Up and Down The Chicago River


The water taxi from Chinatown to Michigan Avenue takes about 40 minutes.
Chinatown in located on the near south side of Chicago and the river divides the city between north and south addresses.  We were heading towards north Michigan Ave.  The boat stops at a few different locations along the way, so you get to take a nice leisurely boat ride.  This boat is just a taxi, there are no tour guides to tell you what the buildings are all about as you pass them.  We have done one of those rides before and Man-Farmer is a movie buff.  So between what I had remembered from past boat tours, my own knowledge of Chicago architecture, and my husband’s dorky knowledge of movie set locations we were pretty informed on our water taxi ride.

This is what my kids do when they are waiting for a boat to pick them up…



This is what our boat looked like on part two of our water taxi excursion.
I don’t think we have a photo of the boat we got on initially.  There seemed to be a few different styles of boats in their fleet.


gigi river cruise

This is the Lyric Opera House.  It’s a beautiful building inside and out.
The music festival Lollapolooza was going on in Grant Park this same weekend, so I thought the marque on the side of the Lyric was quite funny.



This is the Sears Tower.  Which used to be the tallest building (at 1729 feet tall) in the United States.  It’s now called Willis Tower and is the second tallest building after the recent construction of One World Trade Center (1776 feet tall) in NYC.  I don’t do well with changes like this, so it’s always going to be the Sears Tower in my head.  You can see the boxes towards the top of the building that have glass bottoms.  You can stand in these boxes and look straight down onto the streets below from the 103rd floor.  We haven’t taken the kids to do this yet.  Man-Farmer used to work up there when he first moved to the city when he was 20 years old.  The glass boxes weren’t there when he worked high in the sky.

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This building is the headquarters of Encyclopedia Britannica.
It’s called the Reid Murdoch Building.

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We saw a few groups of kayakers on the river.  I have seen the little stands on the river up farther on the riverwalk where you can rent a kayak and take a tour down the river, but have never done anything like that before.  It’s definitely something we would all enjoy.  The boat traffic was heavy the day we were on the river, though.  I think that would make me nervous being down in a little boat with these large water vessels looming over me.

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Man-Farmer and I didn’t remember seeing these steps before.  There was an entire wall of sitting steps right on the river and right after this area, one block west, were two big river side restaurants with outdoor seating.



Gigi was really interested in seeing the bridges that open up.  When tall sailboats come down the river the bridges will open up.  I have only seen this happen once.  I don’t think it’s something that happens often as that would really disrupt traffic.


Once we got off of the boat, we headed up to Michigan Avenue.
UP, because the river and any boat let-off points are below street level.
We had to find the stairs under the streets to climb up into the sunshine.

The water taxi drop off point is right around the corner from this historic Chicago location.


The Billy Goat Tavern sells cheeseburgers and was satirized in a very popular Saturday Night Live skit back in the days of Belushi, Murray, and Ackroyd.


We located the stairs and the heat hit us like a bomb.
I saw an ice cream truck parked on the corner so I ran over and bought everyone ice cream and popsicles.  We enjoyed the view and enjoyed standing around being toursits for a bit.



We were lucky to see these lighthouse statues as I had seen a story about them on CBS Sunday Morning a few weeks ago.  They are made by developmentally and physically disabled Chicagoans.  The first two pieces are made by visually impaired artists.  They were simply stunning.  I wish it hadn’t been so hot outside, I would have like to walked farther along Michigan Ave to see more of them.

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We headed back to the water taxi loading area and took a double decker boat back to Chinatown.  Zoe and Man-Farmer were really feeling the effects of the sun (neither one of them does well in the heat at all) so they sat in the air conditioned area of the boat.  Gigi and I sat on the top of the boat right at the front.  She likes to torture her mother.



Thanks for reading!



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