This weekend I spent a few hours attending the 2012 Open House Chicago event. For those of you who aren't aware, Open House Chicago is an event where private areas that are normally off limits to the public are available for tours and pictures. 2011 was the inaugural event and I missed it partially because I didn't know what to expect. I was so amazed by some of the pictures I had seen from last years event that I knew I had to plan my route well before the Open House Chicago weekend.
The Open House Chicago website has a map with all the participating locations. The website says that over 150 locations participated but the location of these buildings spread from the Rogers Park neighborhood down to Chinatown. I decided to stay in the loop area because they had some high profile buildings that I figured would have amazing views.
The first building we started at was the Drake Hotel. They had the Cape Cod Room available for tours. The picture on the website showed the back of the Drake sign so I assumed that was the view from the Cape Cod Room. Not so much. The Cape Cod Room was on the first floor if not the basement of the Drake Hotel. We got there just as they were opening so we got to talk with the tour guide and she told us that just after Joe Dimaggio and Marilyn Monroe got married they had dinner there and carved their name in the bar. She also informed us Aretha Franklin dines there often and she always sits in one of the semi private rooms. The Cape Cod Room at the Drake was short on views but it was really cool to hear the history of the restaurant.
Next we headed over to the Kemper building. Apparently the Kemper building used to be the Unitrin building until last year. The building has a room on the 41st floor that used to be a restaurant with 360 degree views of the city. Since the restaurant closed the top floor hasn't been open. It's been over 40 years since it was open to the public. Because of where it is located you get spectacular views of the river, the jewelers building and many of the other Chicago landmarks. The only issue with this building was the massive reflections from all the people and other windows. Even though it was a challenging place to shoot the views were well worth it.
After the Kemper building we headed over to the Chicago Tribune Tower. The Tribune Tower tour was of the board room and the office of the original president. From the board room there were some great views down Michigan Ave and amazing views of The Wrigley Building across the street. The shot of The Wrigley Building was the one that I had seen last year that convinced me that this was an event that I had to attend.
Next on the list was the First United Methodist Church across from Daley Plaza and the Picasso sculpture. The First United Methodist Church has a sanctuary near the top of the building (approximately 30 stories) that they actively use for worship. From the top of the building you could look down at the Picasso and Daley Plaza. It was a pretty amazing site to see and one of those "one of a kind" buildings.
The Open House Chicago event is what makes Chicago such an amazing city. I wish I could have seen more buildings but ill definitely put it on my calendar for next year. Enjoy the pictures!