Jack Chaps visits most of the following Chicago sites in his book. A few of the sites listed below don’t appear in the book, but Jack Chaps nonetheless thinks they merit mention. He is, after all, a dog about town.
Stop at the following destinations:
The heart of downtown shopping, Michigan Avenue has everything – shopping, people, and history!
The Drake Hotel ( 140 East Walton Place, at the start of the Magnificent Mile / 312-787-2200 / www.thedrakehotel.com ):
Famous celebrities like the Princess of Wales, Princess Diana, Hillary Clinton, Queen Elizabeth, and the Empress of Japan all have taken their tea at the Drake’s Palm Court. You can join them, too! Enjoy not only tea and crumpets, but also the live harp music. It may cost a pretty penny, but what a memory!
The John Hancock ( 875 North Michigan Avenue / 1-888-875-VIEW / www.hancock-observatory.com/en/ ):
The John Hancock is a 100-story building located in downtown Chicago. Designed by architects Bruce Graham and Fazlur Khan of the famous firm, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, the building is known for its distinctive X-shaped cross-bracing. The stacked X-shapes help the building stand tall against the wind and also provide more space. Completed in 1970, the John Hancock enjoys a distinguished spot in the city skyline. The building is named after the famous American revolutionary, John Hancock (1737-1793), a founding father of our country who fought for liberty and justice. (If you recall, a “John Hancock” is synonymous with “signature” because John Hancock signed the Declaration of Independence of 1776 in a big bold script). Want to know some fun facts about the John Hancock? The Hancock frame has enough steel to make 33,000 cars. And, there is enough aluminum in the building to cover 12 football fields! While at the Hancock, be sure to see sweeping city views and feel the wind of the Windy City from the Hancock Observatory on the 94th floor. In order to get there, rocket up in one of the fastest elevators in North America. It only takes 39 seconds!
Old Water Tower District ( Michigan and Chicago Avenues ):
These are the oldest structures along the Magnificent Mile. Built in 1869, the old Chicago Water Tower and Pumping Station were the only public buildings that survived the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. With their castle-like style (Gothic Revival) and history, they are quite a sight to see. They represent Chicago’s endurance as a Second City.
Trolley Ride / Carriage Ride ( Michigan Avenue, by the John Hancock & Water Tower District ):
Catch one of the many trolley rides or horse-drawn carriage rides and oohh and aahh at all the city sights!
American Girl Place ( 835 North Michigan Avenue / 1-877-247-5223 / www.americangirl.com ):
Have brunch, lunch or dinner with your favorite American Girl Doll at the American Girl Café. There will be pink sparkles and a doll to match any mood and moment! Again, it may cost a pretty penny, but what a memory!
Disney Store ( 717 North Michigan Avenue / 312-654-9208 ):
From Mickey and Minnie Mouse to Sleeping Beauty to Buzz Lightyear of Toy Story, the Disney Store carries some of your favorite characters. Stop and shop, or just to take a look.
Tribune Tower ( 435 North Michigan Avenue ):
This Gothic-style building houses the Chicago Tribune, one of two major daily newspapers in Chicago. The building is the result of a design contest held in 1922 by Tribune publisher, Colonel Robert R. McCormick, who challenged contestants to design “the most beautiful office building in the world.” Check out the special stones showcased in the building’s lower level. They are from the: Taj Mahal in India, Parthenon in Greece, Hagia Sophia in Turkey, Alamo in Texas, Notre-Dame Cathedral in France, Lincoln’s Tomb in Illinois, Great Wall of China, and Berlin Wall in Germany. And, be sure to check out the rock that was brought back all the way from the moon!
Millennium Park ( Starting at Michigan Avenue and Randolph Street / 312-742-1168 / www.millenniumpark.org ):
This futuristic 24.5-acre park is like nothing else. While there, you’ll enjoy:
Cloud Gate: By British artist Anish Kapoor, this silvery sculpture reflects the magnificent city skyline and the clouds above. Chicagoans dotingly refer to the sculpture as “The Bean,” because of its legume-like shape. Watch a reflection of the city or your own image curve along with the shape of The Bean. Walk underneath, and you enter the “gate,” where you will see the reflection of a mini-you in another world.
Jay Pritzker Pavilion:
An explosive, wowing stainless steel sculpture surrounds the stage where many free summer concerts take place in Chicago. The sculpture and its overhanging stainless steel ribbons were created by noted architect Frank Gehry. Chicagoans and visitors come every summer to enjoy the music on the lawn while wining, dining, & picnicking.
The Crown Fountain:
Designed by Spanish artist Jaume Plensa, these glass block towers feature actual faces of Chicagoans. It is especially fun to watch the mouths of the fountain faces spout water onto the plaza! Kids, throw on your swimsuits and escape the heat by making a splash.
The Lurie Garden:
Take a refreshing walk in the garden. How nice to have nature in the heart of the city!
BP Bridge: Take this winding, futuristic bridge with wonderful skyline views, over to the other side. Cross Lake Shore Drive, and you are there at Lake Michigan’s Monroe Harbor, where you can see all the fancy sailboats!
The Art Institute of Chicago ( 111 South Michigan Avenue / 312-443-3600 / www.artic.edu/aic/ ):
The Art Institute of Chicago was founded in 1879 as both a museum and a school. The present museum was built in 1893 for the World’s Fair right over the rubble left from the Great Chicago Fire. As you go in, admire the stately bronze lion sculptures, also created in 1893. Their sculptor Edward Kemeys named the north-side lion, “on the prowl,” and the south-side lion, “stands in an attitude of defiance.” Enjoy the culture reflected in art that spans 5,000 years! Go see A Sunday on La Grande Jatte, by French Impressionist Georges Seurat; The Old Guitarist, by Pablo Picasso; and Water Lilies, by Claude Monet. At a time when there are gadgets galore, the museum reminds us that one of the most simple and profound pleasures in life is appreciating what we see right before us.
The Picasso ( Daley Plaza / Washington and Dearborn Streets ):
This 50-foot black steel sculpture graces Chicago’s Daley Plaza and garners many a curious glance from passersby. The sculpture is simply known as “The Picasso,” after its sculptor Pablo Picasso, although its official name is “Untitled.” As to what it depicts, no one knows! Some believe it’s a dog, others, a horse, and, yet, others, a Viking ship! Take a break from State Street shopping and walk a few blocks to marvel this mystery sculpture. Kids, climb up, then slide down the base of it, what fun!
Pizano’s ( 61 East Madison Street / 312-236-1777 / www.pizanoschicago.com/ ):
This local pizzaria is owned by Rudy Malnati Jr. – son of the Rudy Malnati Sr., who opened Chicago’s famous Pizzaria Uno and charted the way for deep-dish pizza. Fewer tourists visit Pizano’s, but it’s a favorite among locals. Using the famous family deep-dish recipe, the pizza is absolutely delectable. The pizzaria also carries other Italian fare, including ravioli, tortellini, fettuccini, and gnocchi.
The Field Museum ( 1400 South Lake Shore Drive / 312-922-9410 / www.fieldmuseum.org ):
Take a nature walk and see up close how gorillas, zebras, and lions live. Or, look at the ancient Egyptian mummies and their tombs! And, by all means, go see Sue – actually, it would be hard to miss her! Standing at 13 feet high and 42 feet long, from head to tail, Sue is the largest, most complete, and best-preserved Tyrannosaurus rex fossil ever discovered. Look at her bird-like feet, her little arms, as well as her large, razor-sharp teeth and powerful jaws! Her skull alone weighs 600 pounds. When alive, she weighed an estimated 7 tons. Sue is 67 million years old. The skeleton on display is the real-deal dinosaur, not a model (although Sue’s skull is a cast model; the real head is displayed on the second-floor balcony). She was discovered in South Dakota by Sue Hendrickson, a fossil hunter. The Field Museum has unbeatable art, archeology, anthropology, and science displays.
Navy Pier ( 600 East Grand Avenue / 1-800-595-PIER / www.navypier.com ):
Catch a movie at the IMAX Theater, visit the Chicago Children’s Museum, take a ride on the gigantic Ferris wheel, look at your silly reflection in the wacky wavy mirrors, or, sail the sparkling Lake Michigan with real-deal pirates and sailors in the majestic harbor ships. Known as Chicago’s lakefront playground, Navy Pier offers a bonanza of fun for kids!
Wrigley Field ( West Addison and North Clark Streets / www.cubs.com ):
Chicago is home to two rival major league baseball teams, the Cubs (typically favored by northsiders) and the White Sox (typically favored by southsiders). Although not in the same league, the two teams occasionally play one another and garner many a loyal fan. Built in 1914, Wrigley Field, home of the Cubs, is the second oldest baseball field. The Cubs are known for their inability to shake the famous “Billy Goat Curse,” placed on the team in 1945 after Billy Goat Tavern owner Billy Sianis was kicked out of the game due to the malodor of his pet goat that was bothering fans. He reportedly stated: “Them Cubs aren’t gonna win no more.” This has evolved to mean the Cubs will never again win the World Series at Wrigley. So far that has held true for the Cubs, but not their rival White Sox. The Sox won the World Series in 2005.
North Avenue Beach and Oak Street Beach:
Sunbathe by the beach! Or, ride your bike along the Lake Michigan pathway. Enjoy the sparkling lake & summer sun with a magnificent view of the city skyline.
Devon Avenue in Rogers Park:
Hop on the El, Chicago’s elevated train and bop up to Rogers Park, one of the most diverse neighborhoods in the city and even in the country. A robust ethnic melting pot, there are over 80 languages spoken in the neighborhood. Devon Avenue was originally named by English immigrants in the 1850s after Devonshire, in England. Since then, it has been settled by other multi-ethnic immigrants. Start at Bell and Devon, and you will see the heavy Indian and Pakistani influence along the street. Saris and bright jewelry are showcased in the display windows, and there are spices galore in the grocery stores.
Thank you for taking the Jack Chaps tour of Chicago. Have fun, and enjoy!