A few weeks ago, my husband and I took Juliette’s Journey of Literary Inspiration to a whole different level. We packed the car and headed west to discover new and exciting American treasures. Our plans began to take shapes months ago, selecting cities and sights representing iconic landmarks and places of interest that have inspired some of the country’s greatest writers and artists throughout the years.
Often referred to as the “Windy City,” Chicago, Illinois was our first stop. This bustling metropolis hugging the shoreline of Lake Michigan is truly a sight to see. Our hotel room overlooked the Chicago River offering us a spectacular view of skyscrapers and water traffic.
Exploring the city by foot and by boat allowed us to embrace many features only Chicago has to offer.
We walked along Lake Shore Drive, marveling at the myriad of sailing vessels dotting our trail as we approached the Field Museum of Natural History. After viewing a number of exhibits, we toured a special exhibit Mammoths and Mastodons devoted to the discovery and analysis of mammoth fossils uncovered around the world.
Next, we experienced the magnificence of the city from the perspective of the lake, on our 30-minute Lakefront Speedboat ride. Boarding from the Navy Pier, this thrilling tour captured the vibrancy and excitement of this special place. Being on the water always starts my creative juices flowing and this adventure was no exception.
Water, in all of its forms, whether it be a waterfall, a pond, a lake or an ocean, fills me with a sense of calm and peace, challenging my imagination to soar with possibilities. As we jetted along the lake at top speed, the vast expanse of open waters gave me a rush and sense of freedom — the power to believe anything is possible. The euphoric high lasts long after one’s feet touch solid ground again.
As if that were not inspiring enough, the next day, we boarded Chicago’s First Lady for the official Chicago Architecture Foundation River Cruise. Our volunteer docent educated us and our fellow passengers on the history and various architectural styles reflected by the buildings (residential and commercial) adorning the banks of the Chicago River. From Daniel Hudson Burnham’s Chicago Plan, classical chevron design of structural supports, and the Chicago School to modern day influences of the Second Chicago School, illustrated by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Fazlur Khan with their structural system of framed tubes, the skyscrapers reflect the evolution of this city.
From architectural genius to literary excellence, the city of Chicago has produced, educated or influenced some of our nation’s greatest writers, poets, screenwriters and journalists. Among this vast group, I will only mention a few notable individuals/works worthy of addition study including:
- Robert Welch Herrick (American Novelist) April 21, 1868 – December 23, 1938
- Web of Life (1900)
- Franklin Pierce Adams (American Columnist) November 15, 1881 – March 23, 1960
- Baseball’s Sad Lexicon (“Tinker to Evers to Chance”)
- Carl August Sandburg (American Poet, Writer and Editor) January 6, 1878 – July 22, 1967
- Corn Huskers (1919)
- Ernest Miller Hemingway (American Author and Journalist) July 21, 1899 – July 2, 1961
- A Farewell to Arms (1929)
- Sidney Sheldon (American Writer) February 11, 1917 – January 30, 2007
- The Other Side of Midnight (1973)
- John Michael Crichton (American best-selling Author, Physician, Producer, Director and Screenwriter) October 23, 1942 – November 4, 2008
- Jurassic Park (1990)
- Scott Turow (American Author and Lawyer) Born April 12, 1949
- Presumed Innocent (1987)
Much as Chicago has shaped these individuals in unique and important ways, I have been forever touched by this remarkable shining star of the Midwest. Join me next time for another installment as we continue our cross-country journey!