If you don’t know how much I love Chicago by now…well, then you must be living under, well, the Michigan Avenue Bridge. I used to cover feature stories on the city when I was a TV producer for ABC7 . I also gave free tours with the City of Chicago’s free Chicago Greeter program. And when I travel the world, I often feel like an unofficial ambassador to Chicago. I love my city!
Chicago River Contest
So one day, during one of my random internet trawling sessions, I came across a contest, put on by the Friends of the Chicago River, to win a “Night at the Museum,” a once-in-a-lifetime 24-hour stay in one of the Michigan Avenue Bridgehouses – you know those cool towers at opposite ends of the bridge that we walk by all the time without barely noticing? Not only could the McCormick Bridgehouse Museum be my home for the day, but it came with plenty of perks related to life on the river: lunch and dinner on the river, a Wendella boat tour, kayaking on the river, special room service delivery, sleeping on the river…and, my favorite part, being able to help raise the Michigan Avenue Bridge to allow boats to go through. Plus no one had ever slept there before – well, at least officially. I jumped at the chance and sent in my essay. And, this wouldn’t be much of a story if I’d lost…lo and behold…I won!
Watch the Video!
If the video doesn’t show up for you, click here to watch it on the You Tube.
The tables were turned and I was even interviewed by a few local television stations, including NBC5 and my former workplace, ABC7 Chicago.
Watch NBC5’s Story on me and the museum here:
If video doesn’t show, watch it here.
The Bridgehouse & Chicago River Museum
The Museum itself opened just a few years ago and many locals still don’t even know it’s here.
Did you know that there are about 37 movable bridges spanning the Chicago River? That’s more than any other city in the world. If you are in town and looking for a unique perspective try a tour with Chicago Loop Bridges and take a walk down by the river or, of course, the Chicago Architecture Boat Tour is a great way to learn about the great architecture seen from a ‘fish-eye view’ of the river.
The river itself is the main reason that such a great city grew up around it. It links the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River. The other most well-known fact about our little river is that, in a civil engineering feat, the flow of the river was reversed to actually flow away from Lake Michigan to help alleviate further polluting of our drinking water which comes from the lake.
24 Hours on the Chicago River
My three girlfriends and I got the opportunity for a fun escape in our hometown and learned a lot about the river at the same time. We started the sunny afternoon with a lovely al fresco lunch, fittingly, at the Bridgehouse Tavern.
Next up was the Wendella Boat tour of the river. If you plan to visit Chicago, this is a great way to see and learn about some of our amazing architecture and a great perspective from which to do it.
I truly do believe Chicago has one of the prettiest skylines in the world. Sure…NYC city is huge, but ours is nicer. There, I said it.
We chowed down at Hotel 71’s Hoyt’s restaurant on Wacker drive with a view of the river, but also saved room for dessert because later they graciously brought room service to our bridgehouse museum suite across the street. It was pretty fun to be staying at one of the premiere addresses in Chicago for the night. I wonder what rent would cost for this sweet, loft apartment right on the river?? Surprisingly, it was a quiet night’s sleep in our ‘penthouse’ or maybe it was the wine that helped lull us to sleep.
The next day we got in the river itself with Urban Kayaks and paddled up through the Loop learning even more about the city’s great thoroughfare.
Then…truly the piece de resistance…we got to do what few ever witness, we joined the big boys, and literally helped raise the Michigan Avenue Bridge. Tag team crews from the Chicago Department of Transportation leapfrog from bridge to bridge opening and closing them to allow the sailboats to pass underneath. You have to watch the video for this!