Inaugural Lakefront Trail Ride of 2012


Chicago is yellow! And pink! All of the blossoms of Spring are up and blooming. The cherry blossoms on the trees along the lake front trail are out and looking gorgeous. But this is after all Chicago. So by next weekend our flirtation with summer wear grinds to a halt as the temperatures begin dropping back to something more seasonal.

We parked at the UIC Campus and headed south to the Caribou Coffee across the street from the University Village site of Rapid Transit bike shop. Then it was back down to Roosevelt Road where we headed due east in the bike lane all the way to Grant Park.

On the northeast corner of the intersection of Roosevelt Road and Michigan Avenue stands a sculpture garden installation called Agora. Wikipedia has this to say about the installation:

Agora Sculpture Garden - Grant Park - Chicago, IL

Agora is the name of a group of 106 headless and armless iron sculptures at the south end of Grant Park inChicago. Designed by Polish artist Magdalena Abakanowicz, they were made in a foundry near Poznanbetween 2004 and 2006.[1] In 2006, the Chicago Park District brought the work to Chicago as a permanent loan from the Polish Ministry of Culture.[2] Similar installations have been constructed throughout the world, butAgora is among the largest.[3]

Chicago, which has a large Polish American community, had hoped to add a major work by Abakanowicz for several years before Agora arrived. Among the plans which were not realized were a large hand to be placed at the end of BP Pedestrian Bridge and a set of animal sculptures to be placed near the Monroe Street harbor. One proposal called for a group of headless figures be placed in Chicago’s Museum Campus. Chicago MayorRichard M. Daley eventually suggested placing an installation at the south end of Grant Park, near Roosevelt Road.[4] By 2006, private donors, including actor Robin Williams, contributed over $700,000 to bring the work to Chicago.[5]

I made a half dozen images in and among the sculptures. There were a half dozen others with their cameras whirring in unison with mine. Off to the east of the grassy area is an artist painting her t-shirt. She has an oil cloth on the ground onto which she applies large daubs of paint. Then she lies down and rolls all over the paint thereby applying it to the shirt she has on. Really fascinating!

We cross the pedestrian bridge and head over to the Museum Campus area. The Lake Front Trail is awash in bicyclists, joggers and pedestrians. We stay close to the shoreline of the lake as we head northward towards Navy Pier. I opted to take the longer way around the Lake Point Tower Condominium to view the magnolia blossoms. Then we wind our way through the park just north to reach the Lake Front Trail as it follows the shoreline up to North Avenue.

We cross under the Lake Shore Drive and head inland along North Avenue all the way to Milwaukee Avenue. There we pull into Native Foods Cafe in Wicker Park and enjoy a fine luncheon. Lots of folks eating outside with their pooches and babies. A fine day for being outdoors! Our waiter is delighted that Spring is finally here and we all agree it has come none too soon!

I made the mistake on the way back to the van of taking Wolcott Street rather than Wood Street. But it happens that I came across a gem of a elementary school building as a result. This structure was built in 1902 and is gorgeous. It is named after Mancel Talcott.

Their mission and vision statement read as follows:

Talcott Fine Arts & Museum Academy aspires to provide an education that results in all children learning and performing at high academic levels. Learning reflects: content area state standards, the fine arts, and museum partnerships. We strive to teach all children through a commitment to best practices, by reflecting on our professional practice and by measuring our outcomes through relevant student performance data. Children are provided a safe learning environment with a challenging and innovative academic program. Through a commitment to all subject areas, learning partnerships with museums and fine arts integration both children and their parents are invited to become active members of the Talcott learning community.

A lady is walking her small poodle mix along the sidewalk and watches as I take pictures. The dog is profoundly curious about the bikes we are riding. She has never seen anything like them and approaches warily. But her curiosity and friendliness overcome her fear and we hit it off. We say good and head off a block east to Woods which is where I should have been. Sometimes getting lost provides benefits that are profound.

As we reach the Little Italy area I spot a steeple that beckons. It belongs to the Notre Dame de Chicago Parish church. Like the school building it is a structure from a not too distant past that has a beauty that is persistent despite the decades. I capture images while standing in the street. Now I put the camera away and make a beeline for the parking lot and the van.

It has been a very good day! Good riding and nice images are always a great thing.

Cyclomter Info

Distance: 13.4 miles
Time: 1h 45m 56s