From the water is a great way to view a city skyline, and a recent trip included stunning water vistas of both Chicago and Pittsburgh. Chicago, especially, is known for its architectural gems, and a well regarded architectural tour of them, cruising along the Chicago River, conducted by the Chicago Architecture Foundation. The tours start at the First Lady dock, on the southeast corner of the Michigan Avenue Bridge at Wacker Drive (112 E. Wacker Drive).
More touristy speedboat tours leaving Navy Pier also profess to cover the architecture along the river and from Lake Michigan. The photo above was taken on a cloudy summer evening from a private boat out of the Chicago Yacht Club. Even several miles out, the buildings displayed their individual character along the lakefront.
In 1958 a prescient businessman started a tour boat business in Pittsburgh, well before the city’s remarkable clean-up. A less likely tourist attraction would be hard to imagine. But the lure of seeing the city by water was an immediate success, and today the Gateway Clipper operation operates numerous boats and themed tours (many for kids) from its dock on the Monongahela River.
The basic tour takes passengers past Point State Park, where the Mon joins with the Allegheny River to form the Ohio River. From here you can travel down the Ohio to the Mississippi, all the way to New Orleans, the Gulf of Mexico, and the world. On the Allegheny, the tour passes under many historic bridges and past Heinz Field and PNC Park, where the Steelers and Pirates play, respectively. Pittsburgh’s legacy as home to many of America’s largest corporations is amply evident in its impressive and diverse architecture.