People whirl through revolving doors. Sirens whirl and blare in
5-minute intervals. Potted wildflowers divide the North and South
lanes on Michigan Avenue. Children run splashing across a large
outdoor work of art: Two 30 ft tall screens project ethnic faces,
sporadically spit out water onto the children that wait anxiously
This is Chicago.
Ernest Hemingway, the father of modern literature, was born here.
So was the most notorious gangster of all time: Al Capone. Comedian
Bill Murray is from Chicago. The city’s most identifiable citizen,
one of the wealthiest and most influential women alive today, is
There is so much to do during the day that even the most decisive
person feels dumbfounded. We spent our days walking around
aimlessly, straining our necks to admire the world-renown
architecture. I shared an elevator with some German tourists, and
later found out that many people fly in from Germany to go on the
$10 “Mies and Modernism” architectural tour, which traces the
buildings of German-born architect Mies van der Rohe.
Chicago lacks a downtown "core" because every corner of
the city thrives in its own way – each one different, yet just as
fascinating as the next. The endless supply of 50-plus storey
condominiums and eighty-story buildings is astonishing. But you
don’t feel dwarfed by these towering edifices because of the
expansive, meticulously kept sidewalks and pleasantly “green”
streets. The windy city allows you to breathe, in the midst of an
Chicago’s appeal is broad because of its variety of
attractions. The Shedd Aquarium is located 25 ft underground and
boasts one of the most diverse collections of sharks in North
America. The Art Institute is internationally known for its French
impressionist collection, but also displays art from Renaissance
Italy and Ancient China.
But art isn’t simply contained within the museum walls: Modern
art pieces are scattered across the city’s several parks. Tourists
flock to the entrance of the United Centre to see the world-famous
sculpture of basketball legend Michael Jordan. The Uptown Jazz Club
is a living museum of 1930’s Chicago. Oh, and jazz bars are
Although jazz music and prominent players came to Chicago from
the south in the 1920’s (the "Jazz Age") to enliven the
city's nightclubs with their performances, the excitement still
resonates. One of the most scenic bars is located on the 95th (yeah
- 95th) floor of the John Hancock building, with floor-to-ceiling
windows and an unbelievable view of the city.
From the top of the city, you can admire all of Chicago’s
greenery, there are several major parks spread out across the city.
Grant Park is known as Chicago’s front yard, because it’s
situated right on the waterfront. Lincoln Park contains the
world’s largest free zoo.
After walking the city on our first day, my boyfriend decisively
declared: "Chicago does everything big!" He was right.
Chicago has the largest aquarium, the largest public library, the
largest candy factory, the largest food festival, the largest
collection of impressionist paintings outside of Paris, the longest
street, and of course, the tallest building in North America. The
Sears Tower is 110 storeys, and 1353 feet tall.
But we didn’t see any of these things.
Because there’s so much to see and touch and hear and taste
that unless you’re on a rigid schedule, it’s impossible to see
everything. We shopped along Chicago’s "Magnificent
Mile," a stretch of higher-end shops along Michigan Avenue. We
started at one end of the street, where we got a bird’s eye view
from the 94th floor observatory of the John Hancock building. After
dinner, we rushed to the other end of the Mile, where we hopped onto
a speedboat for nighttime, picture-perfect view of Chicago’s
skyline from 500 metres offshore. And don’t listen to what the
tourist guides say; the view is definitely better at night.
We watched fireworks flash and flicker from our 25th floor hotel
room. We ate deep-dish pizza. We walked along the lakefront towards
the world’s largest illuminated fountain, the Buckingham
("Married with Children" fountain). We rode on Navy
Pier’s Ferris wheel, and gazed at the city lights that twinkled
150 feet beneath us.
"It is hopeless for the occasional visitor to try to keep up
with Chicago – she outgrows his prophecies faster than he can make
them. She is always a novelty; for she is never the Chicago you saw
when you passed through the last time." Mark Twain was right. I
look forward to my next trip to Chicago.