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New Aon Center Observatory Proposed + Benefit at South Loop's Weather Mark Tavern for Paul Bauer

What’s making neighborhood news this month: a new sky-high attraction steps from Millennium Park that would put Grant Park and all its lakefront beauty in the spotlight. A proposed observatory offers up a new way to take in the spectacular South Loop views. Another downtown attraction gets high marks from TripAdvisor. Public art adds to the cultural landscape in a new installation being considered along the Chicago Riverwalk. And a special event takes place in the South Loop to honor Chicago’s fallen hero.

1) Glass Elevator Attached to Skyscraper Would Overlook Grant Park

Chicago’s third tallest building could be upgraded with a brand new observation deck in a plan being proposed by the owners of the downtown high rise. This initial proposal for the Aon Center (200 E. Randolph St.) features an exterior elevator tower sheathed in glass on the building’s northwest corner, leading visitors up 1,000 feet to a viewing area overlooking the lakefront parks. This placement on the exterior of the building accounts for the limited space inside to add an extra elevator shaft, and allows visitors to have a separate way up that doesn’t disrupt office tenants. The new concept places the tower and double-deck elevators in a location that would not be visible from Millennium Park or neighboring Maggie Daley Park, though they could be seen from North Michigan Avenue—a change made following concerns that it would be too visible.

Photo by: Keri Wiginton / Chicago Tribune

Photo by: (Keri Wiginton / Chicago Tribune)

New York-based owners, 601W Cos, have not released renderings or detailed plans at this stage. Chicago Tribune reports this is “very early in the approval process” and considerable time for review and feedback will follow. After buying the 83-story tower in 2015, ownership informed Crain’s Chicago Business that they planned to invest tens of millions of dollars on upgrades, and use the 82nd floor, which has 40-foot ceilings, and the top floor for some combination of bar/restaurant space and an “interactive entertainment experience”. A third Chicago observatory competes with the city’s two other existing tourist attractions: Skydeck Chicago and 360 Chicago.

2) Commander Paul Bauer Fundraiser Event on March 2

The South Loop’s Weather Mark Tavern (1503 S. Michigan Ave.) hosts a benefit fundraiser for fallen Chicago Police Commander Paul Bauer. Join neighbors in support of the Bauer family from 7pm-1am on Friday, March 2. The neighborhood restaurant and bar, located not far from Chicago Police Department headquarters, will bring together celebrity and guest bartenders and include an appetizer buffet, music and raffles as part of the $15 donation for entry into the event.

Paul Bauer Event South Loop

Get more event details and consider contributing if you cannot attend. Donations can be made to: The Chicago Patrolmen's Federal Credit Union c/o The Paul Bauer Family

3) South Loop Restaurants: Submit Your Application for Taste of Chicago

Taste of Chicago, the annual food and music festival set in Grant Park, has opened the application period for vendors to take part in the 2018 event. Grant Park has served as festival grounds for the massive, multi-day event for nearly four decades. Plan to see more than 1.5 million guests enjoying food tents, chef demos, live outdoor concerts and all-ages activities as nearly all spaces of the lakefront park are activated—from Petrillo Music Shell in Butler Field to surrounding Buckingham Fountain.

Taste of Chicago Food Vendor Application

Vendor information and applications for neighborhood restaurants can be found online at The 2018 Taste of Chicago is set for July 11-15.

4) Loop Art Installation Will Be the Largest Digital Art Display in the World

Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs have proposed a permanent, large-scale lighting installation to span the entire façade of the Merchandise Mart. Known as Art on theMart, the art projection would be curated as an ever-changing series of art works that would turn the building into a 3-acre canvas each evening beginning at dusk.

DCASE Art on theMart Announcement

Public art continues to be a priority for the City, as has been activating the spaces along the water—both the Chicago Riverwalk and lakefront parks such as Grant Park saw additions to their public art collections in the last few years. If passed by City Council, the Art on theMart project will be curated in Fall 2018.

5) Chicago Tour Ranked Second Most Popular Global Attraction

The millions of visitors coming to Chicago to enjoy the architecture and beauty of the skyline have made one Chicago attraction top in the world. Travel website TripAdvisor announced that Shoreline Sightseeing's Architecture River Cruise is the world’s second most popular attraction. This is the second time in two years the tour boat company topped the list, which is based on TripAdvisor booking data each year.

Shoreline Sightseeing Architecture River Cruise

Photo by Roark Johnson

Shoreline Sightseeing operates from five downtown dock locations, including one along Lake Michigan in Grant Park—the Museum Campus dock brings water taxi service to a location right outside the Shedd Aquarium.

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