Photo Journal: Graceland Cemetery, Chicago

Graceland Cemetery
4001 N Clark St, Chicago
https://www.gracelandcemetery.org

I could tell you how Chicago’s Lincoln Park used to be the city’s premier burial ground until Chicago’s City Council banned burials there. Or that it was decided to move the city cemetery to what’s now Graceland. I could tell you that the cemetery spans 121 acres, and holds the remains of the city’s most eminent residents, including architects, sportsmen and politicians. I could harp on about how beautiful a garden cemetery it is, how it feels like you’re taking the most magnificent nature walk when you’re in the middle of it, which Chicagoans have been doing since it’s establishment in 1961.

Instead, I’m just going to show you how absolutely stunning Graceland is through some pictures I took when I visited late last year…

Cemeteries get a bad wrap for being creepy places. They generally don’t rank very highly on the traveler’s list of things to see and do. But Graceland felt much more like a museum crossed with a park than a burial ground. Visiting in autumn was magic, with all the leaves turning gold and red. The map you collect when you arrive is also particularly helpful, and adding to the museum vibe is the list of the important citizens buried there and a little biography of them all. And the only remotely creepy thing was the Eternal Silence statue below, and that’s only because Atlas Obscura told me that “looking into its eyes a person could see the nature of their own death…”

City of Chicago: 2017 Year of Public Art

Arriving back into Chicago again was exciting, and a big contributor to that excitement was a small billboard I saw on the train from the airport into the city; it was letting me know that 2017 was the Year of Public Art in Chicago = a whooole lot of street art to be found around the city!

I checked out the City of Chicago website for a little more information…

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) have designated 2017 the “Year of Public Art” with a new 50×50 Neighborhood Arts Project, the creation of a Public Art Youth Corps, a new Public Art Festival, exhibitions, performances, tours and more — representing a $1.5 million investment in artist-led community projects.

There were some incredible pieces scattered around, and I’ve added a few of my favourites below, but they’re helpfully created a few hashtags for you to follow if you’d like to see some more – follow #2017isYOPA or #ChiPublicArt for all of the art work!

 

Photo Journal: Cloud Gate at Millennium Park, Chicago

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Cloud Gate. The Bean. That weird silver thing. Whatever you want to call it, it’s become a Chicago icon since it’s unveiling and dedication on May 15th, 2006, nine years ago today. The man who can take credit for this beauty is an Indian-born British artist by the name of Anish Kapoor. It’s a 66ft long, 33ft wide, 110 ton stainless steel arch of sorts, inspired by liquid mercury, and providing the most beautiful reflections of a stunning city. It’s a favourite for both tourists and locals, and especially photographers; I got to Millenium Park at 6am on Christmas morning, 2014, to get these shots; it was more than worth the early start to be able to sit there for a while and watch the reflections as the sun came out.

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Milton Lee Olive Park, Chicago

It’s incredible how well hidden this park is in plain sight… It’s not like it’s particularly small, and it’s right near Navy Pier, yet when we visited, we were the only people around; it was completely deserted.

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Located just north of Navy Pier and just west of the purification plant, Milton Lee Olive Park is a beautiful little urban paradise. It’s the perfect spot to escape the city craziness of Chicago, while simultaneously enjoying one of the most beautiful views of the city over the water. The sand of the beach was spotless, the bare trees were beautiful in their own skeletal way, and the water was the most gorgeous shade of icy, winter blue.

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It always amazes me to find such perfect little paradises like this so empty and barren… I guess it just goes to show that city dwellers everywhere probably need to take a little more time to escape the hectic, fast paced lifestyle and take a little time to sit back and enjoy the beauty of a big city from a distance every now and then.

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Cook this: Chocolate bourbon pecan pie

My contribution to our early family Christmas was chocolate bourbon pecan pie. Not a traditional Aussie Christmas dish at all, but instead I figured I’d do something a little more representative of the country I’ll be spending Christmas in. Also, the recipe I found in one of my cook books was for straight pecan pie, but I felt like the addition of bourbon and dark chocolate could only be a good thing.

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Ingredients
– short crust pastry
– 3 tbsp plain flour
– 150g brown sugar
– 2 large eggs
– 200g golden syrup
– 200 g dark chocolate, melted and cooled
– 30g butter, melted and cooled
– 2 tbsp vanilla extract
– 3 tbsp bourbon
– pinch of salt
– 300g pecan halves – half crushed into smaller pieces, half left whole

 

Method
1. Grease a 9 inch pie dish and roll out the pastry to line it. Prick a few holes in the bottom with a knife or fork, line it with baking paper, fill with pie weights/rice/dried beans and bake for 15min or until the edges start to turn golden.
2. To make the filling which the crust is blind baking, combine the flour and sugar in a large bowl.
3. Whisk in the eggs, golden syrup, chocolate, butter, vanilla, bourbon and salt.
4. Mix in the crushed pecans.
5. Remove the pie from the oven and pour in the filling. Arrange or sprinkle the pecan halves on top.
6. Turn the temperature up to 200°C and bake for 10min, then lower the temperature back down to 170°C and bake for a further 45min or until set.
7. Rest in tin until cool enough to handle, then transfer to a wire rack to cool a little longer before slicing and serving up – with ice cream or thickened cream, preferably!