Entries Tagged as 'chicago harbor lighthouse'

Navy Pier

July 21st, 2011 · 2 Comments

On Jess’s second day of her visit I took her to Navy Pier. I haven’t been to the pier for years, so it was time. Jess had visited Navy Pier before, but she was very young (2004, 2005). I asked her if she remembered and she said she can’t remember a lot from when she was little. Funny. In my mind she is still “little.” Hahha. She is the ripe old age of 8.

Rachelle & Jessica :: Seadog Boat Cruise

Quinn :: Seadog Boat Cruise

Our captain.

Chicago Skyline from Seadog Lake Cruise

Chicago Harbor Lighthouse from the Seadog Lake Cruise

A month or so ago I saw a Groupon for Seadog boat cruises. I thought this would be something fun for Jess and I to do, so I bought it. I invited Quinn to join us, so we met Jen and Chad and Chad’s dad, who was in town from Baltimore, on the pier. We were doing the 30-minute lake tour. Seadog also does Chicago River architecture tours and some kind of extreme ride where they go really fast and spin in circles and who knows what.

For the lake tour we would go fast for a bit and then slow down and the guide would point out some things in the skyline and then go fast again. I think we went about 40 mph. I’m not sure, though, because the guide was terrible and had really bad jokes, so I was trying not to listen. It was a fun ride. Definitely worth the Groupon price of $13. And, it was great to be on the water and get the breeze, since it was 90+ degrees, 100 with the heat index, that day. HOT.

Navy Pier Swings

After the boat ride, Quinn went off to the Children’s Museum (located on the pier) for a while and Jess and I headed for the rides on Navy Pier. Jess had been telling me about how she went to Bay Beach, an amusement park in Green Bay, and how she really liked the swing ride there. She wanted to try the swings on Navy Pier, but wasn’t so sure when I told her she’d have to ride herself because I get sick going in circles! I told her I’d wait right at the exit and it would be fine. She manned up and went on the ride and even told me later on that she was brave enough to barely even hold on! Daredevil.

Funny side note about Bay Beach. Our family used to go there when I was young. The way that Jess was describing the rides to me, it seems like nothing has changed. I remembered going on the rides she told me she went on. One difference was that Jess told me they had a roller coaster now, which they never had before. Back when we used to go, it was like our parents and aunts and uncles would stake out a spot by Lake Michigan and hand my cousins and I some money. We’d go buy tickets and candy or whatever and disappear for the day. Just meet them back up on the grass for a picnic later. I don’t think this is how Jess’s trip went!

So, after the swings we met back up with Quinn and his family for lunch and then we were back on our own, off for more rides!

Jessica on the Navy Pier Ferris Wheel

Rachelle & Jessica. Right after this Jess actually spoke up to request that I don’t take any more photos of her!

Views from the Navy Pier Ferris Wheel

View of the swings from the Navy Pier Ferris Wheel

Jess had also told me that the ferris wheel at Bay Beach was boring and she didn’t like it. When she saw how big the ferris wheel at Navy Pier was, she decided she wanted to give it a second try. Here’s the thing: The Navy Pier ferris wheel goes so slow. Like so slow that it never even stops to let people on and off. They just exit and board while the thing is moving… slowly moving. And you only get one trip around. Afterwards Jess told me that it was boring and she didn’t like it. Figures!

Cirque Shanghai Extreme

Cirque Shanghai Extreme Motorcycle

Cirque Shanghai Extreme Motorcycle stunt

There are FOUR motorcycles in there!

Our final activity on the pier was to see the Cirque Shanghai Extreme show. I took my other niece Stephanie to a show similar to this a couple years ago and she really liked it. This Cirque show is kind of like a variety show with groups of performers coming out and doing different tricks and acrobatics and balancing acts. One of the biggest additions to this show was the acrobatics they did with motorcycles in the show’s finale. They rode the motorbikes on a wire over the audience and did tricks from above the middle of the audience. They also rode the bikes in a metal ball. I thought it was impressive when they did one, but then they added another and another and another. At the end there were 4 motorcycles riding around in the metal ball. Crazy. I couldn’t tell if Jess liked the show or not. She seemed interested, but afterwards wouldn’t really say. (She is still SO SO shy and mostly not talkative around us. Especially Dallas, who she has not spoken a word to in her whole life.)

This day turned out to be a long day, just because it was so hot outside, I think. I was so sweaty and tired when we got home. Plus, we took a bus and a train each way to get out there. Ugh! But it was a fun day and worth it. On the ride north to meet Amanda, I did get Jess to admit she had a fun weekend, so that is good. Before her visit she had told me more than once that she didn’t even want to come for a visit, but I’m glad she did. Despite her shyness and lack of openness to us, I think it is good for her and fun for me to have her around. Hopefully it will get better as she gets older (I’ve been saying this for about 6 years!).

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Chicago Harbor Lighthouse

April 21st, 2004 · 24 Comments

Chicago Harbor Lighthouse
Chicago Harbor Lighthouse from my office window

Chicago Harbor Lighthouse
Chicago Harbor Lighthouse from Navy Pier

In 1832, the original Chicago Harbor Lighthouse was built on the shore of Lake Michigan at the mouth of the Chicago River. Depending on your source, this was one of the first or the first lighthouse to be built on Lake Michigan. In 1872 a new lighthouse was built farther north at Grosse Point and in 1873 the Chicago Harbor Lighthouse was deemed unnecessary and was dismantled.

1893 brought the World’s Fair to Chicago. Chicagoans were proud to show Chicago to the world and made many harbor improvements. To prepare for an expected influx of travelers, it was decided that the construction of a new lighthouse was needed. This lighthouse was at the Chicago River’s mouth and very close to the location of the original 1832 lighthouse. This is the lighthouse that exists today. Its foundation is rubble stone with a concrete pier. It has a 48 foot steel tower that is lined with brick. On top is a 10 sided cast iron lantern. To eliminate the need for a separate living space, living space was built into the tower, which is 18 foot in diameter at its base.

The original lens used in the Chicago Harbor Lighthouse was meant to be used at Point Loma in San Diego, CA. This lens had alternating red and white panels and was put on display at the World’s Fair. The completion of the lighthouse construction was at the same time as the closing of the World’s Fiar so the Lighthouse Board decided to use it in the Chicago Harbor Lighthouse instead of at Point Loma. The original lens is now on display at Cabrillo National Monument at Point Loma.

In 1917 Chicago renovated its harbor. It was determined that a lighthouse was needed to guide vessels into the harbor at the southern extension of the breakwater, rather than at the mouth of the Chicago River. To avoid the expense of constructing a new lighthouse, the existing lighthouse was moved at a cost of $88,000. At this time a fog signal building was added to the south side of the lighthouse and a boat house building was added to the north side. The Chicago Harbor Lighthouse was automated in 1979 and restored in 1997.

Today, the Chicago Harbor Lighthouse is operational and flashes a red beacon out to aid in the navigation of sea craft. Unfortunately, it is not open to the public. I became interested in the lighthouse when I was visiting Chicago on business earlier this year. When I moved to Chicago my curiosity was piqued even more, as the lighthouse is something I can see from my closest office windows and I see it many times every day. I also found the tidbit about Point Loma interesting because Point Loma & Cabrillo National Monument is something I visiting many times while living in San Diego.

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