Chicago is full of beauty. Beginning December 4 at 7 pm, join WTTW’s award-winning host and producer Geoffrey Baer on a new adventure to explore The Most Beautiful Places in Chicago 2. Come along to discover the stories and people behind the many eye-popping spaces and places around Chicago, from sparkling mosaics and historic homes to public parks and gardens to intricate facades and architectural marvels. (WTTW Chicago)
“Near the end of a fine WTTW-Ch. 11 program called ‘The Most Beautiful Places in Chicago’ that first aired in early March and remains available online, host Geoffrey Baer said, ‘There is more beauty in Chicago than is possible to fit into one program.’
“True enough, or so he has us believing with his delivery of ‘The Most Beautiful Places in Chicago 2’ at 7 p.m. Dec. 4. It comes with his typical curiosity, enthusiasm and boosterism, a combination he has been using effectively ever since starting his television career more than 20 years ago.
“He is the writer/host of this program, produced by Bridget Sarno, which takes us to many places, some familiar and some not at all. He spends valuable time at the Chicago Cultural Center, that glorious building that rose as the main branch of the Chicago Public Library in 1897, was saved from demolition by the quiet but persuasive efforts of Eleanor ‘Sis’ Daley (wife of Richard J. and mother of Richard M.) and in 1991 became the Cultural Center.
With architect and restoration expert T. Gunny Harboe by his side, Baer gives us a fairly extensive and enlightening tour of the building. It is wonderful to see the world’s largest Tiffany stained glass dome there as well as the restored Grand Army of the Republic Memorial Hall and Rotunda (but a bit of hopeful hyperbole to have Baer comment that people walking through the space can ‘feel the sacrifice of those who fought slavery.’)
There is a lot packed into this hour. We visit a Lake Shore Drive underpass stunning in artistic style and historical import, with an ‘Indian Land Dancing’ mosaic, from creators Chris Pappan and Debra Yepa-Pappan and the Chicago Public Art Group’s Tracy Van Duinen. In Pilsen we encounter muralist Mauricio Ramirez, explaining the lively art of the area, such as an Aztec eagle warrior adorning a brick wall.
On the Far South Side, author and architecture critic Lee Bey is wonderfully passionate as he explains the quiet art deco majesty of his alma mater (and also that of the late Dick Butkus), Chicago Vocational High School. He also comments on the inequities that exist in the fact that the twin Prairie-style high schools designed by Dwight Perkins are not accorded similar stature, with the Northwest Side’s Carl Schurz High School widely admired and honored while the South Side’s James H. Bowen High School is not. (Bey’s ‘Southern Exposure: The Overlooked Architecture of Chicago’s South Side’ from Northwestern University Press, 2019, is an essential addition to any Chicago bookshelf).” (Kogan, Chicago Tribune, 12//22/23)