"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
Take a YouTube Tour of Chicago
Ask a Chicagoan, and they'll be happy to tell you that their hometown is one of the world's great cities. But don't take our word for it; take a look at some YouTube videos extolling the virtues of this fascinating metropolis.
The Windy City, the City of Big Shoulders, the Second City:
"The city is so unbelievably beautiful. It's one of the greatest cities on the planet. My heart beats differently when I'm in Chicago. It slows down and I feel more at ease." - Jeremy Piven
It would be very hard to provide a true picture of all that the city of Chicago has to offer in one page. Chicago is a world-class city known for its jazz and blues, sophisticated yet affordable restaurants, fantastic shopping, theater and improvisational comedy, professional sports, modern architecture, waterfront diversions, and, of course, Oprah. Venues such as Navy Pier, Millennium Park, the Chicago Loop, the Magnificent Mile, the Field Museum, and the major observation decks make Chicago a mecca for tourists; but locals know that the city is full of delights a tourist would barely have time even to read about. Publications around the world love to tell the story of Chicago: British literary mag Granta devoted an entire issue to Chicago stories (the only other city it has done that for is London), and Fast Company magazine named Chicago its 2008 U.S. City of the Year, labeling us "magnetic, dynamic and smart."
Parks and "Green Chicago":
"I’d rather be a lamppost in Chicago than a millionaire in any other city." - William A. Hulbert
When Chicago was incorporated in 1837, it adopted the motto "Urbs in Horto ("The City in the Garden") and lives up to that motto today in many ways. Few cities take more pride in their public spaces than Chicago. The Chicago Park District boasts 7400 acres of green space, 26 miles of shoreline, 520 parks, 75 acres of gardens, 800 ball fields, 250 field houses, 90 swimming pools, 10 Olympic-size skating rinks, 8 golf/mini-golf courses, a dozen major museums, a free public zoo, and much more. The entire Chicago lakefront is owned by the city, which means that you can go to beaches, theater performances, and festivals right on the waterfront and run, walk, bike, blade, and even rock climb along the shoreline. Among the events the Park District hosts are the Chicago Air and Water Show, the Grant Park Music Festival, Theater on the Lake, and the annual food festival, Taste of Chicago. In addition, 2004 saw the opening of Millennium Park, a downtown multimedia park that has a Frank Gehry designed bandshell, a skating rink that doubles as a sports bar in the summer, and the 160-ton "bean," a stainless steel, mirrored sculpture that is quickly becoming a Chicago landmark. (Download the Millennium Park audio tour here.) In concert with the beauty and usefulness of our park system, former Mayor Daley started--and Mayor Emmanuel is continuing--a campaign to make Chicago America's Greenest City - the country's first municipal building with a rooftop garden was Chicago's City Hall and Chicago has one of the only five LEED Platinum Certified Buildings in the country. Other projects include rehabilitating wetlands areas inside the Chicago city limits, testing for rain-permeable alleys, and green fueling stations.
"Every player should be accorded the privilege of at least one season with the Chicago Cubs. That's baseball as it should be played - in God's own sunshine. And that's really living." - Alvin Dark
In the minds of many, Chicago is first and foremost a sports town. Chicago loves its teams, and with good reason. Newly renovated Soldier Field, right on the lakefront, is home to the Bears. Chicago's United Center hosts the Blackhawks and the six-time NBA champion Bulls. For baseball, Chicago is unparalleled, hosting the White Sox at south side U.S Cellular Field (a short trip from the Law School) and the Chicago Cubs at beautiful Wrigley Field, right in the middle of the Northside's Lakeview neighborhood. Chicago's own Major League Soccer team, the Chicago Fire, play in nearby Bridgeview.
"Eventually, I think Chicago will be the most beautiful great city left in the world." - Frank Lloyd Wright
If art or architecture is your passion, you will be very happy in Chicago. Largely because the downtown area had to be entirely rebuilt after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, Chicago is often called the birthplace of modern architecture. Buildings by legends of modern architecture Louis Sullivan, Frank Lloyd Wright, Frank Gehry, and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe abound. Chicago is the home of the first skyscrapers and boasts the tallest building in the country, the Willis Tower. Hyde Park has stunning mansions on its north side including the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Robie House and, of course, the Gothic gargoyles of the University itself. The Art Institute of Chicago houses masterpieces of painting and sculpture, including a superb collection of French Impressionists and major works of 20th century art. The Museum of Contemporary Art and the Spertus Museum are smaller, more focused collections, perfect for an afternoon's viewing. The University of Chicago's own Smart Museum spans Rodin to Rothko.
"Chicago, Chicago, that toddlin' town." - Fred Fisher
Chicago is legendary for its music, particularly jazz and blues, with dozens of small clubs that host internationally renowned musicians every night. Blues and jazz clubs dot the city, including such famous and popular spots as the Checkerboard Lounge, Buddy Guy's Legends, Kingston Mines, the Green Mill, Rosa's, and the Backroom. There's even a free Chicago Blues Audio Tour you can download! You'll also find fabulous venues for folk, country, rap, even Irish music. The Chicago Symphony Orchestra, long acclaimed as one of America's Big Five orchestras, often premieres works by University of Chicago composers. Every year, the Chicago Lyric Opera fills the sumptuous Art Deco opera house to 103% capacity. And, of course, all the national music tours stop in Chicago, playing traditional venues such as the United Center, House of Blues, and Allstate Arena, and somewhat more unsual ones like Wrigley Field and Soldier Field.
"I'm impressed with the people from Chicago. Hollywood is hype, New York is talk, Chicago is work." - Michael Douglas
Theater is also plentiful in Chicago. The city boasts nearly three hundred troupes and also is home to world-class improvisational comedy, including Second City, which got its start forty years ago right here at the University. Chicago is home to the Steppenwolf and Goodman Theaters, and to the Elizabethan-style Shakespeare Theater at Navy Pier. Big musicals play at large auditorium theaters downtown and intimate, often locally written plays are performed in spaces all over town.