Tour lead by Enrique Ramirez.
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Chicago is an architectural interface with the world, outer space, and the universe beyond. Starting with this premise, this para-tour will first visit the various plaques, statues, and sculptures surrounding the Adler Planetarium, and then moves on to Northerly Island, a peninsula that was part of Daniel Burnham’s 1909 Plan of Chicago, as well as the Sky-Ride that enabled aerial views of the 1933 Century of Progress Exposition. Northerly Island was the site of the next point of interest—the tower and terminal belonging to Meigs Field, a small single-strip airport that was one the busiest private airports in the world before it was razed in 2003. Near here, we have the launching point for one of the most fantastically cosmic aerial views in architectural history: the heroic, otherworldy zooming out from Charles and Ray Eames’ Powers of Ten (1977). And for those die-hard nerds, coming to age in a pre-OSX, pre-Windows world, one where MS-DOS shells, Commodore-64’s, TRS-80’s, and Compaq Portables ruled the roost, Meigs Field was the point of origin for the first version of Microsoft Flight Simulator (1981). Flying out of Meigs, with your CRT screen as a windscreen, over which you glimpse a heavily pixelated network of line segments and solids that are “just” close enough to represent the Willis Sears Tower and John Hancock Center, you become one of the first explorers of a “virtual” Chicago. This history of the past, present, and future of Northerly Island may force a question, namely: will you take advantage of the opportunity, traverse the space and skies above the city, or will you just be okay looking at it through a screen or reading it on a page? In other words, and to invoke another aerial precedent—Tony Scott’s Top Gun (1986)—come to Northerly Island and find out whether you are a Maverick, forward-looking, adventurous, or an Iceman, obtuse, letting this opportunity slip by you like the fleeting air? Folks, to use the language of physics, it is a question of action versus reaction, of aerodynamic lift versus induced drag, an architectural drama made manifest by dint of the various representations of Northerly Island on films and computer screens.