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Skyscrapers of the Sea 





Tall Ships Chicago 2006 brings a touch of the 19th Century to the city's skyline

 -by Lynn Becker










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They're leaving tomorrow, Thursday August 10th, and they're not due back for several years. Today, Wednesday, August 9th is the last day to visit and board the 17 vessels in Tall Ships Chicago 2006, bringing to a close an eight-festival that set replicas of historic sailing ships along Chicago's lake and river. For $12.00 a person, you get a magic wristband that will give on-board access to all the ships, from 11:00 A.M. to 8:00 P.M., with a special fireworks show at Navy Pier at 9:30. Tomorrow, Thursday, August 10th, beginning at 9:30 A.M., bridges will be raised to allow the nine ships that have been docked along the Chicago River to pass into the locks and back onto Lake Michigan, joining another eight vessels docked near or along Navy Pier on a final promenade south along the lake to the Adler Planetarium, and then to their home destinations.

The entry of the ships on Thursday, the 3rd was dampened by a hazy, drizzling, overcast morning, but soon the sun came out, bringing out the first of what was projected to be over a million visitors.

Even the tallest of the ships tend to be dwarfed by the skyscapers that line the Chicago river, especially since they sit below them, at the original level of the city before the entire downtown district was raised high above the muck and mire of the mid-18th-century city. You almost forget that in their own time, these ships were among the tallest man-made structures, scraping the heavens on water as the spires of churches and cathedrals did on land. The way their lightweight sales were borne on the soaring, interlocking skeleton of masts makes them seem a precurser to the steel-frame construction that made Chicago architecture famous.

The 17 ships represent eight different vessel types, ranging up from single-masted sloops, to Schooners, a Caravel, a Ketch, all the way to a 3-to-5 masted Barque and Barquentine. (For those of you who are not naval experts, Barquentine is what you put on a Barque when it gets a scrape.)

A few selected photos follow.




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© Copyright 2006 Lynn Becker All rights reserved.