Wesson students explore the Lincoln Park Zoo "in the shadow of the Chicago skyscrapers."
Wesson Weekenders Take in Chicago
Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men's blood. ~Architect Daniel Burnham
New Hampshire is generously endowed with mountains. The state of Illinois, however, was not so lucky.
Perhaps to make up for their state's lack of earthly protrusions, Chicago created the skyscraper. Not long after the Chicago Great Fire leveled much of the city, the invention of the elevator allowed architects to break the stair barrier. Towering constructions like Burnham and Root's massive Montauk Building jumped up to 10 stories and above for the first time in history. The innovative Chicago School of architecture was born.
Around a century later, the Colby-Sawyer College Wesson Honors Program adventurers made this city the destination for the program's third annual weekend trip. Led by professors Beth Crockford, chair and associate professor, Business Administration, and Jody Murphy, assistant professor, Business Administration, eight honors students flew west to encounter these mountainous buildings firsthand.
This year's students included Kristina Stalnaker '09 (Nursing), Samuel Moore '09 (Graphic Design), Sarah Heaney '08 (Art Education), Angela Eastman '08, Kara Watts '07 (English), Jessica Randall '07 (Child Development), and myself, Kate O'Neil, a senior English Education major.
Coffee, Navy Pier and More
Our first stop in the Windy Citynamed for its windbag politicians, not its brisk breezeswas for coffee. Our second stop was the Lincoln Park Zoo, a free park just north of downtown Chicago and, as advertised, a world of wildlife in the shadow of skyscrapers. Other visits that day included Navy Pier, a city landmark since 1916 and now, recycled as a downtown mall, tourist attraction for its shopping, dining and carnivallike gaiety. The pier also includes a 150-foot-high ferris wheel, which originated in Chicago at roughly the same time as the skyscraper at the 1892 World's Fair.
That same afternoon, we were lucky enough to board a boat speeding right through the city via the Chicago River. The architectural boat tour was a unique way to encounter all of the historic buildings that make up Chicago.
We could really get a view of the city from the inside, my fellow visitor Kara Watts told me. Chicago is such a great epicenter for fabulous modern and historical architecture. There's an entire school of architecture devoted to the Chicago style. The boat tour was a great way to see everything in one fell swoop.
Business in the City of Big Shoulders
Sunday found our group sampling the business side of the city, at the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME). Similar to the trading floors in New York City in all but its specialization in agricultural trade, CBOT was formed in 1848 to standardize prices for farmers' produce and to establish fair trade for both for buyers and sellers.
CME began with the same intentions, although it originally dealt mainly in butter and eggs. Devoted today to things like options and future contracts and even such exotic instruments as the weather, much of the trading at the CME is done electronically. We were lucky enough to see the more traditional method - traders clad in color-coded jackets relying on hand signals and pure aggression to trade thousands of millions of dollars in the pits, steps in circles that lead to low spots on the floor.
|The souvenir shot against the Chicago skyline.|
View from the 94th Floor
Of course, we found time to soak in Chicago from its highest peaks, visiting both the John Hancock Center Observatory and the Sears Tower. The Hancock Observatory wrapped up a busy Sunday and allowed us a view of the city lights from the 94th floor (1,000 feet high).
The Sears Tower, once the world's tallest building, afforded us a daytime view of the city from 1,450 feet and 110 stories high.
With antennae, the Sears Tower stretches to 1,725 feet. Although this isn't as tall as New Hampshire's most popular mountain, Mount Monadnock, at 3,165 feet, we were nonetheless treated to a spectacular view of the city and the state. This momentous feat of human construction, and our Chicago experiences, will stay in our memories long after we leave Colby-Sawyer College.
-KATE O'NEIL '07