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While no longer the world's tallest building, the Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower) still stands proud. 108 floors are full of mostly offices, but the 103rd floor is home to Skydeck Chicago. Enjoy bird's eye views of Lake Michigan, both the North and South Sides of the city, the surrounding suburbs and, on a clear day, parts of Indiana, Wisconsin and Michigan. The Skydeck Tour also includes a multimedia presentation and an exhibit with information on the Sears Tower and other architecturally significant buildings. Check the website for Skydeck admission information.
The Chicago Fed Money Museum is located inside the Federal Reserve Bank and offers visitors a unique opportunity to learn about the way money is printed and circulated in the United States. The museum is tailored to middle school children but is appropriate for all ages. After seeing a cube containing one million dollars in one dollar bills and old bills and coins, visitors can even leave with a bag of money that has been shredded!
Union Station is although not the travel hub it once was, this station is a must-see for those interested in Chicago architecture. The grand hall is breathtaking with giant Roman columns sweeping up to the ceiling, as statues glare down upon the rows of benches and the busy commuters below. Union Station is currently home to both Amtrak and the Metra commuter trains. The Amtraks head all over the country, while the Metra lines snake throughout the suburbs to such places as Brookfield Zoo, the Chicago Botanic Garden, Ravinia Park and the riverboat casinos. Timings vary, open according to train schedule.
Legend has it that the Rookery Building got its name because birds liked to roost atop the structure that formerly sat on this site. John Root created this building, arguably Chicago's most beautiful work of architecture, in 1888. The Rookery's interior received a major renovation in 1905 by another great architect, Frank Lloyd Wright. In the 1980s, the building was threatened by developers looking to make way for a more modern facility. Thankfully, it was quickly declared a national landmark and is now prohibited from being torn down.
Capping the end of LaSalle Street and all of its neoclassical buildings is the imposing art deco tower of the Chicago Board of Trade. Built in 1930 by Holabird and Root, this is the second Board of Trade building to be constructed on the site. (Its predecessor, was designed by William W. Boyington in 1885 when traders' needs outgrew the building's space.) High atop the building is a statue of Ceres, the Roman god of wheat, glorifying the largest futures market in the world. Due to heightened concern regarding terrorist attatcks, the CBOT Visitor Center is closed to the public, however pre-arranged visits are available.
This statue by Ludovico de Luigi replicates a similar statue that once stood in front of St. Mark's Basilica on the Piazza San Marco in Venice. In the copy, de Luigi's nine-foot horses are captured in mid-stride with their powerful muscles stretched to capacity. Passersby at One Financial Plaza often stop to observe the piece. Savor any inspiration you receive from de Luigi's interpretation of the Venetian work. Sadly, the original was put into storage, having greatly deteriorated from years of neglect.
Calder's Flamingo stands at 53 feet (16.15 meters) before the Kluczynski Federal Building. Authorized by the U.S. General Services Administration, it is the creation of reputed American sculptor, Alexander Calder. This stabile is bright red in color and is made of steel. It complements the Bauhaus style buildings surrounding it which are in steely black shades. It was unveiled in 1974 and is a major landmark in the Windy City.
Decades of Loop soot have not been kind to the Marquette Building's once reddish, terra-cotta exterior. However, the original grace of the terra-cotta still shines through these blackened, weathered walls. Named after Pere Marquette, who explored the Chicago region in 1674, this building was erected in 1894 for the George A. Fuller Company. Step inside the unusual, octagonal lobby to admire the intricate mosaics that tell the story of Marquette.