Chicago, day 2, a more relaxed morning
After our extensive tour of the previous day, over many miles of hard Chicago tarmac, we were all slightly exhausted. A gentler day was in store, with a little less architecture. You can see from the picture below what beautiful weather we were enjoying.
We made our way downtown again and had a cup of coffee in the Chicago Hilton. This was the foundation of the Conrad Hilton chain of hotels, being originally opened in 1927 as the Stevens Hotel, when it was the largest hotel in the world. It contained a bowling alley, a cinema, and a miniature golf course on the roof. The Stevens family were bankrupted in the depression and the building was taken over by the US Army Air Force as a barracks in 1942. It was then sold in 1944 to a private businessman Stephen Healy who reopened it. In this year the Convention on International Civilian Aviation was signed here by 54 nations to ensure peaceful co-operation for international flight.
Conrad Hilton bought the building in 1945 and the name was changed to Hilton Hotel. It was enlarged and two ballrooms added. Hilton promoted the luxury end of the business and encouraged many film stars and politicians to stay. In 1968, while the hotel was hosting the Democratic Convention, famously riots occurred outside the building as 10,000 anti Vietnam War protesters clashed with 23,000 police and National Guardsmen. Richard Nixon actually came to power after the election!
We managed to sneak into the Grand Ballroom which was being prepared for dining.
Then we walked back to the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Photography, which is in Columbia University, Here we saw some very interesting exhibitions, part of which was a video presentation from Viviane Sassen, in a room with the video extending around 3 walls of the room with mirrors to reflect as well. This theme of mirrors and glass was featured in her static photographs as well.
Next we were back on the train and quickly over to the Chicago Museum where we looked at the presentations on the development of the city, the fire and transport, especially the 'L'line where we boarded an early carriage. After some lunch we were ready for a different district of Chicago, but I will save this for the next blog.