The demolition of the Sun-Times building was discussed in this post. The building wasn’t the only thing to go, though. The creation of the new tower meant that the street needed to be rebuild around it. Consequently, a section of Wabash Avenue was completely taken apart before being rebuilt. This meant our street became a dead end for a long time. You could walk through on a temporary footbridge that they installed (which was good for seeing what was going on) but road traffic went elsewhere. This made getting a cab a lot harder!
The roadway was elevated, built upon a series of steel girders. The surface was drilled out and the structure taken down. There was a lot of construction for what would ultimately sit under the new roadway and for the access to the new building. Then new supporting structures were erected. Finally, a new roadbed was installed. Before the finish was laid on top of this, you could see the elements that would be contained within it. Drainage elements as well as the central dividers that would be filled with plants could be identified. There was also going to be a concrete pump to support the building construction and the exhaust port for this was built into the new road in the center.
Eventually the new road was completed and the traffic was free to come through again. Since everyone had found new routes, it was actually quiet for quite a while until people got used to having the road available again. Once it was complete, it was quickly hard to remember what it had been like when closed.
Every year in the run up to Christmas, the traders on the Magnificent Mile in Chicago have a parade to get the shoppers interested. The parade has a strong Disney theme to it and attracts large numbers of families with small kids. You might be surprised to know this is not a big deal to me. However, they do finish it off with a fireworks display on the Chicago River and that is something I am happy to see.
Finding a spot to watch them from is something that is not so easy since a huge number of people are already there to see the parade. I had intended to stand on the Wabash Avenue bridge which provides a good view along the river to the display. However, that was not possible since the bridge was full of people looking at the parade, even though it was a long way away. However, dropping down to the river level provided a spot that did not give a good view of the parade but was absolutely fine for the fireworks.
I got set up with two cameras, one for stills and another for video. Rather than take a full tripod setup, I took a couple of Gorillapods to mount on to the railings along the river. This proved to be a good setup. It was flexible, easy to carry and didn’t get in anyone else’s way. One downside is that a tripod does tend to act as a bit of a deterrent to passers by. This setup seemed to encourage people to bring their kids close to my stuff so I had to make sure the kids kept their hands to themselves since their parents didn’t seem bothered about what they were up to.
The Chicago tourist activities have been continuing. Another local attraction I have never been to – and this one has no excuse since I have known about it for ages and it is visible from my window! – is the bridgehouse for the Michigan Avenue bridge.
Chicago has a large number of movable bridges across the Chicago and Calumet rivers. A large number of them are bascule bridges. For those of you not familiar with French descriptions of bridges, bascule bridges are counterbalanced and rotate out of the way using very little power due to the excellent balance. (Bascule is French for seesaw.)
The museum is in the tower at one end of the bridge. It is a pretty small museum but it provides access to the mechanisms that move the bridge. This is something that interests an engineering type like me. I think they could have made things a little better though. There is very little lighting down there so it is hard to make out all of the parts of the machinery. They could also provide a bit more of a guide to this. As a photographer, the amount of fencing in the way is a nuisance but I doubt there is much they could do about that.
As a result of the relatively limited nature of the bridge, the rest of the museum is a history of Chicago, its rivers and the water supply. It certainly provides more to look at and is quite worth a look. There are also some slightly different views of the river. Since it was only $4 to get in, I think it was worth a look. Now to see how I can make some suggestions to them about improvements.