Advantages The contrasting architecture. Music. Relaxing Parks.
Disadvantages Parking fees. Rush Hour.
|Value for Money|
|Ease of getting around|
~~A is for Architecture~~When Chicago was all but destroyed by fire in 1871, there arose from the ashes one of the most famous skyscapes in the US if not the world. Chicago was home to the first ever skyscraper, a steel-framed ten story building, the Home Insurance Building built in 1885 and demolished in 1931 to make way for even taller cloud busters (as they were known way back when). Ten storeys, although no doubt impressive then, are mere small fry compared to today's skyscrapers - the Sears Tower standing at 108 storeys and The Trump Tower (currently under construction) is planned as 150 storeys high.
Travel up to the giddy heights of the Sears Tower ($12.95 Adults and $9.50 children) or the Hancock Observatory (15$ adults, 9$ children) to look down upon the city for a overarching and breathtaking view of the architectural cityscape or take one of the informative and entertaining Architectural River cruises (£34 adults, $20 children) to get a unique view of the contrasting architectural styles that combine to make Chicago (highly recommended). Or do all three - we did!A surprising range of architectural styles exist. Sitting comfortably among the modernist glass, concrete and / or steel buildings are the Neo-Gothic Tribune Tower Howell and the French Renaissance Style Wrigley Building not to mention the limestone Water Tower (the only building to that survive the great fire) and now a museum.
The architecture was one of the main reasons, I chose Chicago as the starting point for our planned road trip. I wanted to experience a different cityscape to that of England. I was not disappointed!~~B is for Buckingham Fountain~~
Buckingham Fountain, located at the centre of Grant Park, is one of Chicago's most popular landmarks. The fountain is at the center of a formally laid out garden.The fountain' s design is based on the 'Bassin de Latome' at the Versailles Palace near Paris and was built by Edward H. Bennett. The fountain itself consists of three layers of basins surrounded by four pairs of bronze seahorses
It is one of the largest fountains in the world rising more than seven meters high (23ft) and 85 metres in diameter. There are a staggering total of 134 jets with the central jet reaching up to 46 metres (150ft) high.The best time to see the hourly 20 minute display is at twilight when the fountain is beautifully animated with a computerized sequence of colours.
~~C is for Chicago Cubs~~Chicago's Major League Baseball Club, the Chicago Cubs, play home games at Chicago' Wrigley Field which built in 1914 is the US second oldest baseball field. For just 25$ (about £13), you can have a 90 minute tour of the grounds and clubhouse.
I should here mention that Chicago has a second Baseball Club, the Chicago Sox, however as I didn't visit their clubhouse I cannot comment further.~~D is for Driving~~
Almost all reviews of Chicago mention the mad and bad driving with warnings not to attempt driving whilst visiting! As we had a hired car for our road trip with our very first journey from the airport through Chicago to the hotel, I was more than apprehensive! I was happy to find though that on the whole, drivers were courteous and law-abiding!Of course Chicago is a city, so be prepared for rush hour congestions in the mornings and early evenings. The biggest problem with driving through Chicago is the parking - fees are astronomical!!
~~E is for Eating Out~~Chicago caters for every possible taste from hot dogs to haute cuisine and for every purse from as little as £1 to £25 per person per meal.
To savour a true Chicago style hot dog, visit the Weiner Circle open till late.Visit Gibson's steakhouse. They provide a great welcome and offer giant sized portions. Expect a giant sized bill to go with it though! Average price per person is 50$ (approximately £26) - drinks not included.
~~F is for Fire~~The Great Chicago Fire broke out on October 8th 1871. Rumour has it that a certain Kate O'Leary's cow kicked over a lantern in the barn starting the fire that devastated the city; killed 300 people and made at least 100,000 people homeless. References to the Fire are found everywhere!!!
Which brings me nicely to G . . .
After the Great Fire, most of the debris was pushed into the lake creating what is now known as Grant Park. The park is divided into sections with lawns, trees, bridges and various monuments including a statue of Abraham Lincoln.Grant Park is home to Chicago's Museum Campus. The Field Museum of Natural History, The Children's Museum, The Shedd Aquarium, The Alder Plantation and The Art Institute of Chicago are all to be found there. It would take a few days to see them all!!!
Of course you can relax in the park afterwards - very peaceful.~~H is for House of Blues~~
The other major reason for Chicago was music. Our theme for the road trip - music.The House of Blues is a chain of music halls and restaurants founded in 1992 Dan Ackroyd and Isaac Tigrett (Hard Rock Cafe founder). Dan Ackroyd is famous of course for The Blues Brothers filmed in Chicago.
The House of Blues hosts a number of live concerts mostly blues (surprise, surprise). Our reason to visit - the famous Gospel Brunch (£45.50 adults, $22 Children)!The brunch is an amazing buffet with a carvery, salads, fruits, southern specialities and muffins (to name but a selection of goods on offer). All this whilst you are coaxed to your feet with the foot tapping, hand clapping Gospel band performing on stage.
An incredible experience not to be missed!!~~ is for Illinois~~
Chicago is the largest city in Illinois and home to approximately 3,000,000 people.~~J is for Jazz~~
Chicago jazz made its name in the 1920 with the musical revolution led by jazz greats including Louis Armstrong, King Oliver, Benny Goodman , Eddie Condon and Bud Freeman.You won't (sadly) get to see any of the greats now but live jazz concerts abound in Chicago. Try Andy's Jazz Bar, Green Mil or Wind's Café for an entertaining night out!
~~K is for Kitchens (Soup) and Capone~~Al Capone moved to Chicago when he was 20 years old. Whilst in Chicago, he ordered dozens of deaths. Despite his ruthless reputation, Capone, personally opened soup kitchens to feed the needy after the 1929 stock market crash.
Soup kitchens still abound in Chicago visited by the thousands of homeless people - yes I am assured that it is thousands!~~L is for Lake Chicago~~
Lake Chicago is the ancestor of Lake Michigan which is one North America's five great lakes. Chicago lakefront runs for 28 miles with twenty-nine man-made beaches. The sand is imported!! The lake appears incredibly clean and many swim in its waters (no we didn't!).
M is for Millennium Park
~~N is for Navy Park~~Navy Pier is a 3,000 foot pier on Chicago's shoreline built in 1914. During World War II, the US Navy began to use the pier for training purposes.. Today, the pier is a massive tourist attraction housing among other things a children's Museum, A Museum of Stained Glass Windows, a Shakespeare Theatre Complex and a giant Ferris wheel.
~~O is for O'Hare Airport~~The O'Hare international airport is located in the north west corner of Chicago. Named after a World War II flying ace, Lt. Cmdr. Edward "Butch" O'Hare, the airport was built in 1942. It has the accolade of winning the best North American airport for the past ten years!!
~~P is for Parking~~Parking in Chicago is same for any major city - extremely difficult!! Parking can cost anything from $7 - $17 for 1- 4 hours and between $15 and $24 for 5 - 24 hours!
If you're visiting more than one venue - it gets very expensive!!~~Q is for Queue~~
The only queue we really encountered was for the Cheesecake factory!!! We thought Britain was bad for queues - Chicago's Cheesecake Factory queue is like its food - bigger!!~~R is for River~~
Not only does a river run through Chicago, it runs backwards!! Originally, the river flowed into Lake Michigan however this allowed sewage into the clean water source for the city. In 1900, the Sanitary District of Chicago, completely reversed the flow of the river using a series of canal locks and caused the river to flow into the newly completed Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal. Just one of the anecdotes told on the River Cruise.The river is some 156 miles long with 52 moveable bridges! On St Patrick's Day, the river is dyed green!!
~~S is for Shopping~~Shopper's Paradise is to found on Chicago's Magnificent Mile. All the big names are here from Disney to Bloomingdales.
Bloomingdales alone has six floors of shopping with hundreds of the top brands to choose from. Shopping can get very tiring!!~~T is for Trolley Tour~~
Chicago's operates a hop-on hop-off trolley tour daily except Thanksgiving, December 10th, Christmas Day, and New Year's Day. The tour lasts for 2 hours from start to finish but of course you can get on and off as many times as you wish. A pre-recorded tour is given through head phones available in many languages. The tour costs $26 for adults and $15 for children. You even get a voucher for a free Hershey's chocolate bar and Garrett Popcorn sample!~~U is for Union Station~~
Chicago's Union Station was built in 1925. It is one of the last remaining grand American railway stations. The waiting room is well worth a visit with the 112 ft high vaulted skylight, marble floors with long benches and marble walls.~~V is for Verse~~
Chicago has inspired song writers aplenty to put pen to paper. Among the most memorable are My Kind of Town performed by Frank Sinatra, Sweet Home Chicago from the Blues Brothers, The Night Chicago die by Paper Lace and Chicago, that Toddlin' Town.We did hear them all during our holiday!!
~~W is for Windy City~~Chicago can be very windy. Walking along the open-sided skywalk in the Hancock Observatory - you will feel the coldness of the wind!
That is not the reason for Chicago's nickname however. It was coined by the newpaper editor Charles Dana in 1893 after listening to two long winded politicians!As well as the wind expect rain and sunshine all within a few hours.
~~X is for Xplore~~There are many ways to explore Chicago; by river cruise, by trolley ride, by horse and carriage or by foot! Each offers a different view of the city. To get a total picture, you have to do all four!
~~Y is for Yellow Taxicabs~~Founded by John Hertz in Chicago in 1915, the Yellow Taxicab is the oldest and largest taxicab U.S.
Hertz chose yellow as the easiest colour to spot. He was right - they do stand out. Rates are reasonable - better than paying parking fees!~~Z is for zzzzzzzz~~
There is a wide variety of places to rest your head in Chicago from grand hotels to apartments at a wide range of prices. We stayed at the Chicago City Centre Hotel & Sports Club which changed its name to Double Tree Hotel Magnificent Mile between the times of booking to our arrival.
Attention, this is the first review from this author
Instead of giving a negative rating, consider:
Help this member by giving your advice
Report fraud (for example plagiarism) or other issue with the review to the Ciao support team
Add your comment