Monday, March 29, 2010

How Did You Celebrate Earth Hour?

This past Saturday night, you may have taken an hour out to honor the Earth by unplugging unneeded appliances and turning off the lights to save electricity. Some friends of mine planned to host candlelight only dinner parties. The local media was hyping that even the skyscrapers were turning out the lights during Earth Hour.

That got me to thinking. I wanted to see what Chicago looked like in the dark. I have an annual pass for me and a guest to hang out at the Observation Deck of the John Hancock Building (which I got from Groupon) and I thought this would be the perfect place to spend Earth Hour and witness the city in all its dark glory.

I grabbed my friend Tony, made a quick stop at Raw, where I purchased the most amazing hummus and raw oatmeal I'll ever eat and made a new friend in the owner, Polly, and then we were off on our latest adventure.

Our first stop was the Mity Nice Grill at Water Tower Place, where we enjoyed a yummy reasonably-priced dinner and watched all the teenagers dressed up for a high school dance awkwardly navigate their over-sized suits and too-high heels. My personal favorite was the guy in the seersucker pants that did not match his seersucker jacket. He wore that suit with style.

After dinner, we made our way to the top of the John Hancock Building (or the Big John as those "in the know" call it - at least according to the recording you hear on your way to the top), where, as always, we were captivated by the 360 views of the city and Lake Michigan. I think we arrived about 8pm and with Earth Hour still 30 minutes away, the City was still completely lit.

Finally about 8:25, lights started going out. The Sears Tower (really, I just can't call it the Willis Tower) went dark, as did the Trump Tower, Aon Center, 900 North Michigan Ave, Water Tower Place and the Water Tower across the street, the Fourth Presbyterian Church, and the Merchandise Mart. Even Navy Pier turned off all the lights including the Ferris Wheel and the Golden Arches at the Rock 'n Roll McDonald's were darkened.

I was pleasantly surprised at just how many buildings went dark for an hour on Saturday, but was shocked at what a nominal impact that had on the amount of light in the city and beyond. All the streetlights were still on, as were many store lights along Michigan Ave. While all the decorative lighting was turned off, many store windows were as bright as ever.

Although I had really hoped to see the city noticeably darkened, I was impressed with the number of buildings that took the opportunity to reduce their carbon footprint, even if just for an hour.

Check out these before Earth Hour and during Earth Hour pics:

Navy Pier & the Water Filtration Plant about 8pm.

Navy Pier & the Water Filtration Plant about 8:45pm. Notice the missing Ferris Wheel.

Aon Building, Trump Tower, the crown building (that's what I call it because I don't know the real name), and the Sears Tower (aka Willis Tower) about 8pm

The Aon Building and Trump Tower turned their lights out first.

Finally, Willis Tower turned their lights off and the crown building dimmed theirs.

900 N. Michigan Ave. before Earth Hour.

900 N. Michigan Ave. during Earth Hour.

All pictures taken by me.

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