Chicago: The Heart of the Midwest
“The Windy City” as Chicago is also known is somehow always over looked among the popular big cities like New York City, Los Angeles or even Las Vegas. Nevertheless, Chicago is my Insiderâ€™s Travel Tip as it has its own charm and entices with many sights, an architectural pretty cityscape and a very lively city.
The metropolis Chicago has almost 2,9 Million inhabitants and is the 3rd biggest city in the United States. The City has been built on, what once was marshland and lies directly at Lake Michigan, which as a surface area of 58,000kmÂ².
Indians used to inhabit this area, who used to call it “Chicaugou”, which stood for great, powerful, magnificent and strong but could also mean “stench”. And this translation isnâ€™t even that far fetched, as wild growing onions used to grow rampant in this area.
Found in 1883, Chicago grew quite rapidly thanks to the economic boom in the mid 19th century. And the first ever skyscraper was built in 1885 in downtown Chicago. However, a large city fire in 1871 destroyed almost the entire centre, and with the following reconstruction it was possible to architecturally reinvent the centre. Today you will find extraordinary examples of modern architecture in Chicago. The large skyscrapers constructed of steel framework and the houses in the so-called “Prairie Style” by Frank Lloyd Wright especially standout. It is in Chicago you will find the tallest building of the United States.
It goes without saying that Chicago has much to offer in terms of sightseeing. Letâ€™s start with the masterpiece that is the Fountain of Time. This 30m long statue lies in the middle of the Washington Park. You will notice lots of sculptures and ornaments in the centre of the statue, called Father of time.
The Buckingham Fountain is the centrepiece of Grant Park and one of the most popular attractions in Chicago. It was opened in 1927 and is one of the largest fountains in the world. It was built in the Rococo style and features tiers like on a wedding cake. There are 4 sea horses on its side, which represent the 4 States that touch Lake Michigan: Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana and Michigan. It is known to be the allegorical representation of Lake Michigan. Buckingham Fountain offers many recreational, cultural and educational Events for visitors and residents alike. Throughout the year there are Festivals, parades and concerts.
Anybody interested in architecture will be thrilled with Chicago. Willis Tower at a height of 443m is the tallest building in the United States and the 3rd tallest building in the world. From the viewing deck you will get the most amazing view of the city and beyond (100km). When you think of Chicago you think of some of architecture’s most important names like Frank Lloyd Wright, Louis Sullivan, Mies van der Rohe, and Holabird & Root.
It is also in Chicago, where youâ€™ll find the Harold Washington Library â€“ the worlds biggest library, that has a page in the Guiness Book of Records. Apart from being absolutely fabulous, she is open to the public and has an excellent repertoire of children books.
As an international centre for culture, Chicago is famous for music, as it was here where the famous “Chicago Blues” was born. Famous representatives of the Chicago blues were the likes of Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf and Willie Dixon.
Dont forget to visit the Lincoln Park Zoo, which is among the oldest zoological gardens in the country (est. in 1868) but is also among the most modern. This amazing family friendly Zoo is not only open the whole year round, but also has a wide and diverse selection of species (well over 1200 animals). Although admission to the Lincoln Zoo is free, Parking is very pricey, so taking public transportation or even walking is a cheaper option, as it is not very far from other top attractions.
Gastronomically youâ€™ll find a variety of international cuisine in Chicago. The traditional deep-dish pizza or ribs can be found aplenty around the city. There are also very many steakhouses dotted around Chicago, and its way Chicago used to be called “meattown” of the USA. According to the natives, the true and original Hot dog comes from Chicago.
If youâ€™re looking for shopping opportunities in Chicago, the Magnificent Mile will do it more than justice. The Magnificent Mile offers over (!) 3.1 million square feet of retail space, 460 stores, 275 restaurants, 51 hotels, 2 unique museums. If you dont find what your looking for here, then it simply doesnt exist! The Magnificent Mile also offers a variety of sightseeing and entertainment.
Of course there is so much more to Chicago and I will cover that in other articles to come. But this should be a great starting point when you are planning your trip to Chicago!