River City Architecture From Above: Foto Friday

Earlier this week I took the photo below of the River City apartments. I was working for a special event at the Willis Tower. It was a group of Italian doctors in town for the ASCO annual meeting (American Society for Clinical Oncology) in Chicago. While usually the special events I coordinate are curated private tours, in this case it was my Italian language skills that were needed.

Italians in Chicago

I have lived in and traveled around Italy for a total of a few years, first as a student stumbling through simple phrases. Later I was hired with the Rick Steves tour company as a professional tour guide, and then my Italian got really good.

Despite that I speak fluent Italian, I rarely get to take Italians on architecture tours around Chicago. One is simply that for Italians, Chicago is not a top American destination for them. They are much more familiar with stories of Al Capone than our top-notch restaurants, beautiful beaches and parks, and cultural attractions that I know many Italians would love. And secondly, Italians tend to still vacation during their traditional month of August. It’s pretty much the only month of the year that I get booked for private tours in Italian of Chicago.

River City from the 90th Floor

So enough of my rambling about Italy. The reason I am telling you all this is because this is why I ended up on the top of Willis Tower. I was helping out for an event of a meeting and dinner with Italian doctors. While the clients were occupied, I had some moments to snap photos of the Chicago architecture, and here is one that I particularly enjoyed.

chicago architecture river city gold

I love this snippet of the Chicago skyline for a few reasons:

1. It’s a rare area of undeveloped land.

2. It includes the Chicago River and boat parking.

3. River City looks like a backwards letter “S.”

Architect Bertrand Goldberg built his River City in the ’80s. It’s of course modeled after his iconic Marina City. Guests from our Private Yacht Charters always remember it for being so distinct and so lonesome on that stretch of the river.

I tried really hard to get a good picture of the spider crawling around on the outside of the window I was photographing through on the 99th floor, but my iPhone just couldn’t snap quickly enough to capture his little legs without a blur.

— Amanda Scotese, Executive Director



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“Our guide Ellen was exceptional and gifted with a great personal touch.”


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Whether you are a first-time visitor or a lifelong resident, the vibrant history and modern majesty of Chicago never ceases to amaze. I’m a graduate of Columbia College with an M.A. in Interdisciplinary Art. I’ve worked for many years as an educator at City Colleges of Chicago. As tour guide at Chicago Detours, I integrate my enthusiasm for culture and architecture with my passion as an educator. West Town/Noble Square area is home for me.

“Jen was a perfect storyteller and kept us spellbound for hours.”


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With our Chicago neighborhoods, vibrant cultural institutions and nearly two centuries of larger-than-life stories, there’s never a dull moment here! I’m a fifth generation Chicagoan and a graduate of Washington University in St. Louis. In addition to guiding tours, I’m a creative writer and amateur genealogist. I also enjoy the city’s dynamic theater scene. You can also read overlooked stories from 19th-century newspapers on my “Second Glance History” blog. I live in River North.


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“Marie was a bubbling fountain of information and contagious enthusiasm.”


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As a fourth generation Chicagoan, I have been living and loving Chicago by bike, on foot, public transit or automobile. I am a graduate of UIC where through the College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs, began my eagerness to understand the nature, history and impacts of urban planning and development. It is incredibly rewarding to give back to this wonderful city by helping out in the office of Chicago Detours. I live in the incredibly diverse neighborhood of Albany Park.
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Amanda Scotese

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