12 Unbelievable Facts I Learned About Chicago After Going On A River Architecture Tour

12 Unbelievable Facts I Learned About Chicago After Going On A River Architecture Tour

The secrets behind some of Chicago's most recognizable buildings have finally been revealed!

If you’re looking for something fun to do in the Windy City, take an architecture tour! Chicago is an architecture town, and one of the best places to learn about its history is on one of its river tours. Take your pick from the many tour companies floating down the waterway and get ready for an awesome time. I took one and now I know EVERYTHING about this town! Here’s some of what I learned:

1. Lake Point Tower has been called home by some famous folks, but NOT who you might think.

A common belief about Lake Point Tower is that it was home to famous Chicagoan Oprah Winfrey. This is not the case. However, some notable names that have resided in the building are: Alice Cooper, Goldie Hawn, Kurt Russel, Sammy Sosa, Steve Buscemi, Abraham Lincoln, Winnie the Pooh, Phoebe from Friends, and Alf.

2. Trump Tower is the “tallest” building in the city.

It’s the tallest building, a great building, a really beautiful building, we love it. The best building that’s really, really tall, the best in the world. A great building. Not the second tallest like some liberal snowflakes might tell you. The tallest. The best. The most beautiful building in the city, in the world. We’re gonna love this building so much. It’s going to make Chicago great again.

3. Marina City has a great nickname.

These two circular towers are affectionately nicknamed “The Corncob Towers” because they were made out of corncobs.

4. The Chicago River has come quite a long way.

Our river is known for its pollution, being so polluted at times that people could walk across its grimy surface. Now, however, it’s much cleaner, and is home to around 70 species of fish. You can find bass, carp, the Loch Ness Monster, catfish, and others lurking in its depths.

5. The old Kinzie Street Bridge stays lifted.

This old railroad bridge has been declared a landmark, forever to remain in an upright position because boats can’t pass under it when it’s lowered. This is because there is an angry troll who magically appears under it and throws banana peels at ship captains when they come too close, which could be very dangerous.

6. You might recognize this building if you like classic Chicago cinema!

The only known fact about 333 W Wacker is that it was featured in the movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off as the place of business for the titular character’s father. The rest of this building is shrouded in mystery.

7. Centennial Fountain honors a historic engineering feat.

Centennial Fountain was built to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago. They were the ones who reversed the Chicago River, and also the ones who added the figure eight, loop-di-loop, bottomless pit/waterfall combo, and log flume ride to it, too.

8. There’s a common misconception about this building!

The Jeweler’s Building is famously rumored to have housed an Al Capone-run speakeasy called “The Stratosphere Lounge” in the top cupola during prohibition. This is flat-out untrue. The cupola actually housed an Al Capone-run space observatory called “The Stratosphere Lounge” where astronomers would gather to gaze at the stars during prohibition.

9. Merchandise Mart is one of the biggest buildings in Chicago.

The art deco building was built in 1930 and was the largest building in the world at that time. It takes up two whole city blocks, once had its own zip code, and has seven miles of hallways inside. Merchandise Mart is also 4.1 million square feet in total, but it still isn’t as big as your mom.

10. Mather Tower is the skinniest skyscraper in Chicago.

The tower is also really self-conscious about that fact, so be considerate and don’t talk about its size, please.

11. River City was born of the same architect as Marina City.

The S-shaped building on the river's south branch was designed by Bertrand Goldberg, the same architect of Marina City. This structure was also built out of corncobs, but a corny nickname unfortunately never caught on.

12. A lot of the letters in “Willis Tower” are actually silent.

The tricky name of the tallest skyscraper in Chicago isn’t pronounced as it looks. The “Willis” in “Willis Tower” is actually pronounced “Sears”.

Cover Image Credit: Flickr

Popular Right Now

It's Just Me & The City

You have to keep the hustle alive.

For a city that never sleeps

I've seen you grow quiet in suspense

Lost with no direction during those hours on the 34th

with nothing but a Penn heading to the Station

In hopes that I've been making the right decisions to avoid all of this temptation

All the things I've been making has just been a declaration to me

Of who I should be,

who I want to be,

who I'm destined to be

because I see this me that most don't see

and the potential I see in me has been unseen to the public.

For there hasn't been any interests to get to know that me.

Cover Image Credit: Kyra Donahoo

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

Going Home For Spring Break Is Basically Like Going Back In Time

Even the most cookie cutter of towns have their secrets and charms.

Last week was my spring break, and as I scrolled through Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter, I saw all my friends and classmates traveling the world. Countless pictures of beach landscapes, boomerangs of historical landmarks and nighttime videos of them dancing in clubs around the world filled my newsfeeds. While I was incredibly jealous to see all of my friends experience different cities and cultures, I found comfort in my own sofa smack in the middle of my living room.

For probably the fifth year in a row, I spent my Spring Break at home. Granted, home is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, but my own little suburb is bland and perhaps boring. Nothing really happens there, just gated communities and strip malls. Yet, I had an amazing Spring Break.

When you go home for spring break, there is minimal stress. No need to buy all these outfits, worry about losing your passport, lug luggage around everywhere and learn a new language. All these things are fun, I live for buying new outfits, I love the adrenaline rush that comes with traveling, and learning new languages and cultures is my favorite thing in the world. But spring break is just that, a break.

Stuck in the middle of weeks that are filled to the brim with events, assignments, and exams, I need a week to settle down. I need a week to eat things that aren't cereal and Chick-Fil-A. I need to fall asleep somewhere that isn't the library. For my Spring Break, I want to relax, and so I went home.

At home, I slept in everyday, I didn't stress at all. Not to mention, I got to spend time with my friends and family from home. Perhaps I'm trying to excuse the fact I didn't have any money saved up to travel over spring break, so my Instagram feed suffered. Or maybe, I'm secretly a homebody, and I really enjoyed having a relaxed, stress free spring break.

On the days I did do something other than binge TV in bed, I got to explore the town I've called home for the past 18 years. Sometimes we live somewhere for years, but never actually experience it. Even the most cookie cutter of towns have their secrets and charms. Whether it be the food, the Denny's night life, or the same old get-togethers with the same old friends, our home towns are special.

Going back home for Spring Break is almost like going back in time. At least for me, March was always my favorite time of year. Back home, in March, these beautiful yellow flowers began to bloom everywhere. The trees by the golf course down my block, the trees that lined the basketball courts at my elementary school, and the trees that covered my car in the high school parking lot. They were all ridden in yellow flowers. Spring Break has always been those yellow flowers, and I cant imagine any other Spring Break.

Cover Image Credit: Pinterest

Related Content

Facebook Comments