America by Amtrak,
Coast-to-Coast and Border-to-Border
The second Destination City on a
dream Amtrak train trip covering 25 states on 6 Amtrak Long Distance
Trains on 7,638 rail miles by a 74 year old dad, Carl Morrison, and 42
year old son, Matthew Morrison.
July 9 - 11, 2016
Photography and text by Carl Morrison (except where noted) Carl@TrainWeb.com
Chicago's famous "L" (for elevated) above street and waterway.
The first "L", the Chicago and
South Side Rapid Transit Railroad, began revenue service on June 6,
1892, when a steam locomotive pulling four wooden coaches carrying over
a couple of dozen people departed the 39th Street station and arrived
at the Congress Street Terminal 14 minutes later, over tracks that are
still in use by the Green Line.
The Chicago "L" (short for "elevated") is the rapid transit system
serving the city of Chicago and some of its surrounding suburbs in the
U.S. state of Illinois. It is operated by the Chicago Transit Authority
(CTA). It is the fourth largest rapid transit system in the United
States in terms of total route length, at 102.8 miles long.
The "L" consists of eight rapid transit lines laid out in a spoke–hub
distribution paradigm focusing transit towards the Loop. Although the
"L" gained its name because large parts of the system are elevated,
portions of the network are also in subway tunnels, at grade level, or
Chicago is served by these 13 Amtrak Trains:
California Zephyr, Capitol Limited,
Cardinal, City of New Orleans, Empire Builder, Hiawatha, Hoosier State,
Illinois Service, Lake Shore Limited, Michigan Services, Missouri River
Runner, Southwest Chief, and Texas Eagle.
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Bob knew of a tour to the chapel after Sunday service which we enjoyed
Luke 42:19 is the basis of the altar artwork.
Bob Williams' photo of me checking
the photos that I shot at the Chicago Temple. Always a good idea
before you leave a special place to make sure your photos were good,
even better to check each photo on the replay screen as you take it.
All stained glass windows are florescent lights and white box
behind them, none have outside light behind them.
They have a PC Code on all the windows with the history of the Bible or
of the Church as the basis.
Some artwork on the windows are of life in the 50s.
Bob thought the lady with a scarf looked like his mom in the
50s. We both noted the absence of cars was not characteristic of
Some things you never forget how to do. Some non-farmers think
that if it has horns it is a bull, but trust me this is a cow and has
the plumbing to prove it.
I noticed that the pupil of the cow's eye was the Picasso sculpture.
Millennium Park is a portion of the
319-acre Grant Park, known as the "front lawn" of downtown Chicago, and
has four major artistic highlights: the Jay Pritzker Pavilion, Cloud
Gate, the Crown Fountain, and the Lurie Garden.
Cloud Gate but many call it The Bean
Bob took a photo of Matt and me starting our photo shoot of The
Bean. Hopefully my decades-old suede and leather JanSport
backpack does not look like it contains valuables.
Everyone wants a self-portrait in or of the Bean.
Chicago's Theater District
While walking through the sights of
downtown Chicago, we repeatedly passed under the "L". I mentioned
to Bob Williams that I had seen the "L" many times, but had never
ridden it. Within a block he had us going up stairs from street
level to a station.
This is where having a local guide
is priceless. Bob (above, left) studied the CTA map while I shot
photos without regard to station stops and Matt just relaxed.
As it turned out, Bob had us board
the "L" within the "Loop" so we need not change trains to get a nice
sampling of the train system. Additionally, it was perfect for
photos because it involved 90 degree turns where I could photograph the
front of our own train as well as other approaching trains.
Of course, Bob said, "I planned it this way!"
Stations are well marked since one
cannot see street signs as you would at street level on a bus or in a
car. Advertisements in adjacent buildings need to be in second
Trackside billboard space is
available as well as seen in this Al Capone movie ad whose name
long-time Chicago residents will know.
Other first-timers were enjoying their ride on the "L" in addition
to Matt and me.
He and older brother had a Local Guide as well to point out
sights--Mom and Grandma.
Better to ride above the bus and car traffic in my opinion.
A full-length photo of an oncoming train is one advantage of
riding the "L" within the "Loop".
From this elevated train ride, one can see Lake Michigan past the
Nichols Bridgeway to the Art Institute.
Emergency procedures are well posted.
After detraining at the conclusion
of our circle tour, Bob suggested staying on the platform for
additional photos. This map, on the platform, helps
travelers know about CTA train and bus connections.
Quite a spaghetti bowl of switches at intersections.
A slight elevation change behind the train makes it easier to show more
track in a photo.
It won't take long on a platform to see a train meet in the station.
The end of a station platform is a good place to get a photo of an
Bob returned home after our "L" ride, so Matt and I took a
water taxi (Red line) from Union Station/Adams Street to Navy Pier.
Bob had walked across Adams St. bridge to Union station and took
this photo of us.
Photo credit: Matt Morrison
A plain dressed Amish, Mennonite,
Brethren, or Quaker family, that travels by train, watch activity on
the Chicago River directly below Union Station in Chicago at Adams
Same family as above, but showing that trains come into the
Union Station on the lower level and the exits from the station are
upstairs on street level. Below the track level is the river.
Chicago Police pass below Union Station on the Chicago river flying the
On the water taxi from Union Station down the Chicago River to
Navy Pier, we pass a modern building built with the same curve as the
New skyscrapers still being built in Chicago.
Kayaks for rent on the river beside the River Walk. We observed
several kayaks pulled to the side to avoid the many water taxis and
tour boats on the river - not a place for a beginner in my mind.
Restaurants, seating, and river walk along the river downtown.
Round condo building with parking below. Ferris Bueller's Day Off
film used this garage.
Matt taking in the Chicago Skyline from the Chicago River water taxi.
Just across the street west of Navy Pier was this unique water fountain
with fog being enjoyed by some families.
On to the east end of Navy Pier, the late afternoon light worked on the
lighthouse and 4-masted "Windy".
With "Windy" moving slowly, I caught it with the Chicago Harbor Light
through the rigging.
Later, with sails down for more maneuverability in the harbor, "Windy"
passes the Chicago Harbor Light again.
Onshore winds made the many flags on Navy Pier stand out proudly.
Bob Newhart Statue
for visitor participation, lie on the couch and pour out your troubles
to bronze Bob Hartley, the 1970s psychologist from The Bob Newhart
Show. Created by Studio EIS in New York, the life-sized statue was
commissioned by nostalgia cable channel TV Land and unveiled to the
City of Chicago on July 27, 2004 by the company’s president Larry W.
Jones. In November 2004, the statue was moved to Navy Pier.
I first thought this sign was talking about my friend Bob Williams, but
you can use your cell phone to read the code on the left to hear Bob
Newhart talk about 2 minutes about Chicago. (Click the photo
above to make the code larger.)
Matt asked Sam Adams where we could find a bit to eat.
The setting sun provided some nice panoramas of the Chicago skyline.
Ferris Wheel on Navy Pier
Ferris wheel was under construction and reopened on May 27, 2016. A new
model was selected and purchased—the DW60—from Dutch Wheels, the
Netherlands-based company that built the pier’s former wheel. The
state-of-the-art DW60 is the first and only one of its kind in the U.S.
with similar wheels currently in operation in Hong Kong and Baku,
Azerbaijan. Significant features include two-sided cars that allow for
easy loading and unloading, a fortified structure to withstand winds of
115 miles per hour, and safety glass capable of weathering intense
The ticket booth for the Ferris wheel had a chrome covering, so what
not a selfie?
Keep an eye on both the south and
north sides of Navy Pier facing west. Matt disappeared for a few
moments and returned with a photo like this on his iPhone, so I rushed
to the north side of the pier for this shot.
With a 1 sec. exposure, I was able to get the moon, swing ride
spinning, and even people on the moving swings.
The Merry-Go-Round on Navy Pier with Chicago downtown background.
We didn't need a nightcap, but the sign was neat. We took Uber
back to our hotel from Navy Pier.
With our 3rd day in Chicago, we had
until 6:40 p.m. before we left on the Capitol Limited for Washington,
Bob met us again at Union Station and we took this nearby Water
Taxi (above) downtown to meet a Wendella's Chicago River and Harbor
A sister Wendella sightseeing boat to ours and the Chicago skyline.
Wendella's Signature Lake & River Tour (90 Minutes)
Chicago family tradition since 1935, this is the tour that started it
all. This unique excursion tells the story of more than 200 years of
fascinating social, cultural and political history, and explores more
than a century of groundbreaking architecture. The journey begins with
an up-close perspective of Chicago’s internationally-known architecture
as seen from the Chicago River. Then venture through the Chicago Lock
on to the calm, cool waters of Lake Michigan for expansive views of
Chicago’s extraordinary 26-mile skyline. Take the selfie of a lifetime
on this inspirational experience!
Click the Map of our tour above for a larger, readable copy.
This time under Wells Street Bridge, I caught an "L" train on the
Matt enjoying the top deck.
Bob doing fact checking of the tour announcer.
Water through the partially opened locks to lift our boat to lake level.
Navy Pier from Lake Michigan.
Bob and Downtown Chicago
Chicago Harbor Light up close.
The light was constructed in 1893
for the World's Columbian Exposition and moved to its present site in
1919. In 2005, the light was declared excess by the Coast Guard.
United States Secretary of the Interior Kenneth Salazar initiated
transfer to the City of Chicago on February 24, 2009.
Sailboats, Monroe Harbor, and Chicago skyline south of Navy Pier.
Navy Pier and the Ferris Wheel from Lake Michigan
Back through the locks into Chicago
A condo building with Trump's
"Many developers pay Donald Trump to market their properties and
be the public face for their projects. For that reason, Trump does not
own many of the buildings that display his name."
Railroad bridge raised.
Tall building where you can walk out into a glass box far above street
Three levels of traffic: train, cars, and boats in Chicago
Chicago skyline, "L", and vents on the top of our tour boat.
Building top designed to look like the top of a bottle of champagne.
Always plenty going on in Chicago. This poster refers to:
Lunch at a famous Chicago restaurant, Grand Lux Cafe.
Apple Store in Chicago
Disney Store uses "Windy City" creatively
Chicago water tower one of the few buildings to survive the
destructive path of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.
The Buckingham Fountain photo is HDR. I did not take my
tripod so I used the fence to brace my photo for a 3-shot burst.
Photo Credit: Matt Morrison
See my Amtrak Travel clothing Tips at:
Another pass under the "L" heading back to Union Station for our
Capitol Limited train to DC.
Bob had his son, Andrew Williams, (center) meet us on the street corner
below his office building for a photo with Matt.
Andrew Williams works at 300 South Wacker Drive with a map graphic on the river
A new Amtrak information kiosk in the large waiting room of Chicago
We left our luggage in the
Metropolitan Lounge in Chicago Union Station after we checked out from
our nearby hotel, Holiday Inn Express in the morning. We did all
the sightseeing for the day, knowing it was secure. After
returning for our 6:40 pm Capitol Limited train for
DC, we retrieved the computers from the luggage area, rested and
enjoyed some refreshments in the Lounge before our train was called and
took the rest of the luggage to our Superliner.
Capitol Limited to Washington, DC
Visitors since August 19, 2016: