Bolts and boots

On Saturday, I went with my wife and sons to the Garfield Park Conservatory on the west side of Chicago. It was, I think, the first time we’d been there since the big Dale Chihuly exhibit over a decade ago.1 That’s too long. It’s a nice way to spend a couple of hours on a winter day.

My wife took lots of photos of the plants, but wasn’t very happy with any of them. I think she’d feel better about the photos if the memory of the actual plants weren’t so fresh in her mind. Photographs can’t capture the overall experience.


As you might expect, I took more photos of the conservatory’s structure than I did of the plants. Not that I didn’t like the plants, but how often do I get to see riveted trussworks up against a deep blue sky?

Truss arches

The conservatory display houses were built in 1907, back when riveting was still king. There are some areas with a mixture of square-headed bolts and rivets. I assume the bolts came in when the structure was repaired or braced. Although not as cool as rivets, square-headed bolts (as opposed to hex-headed) still give the display houses an old-timey feel.

Rivets and bolts

You may need to click on the photo to see the fasteners in detail. Which I’m sure you want to do.

The other fun thing to look at was the passing crowd. Lots of older gardening enthusiasts, of course, but also lots of young, urban hipster types. My older son noticed that many of the dudes were wearing L.L. Bean-style duck boots, which have become very popular among the beard oil set.

Interestingly, none of the duck boots we saw were authentic L.L. Beans. They were all knockoffs, but with higher-end labels. Probably much more expensive than the real thing.

Unfortunately, I was wearing just an old pair of Nikes. I could’ve wowed them all if I’d worn these babies.

LL Bean duck boots

Not only are they authentic, they’re vintage. I’ve had them since graduate school, over thirty years ago.

  1. His glass lily pads are still in the pond in the conservatory’s Aroid House