in the world. In this shot, the Monkey rests in downtown’s Grant Park, with a number of skyscrapers behind him. The 346 meter Standard Oil Building (later Amoco Tower, now Aon Center), at the right, was the 12th tallest building in the world, and the second tallest in Chicago, at the time of this photo.

Red high-rise, Chicago, Illinois, United States
The Monkey with another eye-catching, skyscraping Chicago landmark, the CNA Plaza. Built in the modern, or international, style, this 1972 tower is unique for its choice of color: what Crayola crayons might call burnt sienna.

Sears Tower, Chicago, Illinois, United States
At 110 storeys and 442 meters in height, Chicago’s Sears Tower was once the tallest building in the world—perhaps as late as 2004, when Taipei 101 in Taiwan surpassed its roof height and highest floors. But Chicagoans had been grinding their teeth ever since Kuala Lumpur’s twin Petronas Towers rose in 1998, reaching a height of 452 meters, and seemingly claiming the “world’s tallest” title for Malaysia. However, the Petronas Towers reached their height by including 73.5 meter-tall ornamental spires, while below they are only 88 storeys tall inside (meaning their usable space ends at 378.5 meters). These spires were counted toward total height, while the similar antennae atop the Sears Tower (which would extend it beyond the Petronas spires’ height to 527 meters) are arbitrarily excluded by the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat‘s rules.

In fact, there is considerable debate about defining the world’s tallest building. Toronto’s CN Tower, at 554 meters, was much taller than the aforementioned buildings, yet most of it is unusable space (CN Tower is a needle-type construction) and it was thus often called the world’s tallest structure (as opposed to building) in the days of the Sears-Petronas battles. In 2010, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, United Arab Emirates smashed the previous records for buildings proper, with a spiky spindle reaching a height of 828 meters. But the oil industry has repeatedly claimed that offshore oil rigs are the tallest freestanding structures in the world—beyond even the CN Tower or the Burj Khalifa.

At any rate, in the Monkey’s considered opinion, the Sears Tower is still damn tall! It was built in 1973 on a plan by the Chicago-based architecture firm Skidmore, Owing & Merrill, with Bruce Graham in the lead. In yet another example of the tiresome trend of rebranding buildings, in 2009 its name was changed to the Willis Tower. But if you’re ever in Chicago trying to find this building, be sure to ask locals where the Sears Tower is—or run the risk of giving new meaning to the phrase “Whatchu talking about, Willis?”

Monkey with Old Style Beers, Chicago, Illinois, United States
Chicagoans do love their beer, and the Monkey, a former Chicagoan, is no exception. Here he kicks back with a few Old Style beers during his July 2003 visit to Chicago. Though brewed in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the liberal consumption of Old Style has become something of a Chicago tradition.

Near Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Illinois, United States
The Monkey pauses in Chicago’s Grant Park for another shot with some skyscrapers.

Papa Milano, Chicago, Illinois, United States
Papa Milano’s is the Monkey’s favorite restaurant in Chicago. A homey Italian eatery, Papa Milano’s is also home to one of the best waiters the Monkey has ever seen. The waiter, Steven, can remember your name and favorite dish even if it’s been five years since the last time you dined at Papa Milano’s!



This Monkey adventure has been viewed 1381 times since the 2010 website relaunch.

United States

   FAST FACTS


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Population:

303,824,640 (2008)

Land area:

9,161,923 sq. km.

Capital:

Washington, DC (pop: 606,900; 2005)

Economy:

In 2006, the United States ranked 10th in the UNDP Human Development Index and 1st in total GDP, with a per capita GDP of $44,155.00. Public debt accounts for 60.8 percent of total GDP, while 12 percent of U.S. nationals are beneath the poverty line.

Main language(s):

English, Spanish

Monkey's name:

The Monkey, El Mono

Fun fact:

The United States was a pioneer in representative government, though representation has always been limited. At first, only landowning white males could vote. Black males received the vote in 1870, while women of all races had to wait until 1920 for the vote. Even today, the Democratic Party (born circa 1800) and the Republican Party (born circa 1855) exercise a de facto stranglehold on all political institutions—a situation unchanged in over 150 years.



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