Over two and a half days, I took a quick and unseasonably warm November trip to the great city of Chicago.  With only a limited number of hours to photograph, I wanted to create a plan of what locations I wanted to go to ahead of time, to maximize my short window of opportunity.  I knew I wanted to take some photographs of the skyline, and I knew I wanted to focus on their iconic “L” train, and how its infrastructure fits into the city.

In addition to this post, the photos from my trip are also available in an album format, of just the photos themselves.

To see the standard length album of my Chicago trip, containing 24 photos, click here.
To see the extended length album, featuring 43 photos, click here.

The extended length album contains some alternate photos from the different locations, as well as some extra sights along the way.

Every photo featured on this post and in the albums can be viewed in full screen, and zoomed in to full resolution.


My first stop on day 1 was to photograph the historic Wells Street Bridge in downtown Chicago, carrying the Purple Line train, road traffic and pedestrians, over the Chicago River.  This particular location is rather nice as the Chicago River is filled with a lot of history, the area is busy with train and water traffic, and each skyscraper surrounding it is impressive and unique in its own way.  One of the more interesting looking buildings I was drawn to was the Marina City Towers, or what are referred to as the Corn Cobs, due to their resemblance, of you guessed it, corn cobs.


Once the sun went down, I wanted to photograph Chicago’s skyline, and during my research I determined the Adler Planetarium was one of the best locations to see it from.  It is situated on a 91-acre peninsula located near the south side of Chicago.  The peninsula sticks out about a half-mile from the shoreline, providing plenty of distance to really appreciate the skyline and Lake Michigan as a whole.  The first photograph features the “Man Enters the Cosmos” bronze sculpture behind the planetarium, as a for ground, and the second is a panoramic of the full skyline.


After the planetarium, I went to the 7th floor of a public parking garage which faces an S-Curve section of the “L” Train, featuring a perfect perspective of this unique stretch of elevated track.


The following morning I woke up early to go to the North Avenue Beach, as well as the walking trail that goes along Lake Michigan, for sunrise.  The view of the skyline from here is great, and the natural beach elements provide an interesting foreground to the city behind it.  Unfortunately, on this morning, the sky was quite cloudy, so I did not get to use the actual sunrise in my pictures, but the area was beautiful nonetheless.



As the day continued, I made my way to Grant Park, passing over a series of Metra commuter rails, which serve people who live either outside of Chicago or in the areas further away from downtown.


When in Grant Park, one of the iconic features that everyone stops at is the Cloud Gate, aka “The Bean.”  This public sculpture is never short of tourists taking pictures of it, and taking pictures of themselves in its reflection.  So, capturing it without all the people in it would be impossible this time of day, so I decided to use a long exposure shot, and try to incorporate the movement of all the people as an element of the photograph itself.


Once the sun had set, I made my way up into another parking garage, this one overlooking a 4-way railway transfer, with the commuter Metra train passing through, in the Loop section of Downtown Chicago.⁠


Then another parking garage which had glass panels mounted on the exterior of it, so if you positioned your camera outside of the garage, you could use the glass panels to create a reflection of the train tracks below.  In made for pretty cool effect.


I then headed to the pedestrian bridge which crosses over the “L” tracks at the Adams & Wabash station, providing the opportunity to photograph the train moving below with buildings completely surrounding the tracks.  This over-the-tracks perspective gave me what is probably my favorite photo from the trip.


Afterwards I took the train Wolf Point West Riverwalk, which is facing south over where north branch of the Chicago River junctions with the main stem flowing into the south branch.  Over the water is the bridge which carries the pink, green and blue lines of the “L” train.⁠


On my way back, I hadn’t planned to, but ended up walking past the Chicago Theatre, and couldn’t help grabbing a couple shots.


On my last day, before heading to the airport in the afternoon, I stopped inside of the Palmer House Hotel, which is one of the oldest continuously operating hotels in the United States.  The main lobby is filled with many extravagant features, from bronze hand-forged doors, to 24-karat gold Tiffany & Co. candelabras.  What is now a popular landmark in the heart of downtown Chicago, this hotel is a member of the Historical Hotels of America program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. It is open to the public, and people who aren’t fortunate enough to stay here (like myself), can come in and travel back in time to the height of the Art Deco era of the 1920s in Chicago.⁠


That’s all for this quick trip, here are the links again to the album versions.

To see the standard length album version, click here.
To see the extended length album version, click here.

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