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Author Topic: Chicago, November 2011 - Amtrak, CTA, Millennium Park, and a little of Pilsen  (Read 1561 times)

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Offline Robert Pence

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Chicago - November 2 & 3, 2011
Millennium Park, CTA, Pilsen
All Photographs Copyright 2011 by Robert E Pence


Usually I drive to Michigan City and stay overnight, and then take a South Shore train to Chicago in the morning. That's a drive of almost 120 miles and
3 hours from my home in Fort Wayne. Although Amtrak stops at Waterloo, Indiana, only 35 miles and less than an hour's drive away, Amtrak's schedule-
keeping is unpredictable and Chicago hotel rates are about three times those I can get for a decent overnight in Michigan City.

With winter's treacherous driving conditions approaching, I thought I'd try Amtrak again for the first time in about three years. I booked a reservation on
Train #49, the Lake Shore Limited. My train was 47 minutes late at Waterloo, 48 minutes late leaving Elkhart, 52 minutes late leaving South Bend, and
1 hour and 53 minutes late arriving at Chicago's Union Station. During the last part of the trip we were behind another Amtrak train and it was behind a
slow freight. We'd stop and wait, and then get up to 20-30 mph, and then stop and wait again. That went on beginning about Portage, Indiana.

Amtrak Amfleet coach 35104 was comfortable, smooth-riding, and quiet.



Union Station. By my recollection, the lighting in the train shed has been improved since my visit in 2008.





Looking out across the Chicago River.



GE P42DC Diesel-electric locomotive 145 is one of four locomotives painted in earlier Amtrak paint schemes in observation of Amtrak's 40 years of
passenger train operation. Locomotive 145 wears the Phase 3 scheme used by Amtrak from 1979 to 1993; I think it's much more appealing than the
current drab scheme on the locomotive in the following photo.







Metra commuter cars





After checking into the Central Loop Hotel and taking a brief nap, I walked to Michigan Avenue to locate the bus stop that I'd need in the morning. It was
a little more than ten minutes' walk from the hotel.



Next, I went to the El stop on Adams and caught a Pink Line train to 18th Street, to have a look around Pilsen. By the time I got there the light wasn't
optimal for photography but I gave it a try anyway. Starting with a few shots from the station ...













Most of the wall surfaces in the station were decorated with colorful art, and there wasn't a lot of tagging.





















Food aromas along 18th Street are tantalizing.











Instead of paying meters, put your money in this machine or use your plastic, and print a receipt that
you put on your windshield.











The gable-roofed building behind probably predates this facade by many years.



St. Adalbert's Parish was founded in 1874 to serve the Polish immigrants of the Pilsen area, and still
conducts masses in Polish as well as in Spanish to accomodate the many Mexican families who have
settled there. The current church was completed in 1912 at a cost of about $200,000. I didn't go inside,
and after reading a little bit about it, I realize that I should have.











































Back to the El and another look around from the platform before boarding a train back to the Loop.















Adams and Wabash. How I'd love to shoot some HDR night photos from here, but just taking street photos
from the platform is sometimes a tenuous proposition and use of tripods in the stations is strictly prohibited.





It's been a long day for me. I'm going back to my comfy hotel room.







Thurday - all done with the essentials and ready for another photography walkabout, just in time for the cold rain.





Taking these sculptures from concepts to physical works had to have required considerable design and fabrication expertise.







Glimpses of another exquisite example of metal fabrication skills in the realization of art, Anish
Kapoor's Cloud Gate, popularly known as The Bean.











The Nichols Bridgeway, opened in late 2009, is 620 feet long and connects Millennium Park near the Pritzker Pavilion with the third floor of the Art Institute's
Modern Wing. The bridge was designed by Italian Renzo Piano, who also designed the Modern Wing.











Commuter tracks carrying Metra Electric and South Shore trains bisect the Art Institute fifty feet below the bridgeway and enter Randolph Street/Millennium
Station and South Water Street Station beneath Millennium Park.















Better than ever, and always growing! My photography web site

Some people are like slinkies -- not much good for anything, but they bring a smile to your face when pushed down the stairs.

Offline ColDayMan

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Great stuff Rob!
I love it when people come into a message board and immediately begin to mix it up.  I mean, Jesus, at least say hello!  Do you walk into a room full of strangers, pick a random woman, and tell her she's fat? - buildingcincinnati

Offline NorthAndre

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Great set Rob!  Pilsen is one of my favorite neighborhoods.  It represents more of the authentic Chicago neighborhoods with the lack of new construction, high immigrant population, mom and pop stores, great architecture, and community feel.  I love it the way it is.


Oh and Union station platforms now have a ceiling above them!  For awhile, you'd look up and just see sky.  They finished rebuilding the roof fast!
Check out my Chicago Development Thread - My lonely corner of the forum!
http://www.urbanohio.com/forum2/index.php/topic,25080.0.html

Offline HHS78

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Love the pics. Lol at the "Woodcutters" van. The guy on the bike is looking like "wth" while the guy in the Nissan looks like he's posing for the camera. I also like the immigration wall.

Offline Robert Pence

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Great set Rob!  Pilsen is one of my favorite neighborhoods.  It represents more of the authentic Chicago neighborhoods with the lack of new construction, high immigrant population, mom and pop stores, great architecture, and community feel.  I love it the way it is.

Oh and Union station platforms now have a ceiling above them!  For awhile, you'd look up and just see sky.  They finished rebuilding the roof fast!

I really liked walking around Pilsen, and I hope I can return there next summer on a warm sunny Saturday when there's more sidewalk traffic. I think most people were home having supper when I was there last week.

I wasn't in Union Station during the roof reconstruction. The old roof was still soot-blackened, possibly going back to the steam locomotive era. I'd still like to see more emphasis given to making the train sheds in American stations more attractive; most of the major metro ones still are forbidding subterranean caves compared with many of the ones overseas. Millennium Park is a tremendous asset to downtown Chicago, but every time I go through the former Randolph Street station I miss the city skyline views from the South Shore platforms. Now everything is encased in raw concrete and there's nothing to look at except pigeons strutting brazenly among the hard wooden benches in the small waiting area. Descending still deeper into the abyss are the Metra Electric South Water Street platforms, echoing with the howling of the trains' HVAC systems as hordes of rush-hour commuters pour in or out.

Love the pics. Lol at the "Woodcutters" van. The guy on the bike is looking like "wth" while the guy in the Nissan looks like he's posing for the camera. I also like the immigration wall.

That was a lucky moment. I had composed the shot just for the buildings and was waiting for a gap in the traffic, when those two entered the frame. Mostly by reflex my finger pushed the shutter button.
Better than ever, and always growing! My photography web site

Some people are like slinkies -- not much good for anything, but they bring a smile to your face when pushed down the stairs.

Offline Jaybird

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Great pics, Rob! These pictures definitely make me look forward to going to Chicago next year! Pilsen looks like a cool neighborhood with a lot of character! Thanks for sharing them!

BTW, question, did you have any encounter with Occupy Chicago protesters? I hate to sound like a hypocrite or silly, but I really hope they don't play havoc when I try to take pictures down in the WINDY CITY!
Making Detroit and Buffalo look good!

Offline Robert Pence

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I didn't see any protesters on my visit, and if I had, I think I could have established some level of rapport; I'm an old white guy whom some people assume on sight to be a Republican or at least a sympathizer, but I'm actually an out-of-the-closet, practicing, publicly-avowed liberal who flies under some folks' radar.

I think you'll enjoy Chicago a lot; it has all sorts of cultural amenities, sports venues, and striking architecture, both historic and contemporary. I think it's a mostly friendly city, and the people I've met have unfailingly been helpful and hospitable. I think many people are like mirrors, and reflect back what you give off. My usual demeanor is relaxed and optimistic and I enjoy most of life's experiences, and if I'm happy or least contented when I interact with other people, usually they respond in the same manner. That doesn't mean you can wander around an urban environment oblivious to your surroundings, but I'm guessing you already know that.

Chicago has abundant public transportation, with buses, subways, and trains to get you close to most destinations. Taxis seem to be everywhere, fares are reasonable, I think, for some of the distances involved and convenience provided, and many of the cab drivers are friendly guys who are curious about visitors and willing to engage in conversation.

Another area you might enjoy is around Rogers Park, Loyola University, and especially Devon Avenue. Talk about multi-cultural!

Better than ever, and always growing! My photography web site

Some people are like slinkies -- not much good for anything, but they bring a smile to your face when pushed down the stairs.

Offline westerninterloper

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Great set, Rob! I'm pretty sure I was on the same train to Chicago on Nov 2...the delays you noted sound familiar. I rode the Amtrak back to Toledo on Sunday, Nov 6, and it was again two hours late. As much as I love riding the train, that experience will probably push me back to Megabus.

Offline Keith M.

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Even the clouds can't hide how handsome of a city Chicago is. I also really enjoyed the bonus pics of Pilsen. Kind of obvious that violent crime is an issue there.

Offline Robert Pence

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Great set, Rob! I'm pretty sure I was on the same train to Chicago on Nov 2...the delays you noted sound familiar. I rode the Amtrak back to Toledo on Sunday, Nov 6, and it was again two hours late. As much as I love riding the train, that experience will probably push me back to Megabus.


The delays are typical of the Late Shore Limited, I think, but if you rode that train on November 2, it was the same one I rode. It worked for me because I had deliberately planned an overnight in Chicago in anticipation of the late running. Unfortunately we don't have the Megabus option in Fort Wayne -- just two Greyhound trips daily, and one of those goes Fort Wayne to Chicago via Toledo! Flying is out of the question for me because of cost and inconvenience. South Shore from Michigan City is my best option, but Winter's coming and I don't like the drive to NW Indiana then.
Better than ever, and always growing! My photography web site

Some people are like slinkies -- not much good for anything, but they bring a smile to your face when pushed down the stairs.

Online subocincy

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Robert--I can't tell you how much I both enjoyed and learned from these recent Chicago photos!  Superb coverage of Pilsen; it matches your previous coverage of Devon Ave.  (however, your photos of Chicago mass-transit in both photo ops. is something to drool over)