Chicago

Chicago started as a Native American settlement in the 1700s. After the Northwest Indian War, the area that is now Chicago was turned over to the military, and they built Fort Dearborn in 1803 on the Chicago River.

In 1833, after getting stomped by the British in 1812 and then the later forcing the relocation of the Indians to the west, the city was incorporated with 200 residents.

The city grew astoundingly from that point. The great fire of 1871 destroyed the wooden portions of the city's businesses and housing. It was rebuilt from steel and stone, as most of the industry had survived, and the city continued its growth.

The city was home to the 1893 Columbian Exposition, the most influential Worlds Fair ever held, hosting 27 million visitors. This put Chicago firmly on the world stage but serious health issues with its growth came to a head around this time.

To combat the frequent cholera outbreaks associated with dumping your sewage into the lake where you pump your water from, they reversed the flow of the Chicago River to drain out to the Mississippi. It was both a huge undertaking and a triumph of engineering, and almost eliminated these types of diseases.

World War One helped industry expand and created lots of jobs. There was a huge influx of southern blacks who were part of the 44,000 to 233,000 person population boom during the 20s and 30s. There were and still are race tensions from that influx.

The Great Depression hit the city hard, and as the Republicans were in power and didn't have a solution, it destroyed their base in the city. To this day, it's a Democratic stronghold bar none.

The second World War brought back prosperity, and transportation, industry, and business combined to make Chicago America's second city after New York. Things continued to go well until the 60s when discrimination worked to impoverish the black communities. This effect is still noticeable and seen on the south side today.

After the 80s, the city began to work on its core of being a true centralized focus city and at the heart of it are downtown and the Loop, which are just gems. Other areas have suffered from this focus.

The Arrival

I have taken the Amtrak from St. Paul in a very comfortable roomette. The scenery coming into Chicago was limited as it's in a ground level corridor that's heavily built up.

On that trip, I exited at Union Station, walked to the L, and took the subway to North River and my hotel. Even with only a carry-on, it was a bit challenging navigating the stations and egresses.

On the next trip, I drove down and parked a block away from the Palmer House (the traffic was indeed hell).

On my latest trip, I flew down and took the Blue line subway to Adams Street in downtown. Of the 3 options, I think I like this one the best so far, but if you're bringing a lot of people and live within 5 hours, I would probably drive.
Grand train stations like this are becoming a thing of the past
Such detail in the internal decorations

The Architecture

Chicago is an astounding place for architecture, and many of the world's best were given free reign to design the skyscapers that dominate the skyline quite a long time before New York got into the act.

Greek Revival and Gothic buildings abound in the Loop area, which was the original and traditional downtown. As the city expanded away from the Loop, the architecture began to transition to Italian Renaissance and then into modern styles.
Bold choice in green and gold, Carbide and Carbon Company, bold choice Union League private club, one of many in the city and just happens to be one where I have access Fourth Presbyterian Church on Michigan
Big Red, the CNA Capital Corporation's headquarters Location of several Saturday Night Live stars' drug overdoses.  2nd tallest building in Chicago Former tallest building in the world.  110 stories of sheer Midwest might
It will always be the Sears Tower in my mind Victorian department store, Carson Pierre Scott.  No longer exists Greek imposing culture
Unassuming home of amazing orchestra music One of the oldest best hotels in the city, and now has reopened!
Free knowledge for all, with a library card Plaza of the Americas, a tribute to this hemisphere Sold gum, bought the Cubs, built this amazing building
The old water tower, survivor of the great fire The Rookery building, all the details were created while it was being built using specially shaped bricks Inside of the Rookery where I almost ventured a walk down to look but the security desk was right behind me and they were already a bit annoyed by my antics
Many of the buildings still have astounding 1800s details intact inside of them The classic venue, still going
Chicago Tribune building, before they moved to cheaper pastures.  Gothic as heck
A true gem of a 1909 hotel, currently down for the pandemic, but having stayed here, it is magnificent Another library, for the people of Chicago. Those gargoyles!! Old London Trust insurance company
Well, if you are lost, this building shows you were you are So much more city than most areas of NYC.  Actually the downtown is nothing but skyscrapers and rivals or beats New York The Bank of America building.  Very 1920s in style
The Chicago Board of Trade.  The world's prices on many commodities are set here The JW Marriott in an old Bank Building.  This place is a swank hotel

A River City

While the lakefront truly dominates the eastern shore, Chicago is a river city with 20 bridges downtown, providing amazing views of the buildings along it.

Still used for commerce and leisure, it is a very active river with many water-level businesses.
Built to last

Parks

Chicago has amazing parks, so large and fairly numerous around the city. These are the center of the world when weekends allow everyone to enjoy them without the burden of the office. Melting pot of all cultures combine and experience them together.
For the people and the people use it!
Buckingham Fountain.  Largest in the world.  Down for winter
Gentlemen's pastime, sailing out on Lake Michigan The large entertainment complex, Navy Pier
Love Crown Fountain, the faces actually appear to be interacting with each other
Marsh converted to large park in the idea of Central Park Here since 1893, has a lot of activities
Back of the Museum of Science and Industry

Shopping

Chicago is also a shopping mecca. Michigan Avenue north of the river is called the Magnificent Mile due to all the high-end shopping that completely inundate the street fronts.
Up and down Michigan on both sides, these beautiful and sometimes whimsical displays border the boulevard
Love this store, the restaurant is good too
But some old monuments still exist south of the river.
The main event, Marshall Fields.  Luxury goods provider for 130 years.  Now a Macys but still has some of its original character
Original floor movement device
For 100 years, it's been a holiday tradition to eat here.  Try to get a reservation...

Skylines

The city has a very stunning and abrupt skyline due to the hard stops at the lake and Grant Park edges. This makes for amazing pictures.
From way south, what a great city
But you can still take some good ones inside the city too.
42 floors up provides a decent view of north river
Colorful evenings The Loop, State Street, I hear it's a great street, that they do things there they would never on old Broadway
The border against Grant Park, quite stunning wall of buildings

Great Food

I don't care what anyone says, Chicago is the king of the hotdog, and the home of deep dish pizza pies. But its cosmopolitan mix has such great food almost at every turn. You will fail on your diet visiting here.
Calories?  Who cares about calories, this is a pound of yum Chicago life happens at street level, even in the winter
Hey, if the neon sign is a guy falling down drunk, it basically orders you to go see for yourself A true institution, and authentic intense German food The city is peppered with little establishments like this one, and if you pass them by you're missing something.  They are able to stay in business in this very expensive area for a reason, and that reason is they have amazing food

Winter Time

So, one of the trips was right before Christmas, and Chicago is really a city that pulls out the stops for it. Even in the pandemic, it was a good time. The world almost felt right.
Ongoing for 25 years, a very quintessential holiday experience, at Daly Plaza (That's where they got that Picasso?  Yep) This was just such an experience and so needed after 2 long years
Gluhwein!  Not as strong as Munich, but pretty good The ultimate large city winter experience, the ice skating rink

Museums

Ever since I was a little kid (yes, back in the ice ages) Chicago has been the city where I went for museums. They have such amazing museums and it's worth a trip to just see those.
The Art Institute of Chicago.  So amazing, I think the largest impressionist collection in the world Full of astounding world-renowned works of art I do not think a more immersive or detailed museum for Science or Industry exists in the world.  If you have children, this is a must see for their developing minds
In my opinion, best natural history museum in the world, and my opinion is usually right Pritzker Military Museum, I was able to find out a lot from the people there about my Grandfather's service.  Very knowledgeable staff History isn't always pretty
A very interesting collection of militaria primarily around documents and books

The 'L'

The elevated train system culminates in the Loop, where every line meets and crosses. It's an ever-present feature throughout downtown, and being from the 1890s, has some interesting architecture of its own.
Complex interchanges Beautiful Victorian station

Summary

Chicago, the friendliest big city in the world. Culture, education, entertainment, dining, partying - this city has it all, and in a much more manageable size than NYC. I was a kid living near the city and always will have fond memories of it. I build more every time I visit.

Easily accessible from anywhere, by car, train, or plane. It's a world city that feels like your hometown.
The starting point of the great national highway to California


Comments

Omar - 2021-01-21
Might be one of my favorite blogs from you. I wanna go now??




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