Chicago and its suburbs are located on the southwestern shore of Lake Michigan, one of the five large inland lakes known as the Great Lakes. According to Trackaah, the third largest city in the USA (almost 2.7 million residents) is considered the birthplace of skyscrapers – the first high-rise in steel frame construction was built here in 1884 – and these still shape the cityscape today.
The nickname “windy city” refers to the climatic conditions in the city – since there are no natural borders such as mountains and hills, the city is largely exposed to wind and storms, but has its origins in once “windy” politicians. Today the Chicagoans prefer to see themselves as the “cheesecake capital” of the world.
Chicago is an important business and science location, 7 nationally known universities can be found here, many large companies have their headquarters here. The convenient location on the transcontinental route from New York via the Great Lakes to the Pacific coast meant that an important railway junction was created here at an early stage; the train station is still the largest in the world today. The airport and inland port form the economic center of the American Midwest and are at the top of the world rankings.
The gang crime of the 1920s with Al Capone and others is history. Nevertheless, Chicago is still considered one of the more unsafe cities in the United States and the crime rate is relatively high.
The Chicago Loop Alliance (website) provides a wealth of information on the Loop on its website (events calendar, hotel and shopping information, cultural tips). New are three so-called audio tours in English in mp3 format, which can be downloaded and used together with an associated map as an individually explained city tour.
The most popular holiday is March 17th – St. Patrick’s Day. The Chicago River has been colored green on this day since 1962 and the Irish rule the city.
Ethnic residential areas
Chicago was and is a gathering place for people of different origins and so neighborhoods have emerged that are dominated by certain population groups, among others Chicago is the largest Polish city after Warsaw:
||Cermak Rd. And 22nd St.
||between West Chicago and West Grand Ave.
- Chicago Greeters (www.chicagogreeter.com)
Locals from Chicago guide those interested through their city to hot spots and attractions for free. The tours last 2 or 4 hours.
- Chicago from the Water
Numerous companies offer sightseeing boat tours. A list of providers with links to further information is available from the tourist office (website) under the keyword “Sightseeing Boats”.
- GoChicago Card (www.gochicagocard.com)
The GoChicago Card offers free entry to more than 25 attractions and tours as well as savings and discounts on shopping, restaurants, etc.
Climate and Weather
The summer months in Chicago are usually very warm, occasionally hot with high humidity and a lot of rain. Winters have little snow but can be very cold with icy winds. The best travel times are late spring and early autumn with warm, dry days and cool nights.
Chicago O’Hare International Airport (code ORD) is located 18 miles northwest of downtown and is one of the busiest airports in the world. The John F. Kennedy Expressway (I-90) runs from the airport to the city center. Fast trains from Terminal 3 offer a fast and inexpensive connection to the city center. Chicago Midway International Airport (code MDW) is smaller and is 10 miles southwest of downtown. Official website: www.flychicago.com
The most famous dish from Chicago is pizza, especially the thick Chicago style pizza. Pizza with a thin crust is called here “tavern pizza” (pub pizza). The Chicago Style Hot Dog, a frankfurter in a bun, was born at Fluky’s.
Oak Park (www.oak-park.us)
An absolute must for anyone interested in modern architecture. The ideas of Frank Lloyd Wright and the Prairie School of Architects, who among others, were decisive for the development of the settlement. George C. Maher, Robert C. Spencer Jr. and Thomas Eddy Tallmadge were members. Particularly noteworthy are the Frank Lloyd Wright House & Studio, the Unity Temple (1908; one of the first concrete structures), the Fricke House and Heurtly House (both 1902), the Martin House (1903) and the Cheney House (1904). Oak Park’s most prominent son is the writer and bullfighting enthusiast Ernest Hemingway who is honored both in a museum (200 N. Oak Park Ave.) and in the house where he was born (339 N. Park Ave.) (both only open Fri-Sun).
Brookfield Zoo, Evanston (www.brookfieldzoo.org)
Enclosures with more than 2000 animal species, children’s zoo, safari train and dolphin shows.
Chicago Botanic Garden, Glencoe, Lake Cook Rd. (www.chicagobotanic.org)
20 different themed areas, daily tours and tram rides.
Six Flags Great America
Via I-94, Rte 132. E., Gurnee (www.sixflags.com), largest amusement park in the Midwest.
George Pullman, the inventor of the luxury railroad car, dreamed of a model settlement for the workers in his company and built it between 1880 and 1884, 22 km southeast of the city of Chicago. In the center the one named after his daughter Hotel Florence, now a museum.