When you think of Chicago, what’s the first thing that comes to your mind? Windy City? The Loop? Smog? Crime and Al Capone and Bugsy Moran? Enrico Fermi and the Manhattan Project that led to the atomic bomb? The Great Migration of blacks from the South? Traffic congestion? The Cubbies? The Bulls? The Bears? Would it surprise you to know that Chicago is a linguistic and cultural hub? Some even say its culture is second to none. Without a doubt. Chicago has an eclectic, if not fascinating night life. It’s a town you could get lost in, literally and figuratively. Situated at the southern tip of Lake Michigan, Chicago has a beautiful waterfront with plenty of room to roam and wander. Great for a lover’s walk at night is this site of the great 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, considered the most significant world’s fair in history.
Wining and Dining
Many places in “Chi-town” beckon to the traveler. First, there are wine bars which let you sample their offerings. Chicago prides itself on its variations of cocktails, limited only by the mixologists’ imagination. The Aviary boasts 23 flavors of ice to complement your drink. Additionally you are urged to take advantage of what is referred to as “Kitchen Table Experience,” which features ten “courses” of alcohol, with small plates in between. The best of both worlds.
Throw in Some Adventure!
Have you ever had one of those flying dreams when you are soaring like a bird, then wake up and realize with some regret that it was just a dream? Well, you can literally fly now! You can take flight at iFly, which is an indoor skydiving adventure, except you do not exactly plummet from anything. You suit up, take a mini-safety briefing and walk into a room that has a giant fan beneath a perforated disc in which high pressure air blows. Then you jump on this invisible “force-field.” And, voila! you are three to four feet off the ground. It is the authentic feeling that a skydiver experiences as he freefalls towards the earth—and, best of all, without the risk.
At the lake front’s Navy Pier Park you can ride the 150-foot ferris wheel and get a bird’s-eye view of Chicago and Lake Michigan. There are other rides too and dinner cruises and remote control boats. Of course, food is always available from various vendors on the scene. At night, you can sit back and enjoy the world class fireworks display.
Music and Art
It would be unfair not to mention the art in Chicago, with its Art Institute, a world-class art museum, and the Lyric Opera, one of the leading houses in the world. If you are an artistic soul, you will definitely admire the public art at Millennium Park which features the ultra impressive piece named the Cloud Gate, with several aliases like the “bean.” It is a creation from the mind of artist Anish Kappos from Britain, his first public debut. This piece challenges description, but it can best be described as a giant mirror shaped somewhat like a bean. If you look at it from a short distance, because of its convex shape, it reflects the city’s skyline.
A mention of music offered in Chicago is certainly in order too or, more specifically, a place for music at Millennial Park. The unusual Jay Pritzker Pavillion, a creation of Frank Ghery, styled in what is called Deconstructivism. stands 120 feet tall, with what is described as “a flowing crown of stainless steel ribbons.” It offers 4000 fixed seats and room on the lawn for another 7000 people. It has a state-of-the-art sound system that reputedly mimics the sound one would get at an indoor theater.
During its great 19th century industrial expansion, Chicago attracted emigrants by the thousands from all over the world. According to the Chicago translation service of 24 Hour Translation, large ethnic groups before the 20th century include Irish, Germans, Poles, Italians, Bosnians, Czechs and Jews. In the 20th century, blacks from the American South, Hispanic and Latino peoples, Assyrians, Sub-Saharan Africans, Russians, Swedes, French, Arabs, Greeks, Dutch, Norwegians, West Indians, Lithuanians, Ukrainians, Hungarians, and many others flocked to Chicago for work. Today Asians also comprise a significant segment of the population. Most of these groups have their own neighborhoods where tourists can experience their culture, their hospitality and their food. According to census data, the most spoken languages in Chicago include, Spanish, Chinese, Polish, Russian, Arabic, French and Portuguese.
It’s All Here!
From Water Tower Place, Navy Pier, the Magnificent Mile and State Street; to the Merchandise Mart; to the Art Institute, the Shed Aquarium, and the Museum of Science and Industry; to Buckingham Fountain and Soldier Field; to the Lincoln Park Zoo; to Chinatown and Humbolt Park—and that’s just a short list—you’ll find it all in Chicago. Gangsters, industrialists, merchants, artists, philanthropists, immigrants, government officials—all have made Chicago what it is today, an exciting, non-stop city of amazing people, public art and architecture, skyscrapers and lovely tree-lined boulevards. For the full effect, enjoy a Chicago-style hot dog, a kielbasa, or a chicken Vesuvio while you’re here. Don’t miss a thing!