A Lunch Ride in the Loop & Historic Buildings


It is officially spring in the Midwest, but you would not know it by the chilly weather in Chicago.  The sun has started to peak out a little more, and feels a little brighter and stronger each day, but when the temperatures can’t make it out of the 30s (Fahrenheit) and the wind is blowing off the lake in 20-30mph gusts,  it’s hard to remember that spring is here. Nonetheless Oma and I headed downtown last week to meet up with a friend for lunch. We were headed into the heart of the loop, and even found a parking spot underneath the El tracks that run above Wabash Avenue.

Oma parked under the El tracks in Chicago

Yes, that’s the historic Marshall Field’s building across the street that now holds Macy’s.  It was built back in 1879 when retail could be a thing of beauty.

Windows on the Marshall Field's Building

After lunch, the sun came out for a bit as Oma and I worked our way west across the Chicago river. We paused on the Randolph Street bridge to look down the river, and I snapped a picture of Oma with the Civic Opera House (now the Lyric Opera) in the background.

Looking at the Lyric Opera House on the River

I think you can see by the picture, the way in which the opera house is shaped like a giant chair, though you can’t see the 45-story tower ‘back’ of the chair in this picture, just the 22-story wings, or ‘arms’ of the chair. Samuel Insull chose the architecture firm Graham, Anderson, Probst & White to build it, and it opened in 1929.  The story goes that he built it for his wife,  Margaret, who was better known by her stage name Gladys Wallis.  Supposedly the story line in the movie Citizen Kane is based on Insull and his wife, and some people say that the fact that the ‘chair’ of the Opera house faces the river instead of the street is so that Mrs. Insull could theoretically put her back to the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City – which supposedly did not choose to hire her.

Did you notice the guy hanging out over the edge of bridge behind Oma by the way?

close-up of civic opera house in chicago

Not a lot of room to work with, I’d say.

close-up of man working on bridge

I tried to get a good picture of the bridge tender’s house on the east side of the bridge, but I couldn’t really get a good shot. This is my best one –  you can see a couple of the lights on the outside of the Opera House in the background.

Bridge tender house

I had the wind at my back on the ride home, which meant it wasn’t quite as tear-inducing as the ride to the loop.  I love the architecture of Chicago (if you couldn’t tell) – even on chilly blustery faux-spring days.

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