I had never done Summer Streets before, but it's a very cool annual event, where almost seven miles of NYC streets are closed to cars and open to pedestrians and bikes. The Saturday before I left, I met some friends and we took advantage of this lovely day. This year, the city presented an interactive light and sound installation in the Park Avenue Tunnel called the Voice Tunnel. It was 1400 feet long with over 300 spotlights, making the domed ceiling look beautiful and eerie. There was also a place for people to record their voices, which were then played on speakers throughout the tunnel. The volume of the voices raised and lowered the levels of the lights. So, at times, the lights would go out completely and you would be walking through a NY street tunnel in the dark. It was vaguely creepy but also completely fun.
When I got to the line, the volunteers were telling people that the line was closed for the day. But I called my friend and found out he was in line already, although he was behind the 'closed' sign. But, as a true New Yorker, he was not deterred and stood his ground. Lo and behold, they opened up the line again! Woo hoo! The line moved pretty quickly - they passed out a liability waiver that everyone had to sign before going in. They also stamped your hand and checked your bag. It seemed every precaution was being taken, which was fine by me.
There were a lot of people, but it wasn't too crowded. You had enough room to really look around, stop when the lights went out, and just quietly experience the tunnel experience. I just thought it was so cool and I'm ever so glad I took my handsome friend up on his offer to join him. After exiting the tunnel, we sauntered uptown along Park Avenue, which was car-free. There was also a cute rest stop along the way, with a little 'beach' area and water fountains. It was a terrific way to spend a sunny day in NYC. I love that there are so many opportunites like this and I really need to take advantage of them more often.
The following Monday, I was off to Chicago. Since I'm spending a whole week here, I was determined to fit in some sightseeing. And once I heard about the Smith Museum of Stained Glass, I knew the first place I wanted to go. I've never been to Navy Piers, where this museum is located, and I LOVE stained glass! We literally landed in Chicago, had a little lunch, and another handsome friend and I jumped into a cab to head to the museum.
Navy Piers is a very touristy, yet still charming, spot along the lake. There were a lot of people, yet it was still pretty peaceful along the water. There are a lot of opportunities there to take a boat ride, also food kiosks and even a small amusement park. But we really wanted to see the museum. It's very near the end of the pier, so it was fun to get a look at everything before reaching our destination.
The Smith Museum of Stained Glass has 150 stained glass windows, dating from 1870 to the present. There are decorative windows, religious windows and some novelty pieces as well. The galleries extend over 800 feet and there's another separate gallery, the Driehaus Gallery, that has a lot of Tiffany-designed windows. So much gorgeous stuff and it was absolutely free! That's my kind of museum.
We couldn't get over how many gorgeous windows there were! But it was interesting - each one seemed more beautiful than the last, but once we got to the Tiffany windows, it was like, ahhhhh. THAT'S what they're supposed to be like. There's beautiful and there's BEAUTIFUL. At least in my opinion. It was also very fortunate that we were there on a beautiful sunny day. That only added to the shimmer of the stained glass. I'll include a bunch more photos at the bottom. It was just a lovely relaxing way to spend an afternoon - gazing at beautiful stained glass and strolling along a pier. Thumbs way up.