Chicago11 things to do and see in Chicago and 1 not to do
For greatness, Chicago is the third largest city in the United States after New York and Los Angeles. We are therefore talking about a metropolis of over two and a half million inhabitants that become even nine million considering the urban agglomeration all around. The landscape is typically American: dominating the scene are the skyscrapers, but they are not lacking green areas e pedestrian spaces. Special mention for music: if you love jazz and blues, this city is definitely the right place for you. It is in Chicago, in fact, that the director John Landis made the film in 1980 "The Blues Brothers" with John Belushi e Dan Aykroyd, and it is always in Chicago that artists of the caliber of Muddy Waters e Buddy Guy. It's not over, because the city also begins most famous highway in the United States, and probably of the world. Let's talk about the Route 66, one of the most shining myths of that"American way of life" that has so deeply marked Western culture. Below we see together the main attractions of the city, some of which are concentrated in the Loop, the most touristic of the Chicago neighborhoods. Happy reading.
1 Millennium Park
Major US cities have always been the focus of massive urban transformation. Chicago is no exception. In 1997, in fact, on the impulse of the then Mayor Richard Michael Daley a huge area in the heart of the city has been transformed into public park, putting an end to the centuries-old control over it by the Illinois Central Railroad railway company. Instead of tracks and parking lots, they quickly took on life and shape works with an ultramodern design which have certainly not struggled to establish themselves as a tourist attraction. We speak in particular of the Jay Pritzker Pavilionand Crown Fountain and Cloud Gate, the three flagships of the Millennium Park of Chicago. The first is a music pavilion designed by the architect Frank Gehry, to which the city also owes the construction of the BP Bridge that connects Maggie Daley Park with Millennium Park. Especially in spring and summer in this structure with exceptional acoustics, performances ranging from jazz, indie rock, blues (the Chicago Blues Festival is held every year in the first week of June in Millennium Park). The Crown Fountain, on the other hand, is made up of two square towers on whose main facades the faces of a thousand Chicago citizens are projected. In summer, the water of the fountain gushes from the mouths of each of these faces. A detail that attracts many tourists, rightly intrigued by the optical effect. Last but not least, the Cloud Gate, otherwise known as "The Bean" ("The bean"). This is a silver sculpture by the artist Anish Kapoor, whose walls reflect the sky and the city skyline (see photo). In reality there is much more to see in Millennium Park: we point out, en passant, the Lurie Garden and McCornick Tribune Ice Rink (skating ring). To learn more about the history and other points of interest of the park, refer to Official site: www.millenniumpark.org.
2 Michigan Avenue
And the Chicago shopping street, a real one temple of consumerism with over 400 stores including several major brands of fashion and hi-tech. Precisely for this ultra-commercial vocation it is also known as "The Magnificent Mile", and is undoubtedly one of the things to see in Chicago. However, it would be simplistic to focus attention only on shop windows: Michigan Avenue, in fact, it houses some of the most important skyscrapers in the city. Among others, the Wrigley Building, for whose shape we were even inspired by the Giralda, the stupendous bell tower of the Cathedral of Seville; then the Water Tower, among the very few buildings to have survived the terrible fire that razed the city to the ground in 1871; and especially the John Hancock Tower, another unmissable stop which we will discuss more fully in the rest of the article. First, however, we need to focus onArt Institute (see next point), an authentic Chicago flagship, also this one, among other things, based in Michigan Avenue. For more information: www.themagnificentmile.com
3 Art Institute
Collect, preserve and interpret works of art of the highest quality from different contexts and eras. This, in short, the mission of the Art Institute of Chicago since 1879, the year of its foundation. And that things actually went this way there is no doubt, given the global fame acquired during the twentieth century. Just to mention some of the artists present, without claiming to be exhaustive: Monet, Manet, Chagall, Dalì, Picasso, Wahrol, Wood, Seurat and Hopper follow one another in the endless rooms of this museum just one kilometer from Millennium Park. Seeing everything takes many hours and, precisely to meet those who have little time available, the museum has organized a short itinerary that reviews only some of the works of the permanent exhibition. The aforementioned artists are all there, including Edward Hopper with his very famous one "Nighthawks" ("The Nightwalkers"), one of the paintings that most marked American contemporary art (and not only) during the twentieth century. In short, the Art Institute is truly an unmissable stop on a trip to Chicago especially since, despite the fame, it is almost never necessary to book in advance, nor do you have to put up with endless queues. For more information on history, works on display, opening hours and ways of visiting, consult the Official site: www.artic.edu.
4 Willis Tower
Second skyscraper in the United States, preceded only by One World Trade Center in New York, Willis tower it is another essential stop on a visit to Chicago. Reason? The spectacular Skydeck on the 103rd floor. These are four balconies made of glass and steel panels that protrude on the western side of the building giving visitors the feeling of being suspended in the air. An attraction that annually attracts almost two million visitors who, in addition to the adrenaline experience, greatly appreciate the view that can be seen from this observation point. The panorama, in fact, not only embraces the Chicago skyline but, on particularly clear days, reaches 4 states: Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin and Michigan. In short, a truly extraordinary experience for which, given the extraordinary turnout, we recommend the early booking. For more information on Willis Tower (also known as "Sears Tower") consult the place: theskydeck.com.
5 John Hancock Center
One of the most turistically debated questions in Chicago is which - between Willis Tower and John Hancock Center - is the skyscraper with the most beautiful view. It goes without saying, to get an idea of your own you have to see them both, a circumstance that is far from inconvenient considering that they are beautiful experiences. There is also another reason why these buildings are worth seeing up close: both were designed by the same company, la "Skidmore, Owings and Merrill", and by the architects themselves, Fazlur Khan e Bruce Graham. Returning to the initial question, it can be said that the view fromobservatory on the 94th floor of the John Hancock Center encounters fewer obstacles than the other skyscraper. A positive effect, in fact, is Lake Michigan which occupies an important part of the view. A particularly significant detail in two cases: at sunset and in the middle of a storm, even better if seasoned with lightning and lightning. Another noteworthy detail is the TILT, full-wall glass that tilts horizontally towards Michigan Avenue giving visitors the impression of being suspended in space. The range of adrenaline experiences at 360 ° Chicago (this is the name of the observation point of the John Hancock Center) does not end there, however. In fact, every day there are news, especially for lovers of photography and painting. For more information see the place: 360chicago.com.
6 Navy Pier
At the beginning, we spoke of Millennium Park as a successful urban transformation project capable of changing the face of the city for the better. Well, that's not the only virtuous example of this kind that can be given about Chicago. Woe to forget the Navy Pier, the former municipal pier, since the 90s of the last century, the main tourist attraction in the city. The numbers speak for themselves: in 2016, the centenary year, visitors even exceeded 9 million. There are in fact many things to do and see in this area of about one kilometer that runs alongside Michigan Lake. From Ferris wheel, Chicago Shakespeare Theater passing through the hi-tech rides in this space there is guaranteed fun for everyone: adults and children. Especially the latter, in truth, considering the presence in the vicinity also of the Chicago Children's Museum. During the summer, do not miss the spectacular ones fireworks that illuminate the lakefront creating a unique atmosphere. Returning to the initial speech, the Navy Pier in recent years is at the center of a new redesign whose purpose is to combine the popularity achieved with greater environmental sustainability. For more information see the Official site: navypier.org.
7 Museum of Contemporary Art
In addition to the Art Institute, Chicago's art-museum panorama also includes the Museum Contemporary Art (MCA). This museum was founded in the late 60s of the last century with the aim of bringing the public closer to contemporary art. To achieve this objective, various initiatives have been put in place over the years, including the setting up of exhibitions in which the artist, together with the finished works, also exhibits the works not yet finished, perhaps, when the conditions exist, using precisely the museum spaces for their completion. However, when this is not possible, the use of technology is not disdained with the preparation of multimedia exhibitions. It does not end here, because the involvement of the public also passes through conferences, symposia, round tables in which the discussion on painting, sculpture, photography inevitably it extends to the local context (the role of contemporary art in Chicago) and global (the role of contemporary art in the world). For more information: www.mcachicago.org. Finally one curiosity: about a mile from the museum is theOriginal Playboy Mansion, the building where in 1959 the epic of the magazine of the same name with the famous "bunnies" began. Later, Hugh Hefner, the creator of “Playboy” moved his headquarters and business to Los Angeles. To be seen!
8 Lincoln Park
Il Chicago's largest public park is an important escape valve for the residents who find it here Different solutions for leisure. By zoo, lakeside beaches, passing through the Historical Museum and Fruit and Vegetable Market, the things to do and see are really many, it being understood that the changing of the seasons affects the activities that can be practiced outdoors. Inevitable, therefore, to include the park and the neighborhood of the same name among the unmissable stops of a trip to Chicago, especially for those who travel with their children. Also worth seeing is the mausoleum dedicated to Abraham Lincoln. The statue, called "Standing Lincoln", depicts the 16th President of the United States absorbed in his thoughts before the delivery of one of his famous speeches. Oratory art refined by practicing as a lawyer in the State of Illinois; this is a circumstance that Abraham Lincoln has in common with another President of the United States: Barack Obama. Not to be missed!
9 Wrigley Field
You don't need to be a baseball fan to visit Wrigley field. In fact, despite being the stadium of the Chicago Cubs, the popularity of the building goes beyond the sporting aspect. The "Friendly Confines" or "Cubs Park", as it is called, is located north of the city, in the area of Lake View, and among its peculiarities there is precisely the fact of being one with the neighborhood in which it stands. To better understand what we are talking about, it is sufficient to consider that the roofs of the buildings around the stadium since the 80s have been transformed into "Bar-restaurant terraces" ("Rooftop Seats") where, upon payment of the ticket, you can attend a Cubs game or, better still, one of the concerts that periodically take place there. To have performed in this stadium, among others, i Pearl Jam, whose frontman, Eddie Vedder, a native of Chicago, is a fan of the team. So passionate that he made a documentary film, "Let's Play Two", in which its history crosses that of the team in the year of winning the Major League title (2016) after a fast of over 100 years. For more information see i sites: www.cubs.com and www.wrigleyrooftopsllc.com.
10 606 Trail
The history of 606 Trail is very similar to that of the New York High Line. A abandoned elevated railway line that thanks to virtuous partnership between public and private, is transformed into urban park available to residents and tourists. A public space designed and organized to connect people ("Community connector") through sport and the creation of events. About 4 kilometers of route on the north side of the city - between W e Logan square - where until the 80s there were the tracks on which freight trains ran and where, instead, since the beginning of the millennium, you can ride a bike, run, walk or, why not, sit on a bench and relax. Maybe in conjunction with some temporary exhibition or some other public event. For more information see the place: www.the606.org.
11 Field Museum of Natural History
Il Field Museum of Natural History (FMNH) is another unmissable stop on a Chicago vacation. Reason? The presence, on the main floor of the museum, of Sue, the largest specimen of Tirannosaurus Rex never found (see photo). An attraction that fascinates both adults and children alike thanks to the curators' ability to combine scientific interest and a popular spirit. By the way, Sue is not the only dinosaur present. There "Evolving Planet" exhibition, on the second floor of the museum, houses other skeletons of "lizards" that lived millions of years ago. That's not all. In fact, large space is also dedicated to the exhibition "Inside Ancient Egypt". It is a series of perfectly preserved Egyptian mummies of which, through the use of non-invasive technological research tools, it has been possible to discover details and details hitherto unknown. As for the dinosaurs, also in this case, there are other very interesting testimonies: mummies from Tibet, Peru and the Pacific Islands whose comparative study has allowed to find extraordinary affinities between cultures thousands of kilometers away from each other. other. In short, the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago is absolutely worth a stop, especially as there are two other very popular attractions within 500 meters: theaquarium (John G. Shedd Aquarium) And the planetary (Adler planetarium). Each year these three structures attract thousands of visitors, contributing greatly to Chicago's tourist fame. To be seen!
1 Beware of pickpockets
The same precautions apply to Chicago as all other metropolises in the world: do not run with a lot of cash; do not carry the wallet in the back pocket of the trousers; do not leave the bag unattended at the table in the room; do not wear particularly expensive watches, rings, bracelets, earrings; avoid public transport at night and so on. For the rest, do not worry: it is sufficient to avoid the peripheral areas to avoid any danger. Indeed, the inhabitants of Chicago have even managed to transform the "criminal" fame linked to the exploits of Al Capone into a tourist attraction: for years, in fact, there has been the possibility of booking a guided tour that retraces some of the most sinisterly famous places of the Chicago 20s. The tour, with actors dressed in period clothes, moves between reality and fiction, alternating real events with others, instead, borrowed from the successful film by Brian De Palma "The Untouchables" with Robert De Niro (in the role of the Italian gangster American), Kevin Costner, Sean Connery and Andy Garcia. For more information see the place: gangstertour.com.