I really dislike Chicago. It could be the wind, the cold, the inaccessibility, its politics, or some combination thereof. Up until last week, I would say that I hated Chicago. When I discovered I would be going to Chicago on a business trip (for RSA’s regional conference on the Work Innovation and Opportunity Act regulations), I predicted spending the majority of my time holed up in the hotel room, reading something on my iPad.
However, my sister decided to tag along. Despite having lived in the Midwest her entire life, she’d still never been to Chicago at the ripe old age of 25. Goal: Taking her to see the Bean. No reading for me.
After the obligatory photo session at the Bean, we decided to visit Navy Pier. We were thwarted twice, both occasions involving walking down long straights of sidewalk only to reach a curb at the end. As we made our way closer to the lake, I saw a kiosk for architectural boat tours. Were they accessible? No. The only place to load the boat in a wheelchair was at Navy Pier. On the bright side, the kiosk ladies directed us toward the most accessible pathway.
Despite the fact that boat tickets were more expensive at the Pier – $35 a ticket rather than $33 – I’m a nautical nut. If there is a boat ride available, I will find it – even in the middle of Arizona! (True story; ask my sister.)
The boat tour is frankly the reason why I no longer hate Chicago. I learned interesting facts about postmodern architecture, brutalism, and the Chicago Fire. Tour Guide Adam told us heinous stories about the Chicago River, including the fact that it was so filthy it lit during the Fire. He also explained that City officials rerouted the river, so that the filth would flow down to St. Louis rather than into Lake Michigan. (I guess I’m not alone in my dislike of Chicago…)
Anyway, I highly suggest the architectural boat tour for any fans of history, trivia, or boating. While they ramp was not ADA-compliant, it was easy enough for my power wheelchair to get on and off. Wheelchair seating was in a designated section, but was sufficiently spacious for me to turn around and look at buildings and bridges from all angles.