Travel Guide - Chicago
Chicago is one of the great cities of the world and one of my favourite
destinations for long weekend getaways. Here you will find some
useful information about this city that will enable you to plan
your own escape to Chicago.
In 1673 French explorers Jacques Marquette and Louis Joliet passed
through what is now Chicago. Chicago's first European settler was
Jean Baptiste Point du Sable, a fur trader from Santo Domingo of
French-African descent. He built the first settlement in 1779 at
the mouth of the Chicago River. The construction of the Illinois
and Michigan Canal provided a connection between Chicago and the
Mississippi and fueled population growth in the area in the 1830s.
In 1837 Chicago was incorporated and had a population of 4,170.
The city became a transportation hub in 1848 when the Illinois and
Michigan Canal was completed and the first locomotive arrived. Chicago
was also known for its stockyards which served the nation between
1865 and 1971.
On October 8, 1871 the Great Chicago Fire (supposedly started when
a cow kicked over a lantern) started and claimed 300 lives, left
90,000 residents homeless and essentially destroyed the entire city.
This turned into one of the greatest opportunities for rebuilding
and within just a few years the entire city was reconstructed.
During the second half of the 19th century, the city’s growing
industrial worker population campaigned for better working conditions,
better wages and an eight-hour work day. There were several clashes
between workers and the police, the most well known was the Haymarket
Square Riot of 1886.
|Wrigley Building & Tribune Tower
||Looking west up the Chicago River
In 1893 Chicago hosted the World's Columbian Exposition that attracted
nearly 26 million visitor during its six-month run. In order to
provide transportation to the fair, the Chicago Transit Authority
introduced the first elevated trains to Chicago. Today the system's
"L" train encircles the city's central business area,
referred to as the "Loop". Chicago's cultural interests
can be traced to this era, when its orchestra, library and major
museums were established. In 1909 Daniel Burnham's comprehensive
city plan was published which provided an unobstructed lakefront,
a citywide system of parks and a green belt of forest preserves.
Alternate periods of corruption and reform characterized the city’s
political history in the early 20th century. In the summer of 1919
race riots erupted throughout the United States, the worst occurring
in Chicago on July 27. The riots shocked the nation and prompted
many to launch efforts toward racial equality through volunteer
organizations and reform legislation. The prohibition era during
the 1920s saw a lot of gang activity. Al Capone was the most well-known
of gangsters. His illegal activities culminated in the Saint Valentine's
Day Massacre of 1929, a violent shootout to eliminate his competitors.
He was convicted of income tax evasion in 1931, sentenced to 11
years in prison and was released on parole in 1939. Crippled by
syphillis he spent the rest of his life in a mansion in Miami Beach,
In 1933 Chicago hosted the the World Fair, dubbed "A Century
of Progress", to show the technological accomplishments of
civilization since the city was incorporated. The fair attracted
39 million visitors in a two-year period.
Richard J. Daley was elected Mayor of Chicago for the first of
six times in 1955. For 21 years, Daley served "the city that
works'. During his time in office, O'Hare International Airport
(which became the world's busiest) began operations, the Sears Tower
(one of the world's tallest buildings) was erected and McCormick
Place Convention Center (the largest in North America) opened.
In 1976, Mayor Daley died in office. Since then, Chicago elected
its first female mayor (Jane Byrne in 1979) and its first African
American mayor (Harold Washington in 1983). In 1989, Mayor Richard
M. Daley, son of Richard J. Daley, was elected mayor and still holds
The city of Chicago has increased its exposure as a world-class
city by hosting the World Cup Soccer Tournament in 1994, the Democratic
National Convention in 1996, the International Pow Wow in 1998 and
an International Millennium Celebration in 1999/2000.
||"Cloud Gate", a.k.a. "The Bean"
Chicago's multicultural heritage is reflected in its neighbourhoods,
which now attract thousands of visitors each year. It is home to
nearly three million people from all over the world. People of African,
Chinese, German, Greek, Vietnamese, Italian and Scandinavian descent
are among those who have made Chicago their home. After Warsaw,
Chicago has the second largest population of Polish people in the
Chicago is the birthplace of modern architecture. From historic
landmark buildings to contemporary masterpieces, Chicago is home
to unique and innovative designs that have shaped American architecture.
Chicago is a living museum of architecture, thanks to geniuses such
as Daniel Burnham, Louis Sullivan, Frank Lloyd Wright, Ludwig Mies
van der Rohe, Helmut Jahn, Frank Gehry and many others.
Chicago is world-renowned for its diverse collection of museums,
which explore a variety of subjects, including Chicago history,
art, African American culture, astronomy, natural history and more.
The Museum Campus, located in Grant Park, features the John G. Schedd
Aquarium, the Adler Planetarium and the Field Museum of Natural
History. Other famous Chicago museums include the Chicago Historical
Society, the Museum of Science and Industry, and the DuSable Museum
of African-American History. Various ethnic groups, including the
Mexican, Polish, Lithuanian, Swedish, Greek, Ukrainian and Jewish
population, have their own museums, showcasing their history, art
and costumes. The Museum of Contemporary Photography and the Museum
of Holography will appeal to individuals with an interest in visual
Chicago can be explored by foot, bus, bike, boat or plane and its
famous landmarks can be discovered on land, river, lake or in the
sky. The Chicago Architecture Foundation offers guided walking and
river tours to explore the city's unique architecture.
Chicago has thousands of restaurants serving a variety of culinary
delights to suit every taste, every budget and every mood. Taste
of Chicago is an annual festival featuring house specialties
from dozens of the city's restaurants. It is held during the last
week of June and first week of July and attracts hundreds of thousands
of culinary fans.
|Art Deco architecture
||The "Corn Cob" Buildings
Shopping in Chicago began on State Street, the center of the Loop.
The original and flagship Marshall Field's department store opened
in 1852 on State Street. The famed "Magnificent Mile"
that runs along Michigan Avenue from the Chicago River to Oak Street
offers hundreds of specialty shops and boutiques presenting top-of-the-line
goods from around the world. Oak Street features designs from Paris,
Milan and Manhattan.
Navy Pier offers more than 50 acres of shops, restaurants, gardens
and entertainment attractions. It holds a 15-story Ferris wheel,
an IMAX theatre as well as the Chicago Children's Museum. Kids
on the Fly is a "satellite" Chicago Children's Museum
located at O'Hare International Airport that entertains and educates
children during layovers or waiting times at the airport. The Children's
Zoo at the free admission Lincoln Park Zoo includes live animal
presentations, a petting zoom, a zoo nursery and a hands-on learning
center for kids.
Chicago is one of the hot beds for jazz and blues. Jazz began to
spread from the South between 1910 and 1920 and Chicago became the
nation's jazz center in the 1920s. "Chicago style" jazz
also originated in the 1920s and during the 1930s, Benny Goodman,
a one time child prodigy from a poor Chicago family, was established
as the "King of Swing". In the 1930s and 1940s blues eventually
came north to Chicago and has remained a popular music genre ever
since. Today the city features many jazz and blues venues and hosts
a variety of music festivals throughout the year, including the
the Chicago Jazz Festival, the Chicago Blues Festival, the Chicago
Gospel Festival, the Chicago Country Music Festival, the "Viva
Chicago" Latin Music Festival and the World Music Festival.
|Greenstone Church, Pullman Historic District
||Rowhouses, Pullman Historic District
Parks and Recreation
Chicago features 7300 acres of parkland, including 552 parks, 33
beaches, nine museums, two world-class conservatories, 16 historic
lagoons, 10 bird and wildlife gardens. Historic Grant Park and newly
created Millennium Park are among the most well-known of Chicago's
green spaces. Chicago also features 6 golf courses, 9 lakefront
harbours, and a multitude of tennis courts for outdoor recreation.
The waterfront trail along Lake Michigan's shoreline is a mecca
for joggers, bikers and in-line skaters.
Chicago is a big sports town and home to several professional sports
teams, including the Chicago Bulls (basketball), the Chicago Bears
(football), the Chicago Cubs (baseball), the Chicago White Sox (baseball),
the Chicago Blackhawks (hockey) and the Chicago Wolves (semi-pro
hockey). It holds historic sports venues such as Wrigley Field,
Comisky Park - now known as US. Cellular Field, and Soldier Field.
and Tourism Bureau
Useful books about Chicago:
Hello from Chicago - First
Hello from Chicago - What
a fabulously photogenic city!
Hello from Chicago - Multiple
Hello from Chicago -
A personal tour of the Chicago Cultural Center
Hello from Chicago - A
visit to the Pullman Historic District
Hello from Chicago - Chinatown
and Second City
Hello from Chicago - The
Field Museum and "Pompeii - Stories from an Eruption"