Sunday, December 21, 2008

My visit to Hyde Park

After a quick stop at bagel country to pick up a dozen bagels (15, actually, $9.20 w/Stroger tax), I headed down to Hyde Park in the -6 degree chill to have brunch with my friends S.J. and Michael and their adorable children, Sofi and Oliver. I zipped down the Edens and JFK express lanes, offering sympathy to the driver whose vehicle was getting a lift from IDOT at the express lanes exit around Chicago Avenue. (The lanes dumped me just south of the action, so I avoided the resultant backup.) I took the Stevenson to Lake Shore and exited at 53rd Street to reach my friends' home. The stop signs on 53rd were irksome and unnecessary. Four-way stops, even on a major street like 53rd. Does traffic need to screech to a halt every half-block?

After brunch, I make the short trip to the Museum of Science and Industry to see the Christmas Around the World exhibit. The ethnic Christmas trees are pretty. On another point: how is the venerable Museum reaching a 21st Century audience? The Museum is currently in upgrade mode, planning to modernize or replace about 95 percent of its exhibits. That's a relief. It still appears outdated, and maybe that comes in part from being in a massive 115-year-old building. I will admit the new U-505 pavilion is stunning. And I love the train exhibit. (Not decorated for the holidays, I'm afraid.) The Crown Space Center is impressive. "Science Storms" is coming in about 15 months. "YOU! The Experience" is coming in about six months. The Genetics exhibit (boring) looks very new. I'm just wondering if some of the Museum standards should be replaced. Farm Tech? Circus? Fairy Castle? The B-727 (okay, half of it) hanging over the train set seems so outdated and seems to exist mainly to thrill children who have never been on a flight before. Boeing rolled out the B-727 in the mid-'60's, I think, before it started working on its 747 widebody. I didn't mention the coal mine, but that's so beloved and impossible to replicate I'm sure it will be there for eternity.

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