I took this photo of the top of the Carbon and Carbide building from my 33rd floor hotel room on the opposite side of the street.
According to local legend, the top of this 1929 building is supposed to resemble the gold foil on a champagne bottle--and certainly, when the light is right, it lives up to the story.
But just see the magnificent detail at the top! Flowers and medallions, ladders and vines. None of which can be seen from the street below. None of which can be seen from the rooms themselves. Even if you were to stand on the piazza on top and look up, you would miss so much of the beauty of this building.
And at the time it was built, almost nothing else comparable was there! Of course, Chicago was busy developing its skyline, but even now, surrounded by high-rise hotels full of camera-phone wielding tourists, there are aspects of this facade that none of us can see.
Which begs the question--who was all of this hard work intended for? Was this a wave a God? A greeting to aliens with dubious intent? Or just the desire on the part of the architect to create his best work because he alone would know if he skimped on one single sheet of gold leaf?