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Northampton School for Boys

Northampton School for Boys

NSB Chicago 2018

A collection of students' impressions compiled by Y13 student Charlotte Shaw and NSB Art teacher and trip organiser Mr Stanforth

"Having the opportunity to go to Chicago was a once-in-a-lifetime experience."

The 5.30am departure from school; although anti-social was the start of an incredible 6 days which gave us all a new viewpoint on life.  The 9 hour flight soon became 11 due to a passenger not turning up and his luggage being removed from the hold. We therefore had to wait the extra 2 hours to experience the amazing ‘Windy City.’ We were not disappointed with our first impressions; experiencing the immense skyscrapers towering down upon us and the hustle and bustle at street level accentuated by the continuous rattle of the loop trains overhead.

Once we had checked into our accommodation Downtown we were soon out to explore further, our first taste of the Chicago subway took us north to visit the Hancock Tower. The skies were lit up by the lights below as we nervously took our ride on the ‘Tilt’ experience slowly lowering us out from the 94th floor.

Our boat trip along the river allowed us to understand and explore the huge variety of amazing architectural structures from a relaxing perspective. We saw the Gothic towers, elaborate golden decorated facades, curved forms inspired by nature, Art Deco design and the clean cut forms of the Modern Movement were an architect’s paradise. Even the Apple Store was designed by a prestigious architect: Sir Norman Foster. But this is Chicago and therefore you need to shop! The Magnificent Mile was the perfect place to spend our dollars!! It seemed there was every shop you can imagine, with numerous shopping malls to entice you. Even Miss was treated to a traditional Chicago ‘shoe shine’, she seemed somewhat embarrassed when he immediately realised her boots had never been previously cleaned!

The 35 minute train journey out to the suburb of Oak Park, where amazing houses were getting ready for Halloween, displayed American vernacular homes at their best - this could have been a set for a movie. In such a quiet area we found the home and studio of the architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Our guided tour around his home was an insight into his thoughts and ideas and highlighted his attention to detail in his designs and commissions. This was followed by a tour around Unity Temple appreciating his use of design in a religious setting.

The impressive views along Lake Michigan shoreline were stunning from Navy Pier’s ferris wheel. The turquoise colour of the lake mirrored the sunny skies above enhancing the dazzling reflected buildings of the city.

The elevator seemed to take seconds to reach the 103rd floor of the Willis Tower as our ears popped before walking out to a twilight vision of the city. This was no fun for the nervy! Glass pods protruded out of the building to invite the brave and daring - not everyone made it!! The confident and foolish posed for selfies and performed handstands watching the ant-like people far below!

The renowned Art Institute of Chicago houses some of the most famous paintings and sculptures in the world. Our guide encouraged us to engage in conversation, answer questions and analyse compositions on mainly American Art. Not only did this benefit our understanding of Art further but it gave us the confidence to look at and respond to works of art which perhaps the non-artists on the trip would otherwise not experience. Monet, Degas, Hockney, O’Keeffe, Richter and Koon’s were all represented in a gallery with terrific views of the neighbourhood. The sculptures we visited during ours walks were impressive, where else can you climb on and slide down a Picasso?! Or climb up a leg of a sculpture by Abakanowicz? - This won the selfie of the tour! Anish Kapoor’s ‘Cloudgate’ was a favourite amongst us, photographing ourselves and the cities distortions in the shiny ‘bean’.

The final activity and a favourite for some was a visit to the Aquarium, the whale and dolphin show was an attraction which certainly ended our stay with a Splash!!

Obviously, the amazing restaurants we visited cannot go ignored and we probably ate enough food to last us the winter. You can’t go to Chicago without sampling the infamous Chicago Pizza, what a delight!

What also cannot be ignored is the amazing care and guidance that was given from both Mr Stanforth and Mrs Rutherford. Thank you for making our visit to the States so enjoyable and allowing us the opportunity to travel!



Northampton School for Boys, Billing Road, Northampton, NN1 5RT
01604 230240