Top Things You Should Know About Chicago

Chicago is one of the great cities in the United States, rich with history, arts, music, and architecture. This article is to give you an introduction to this magnificent city. It is a good guide for people who want to visit Chicago for the first time.


Why Do they Call it The Windy City?

Chicago is currently known as the Windy City. Many believe this nickname comes from the winds that come from Lake Michigan.  The true origin is not really known but it is believed it actually comes from politicians changing their mind often.

Where is Chicago Located?

Chicago is located on the southwest corner of Lake Michigan, in the state of Illinois. It is the third largest city in the United States. chicago is well known for being one of the big cities in the United States, unique with its architecture and home to the world's first skyscraper. In this article I would like to introduce you to the top things you should know about Chicago. If you have never traveled to Chicago before, this will give you an introduction to the United States third most populated city.

A bit of Chicago History To Know

The Great Chicago Fire

The great Chicago Fire

An incredible fire that destroyed four miles, destroyed 17,500 buildings and $222 million in property. Although there were only 125 casualties, almost a third of the city's total valuation was destroyed. The scene took place from October 8, 1871 and lasted until October 10, 1871. On this day, the season had been unusually dry and there were many fires that preceded this famous fire. The cause of this fire is uncertain, but it is thought to have been a cow kicking a lantern in a barn. When the fire was reported, the dispatcher thought the smoke was due to a previous fire that was under control. When he realized it was a new fire, the fire was already increasing in area driven by strong winds out the southwest.  To compound the mistake, the dispatcher sent fire engines in the wrong direction.  

Chicago had a lot of establishments made from wood, making the fire that much stronger.  Sometimes Chicago is referred as the Second City in reference to its rebuilding after the fire.   When the fire was over, the only places that survived the smoldering blaze were the Chicago Water tower and St. Michael's Church. The only positive benefit from this fire was the rebuilding process. Chicago was given a facelift with famous architects putting their mark on the city. Today Chicago is known for its renowned architecture. It was among the first to establish skyscrapers to address the need of office space. Among the famous skyscrapers, the Sears Tower.

Columbian Exposition

The Columbian Exposition

 The Columbian Exposition was a world fair held in Chicago in 1893 to commemorate Columbus' arrival to the New World. There were initally three choices for the fair: New York City, St.Louis or Chicago. Chicago won and the fair helped to enhance its development into the architecture and the arts, which were vastly redone after the Great Chicago Fire. The fair was opened from May 1 until October 30 and the exposition brought in 26 million visitors. It was  truly a symbol of Chicago coming out of the ashes of the Great Chicago Fire.  The site had many firsts: the first Ferris Wheel, elongated coins, cracker jack, juicy fruit, quaker oats, and it was also the site where one of the most popular foods was popularized: the hamburger.

Chicago Must Visit Places

The Loop  - Downtown Chicago

The Loop is often referred to as "the Loop". This term came into being due to elevated train tracks that surround an area of Chicago. Although the  "L" now refers to all of Chicago's transit system, it was initially the name given to the area that was elevated above street level. This L was elevated because in 1892 streets were filled with horse drawn streetcars, carts, and wagons. In order to avoid this mess, the transit railroad company decided to elevate it.

The Lakefront

If you ever wonder where the natives of Chicago go out to relax from the stresses of work, they will all tell you one thing: the Lakefront. In 1836, the legislature of Chicago decided to make the lakefront east of Michigan avenue, a place where no building would be built.  As such, they developed a place where the people of Chicago can relax. In the Lakefront, you will experience 29 miles of biking, rollerblading or just enjoying the beach. You can also rent a powerboat or go sailing in Lake Michigan. 


Sears Tower

 The Sears Tower is a 110 story, 1450 foot building, that once was the tallest building in the world. It was built in 1973.  Some 1.5 million visitors still come here each year, making it one of the must see attractions when you visit Chicago. If the Sears Tower were spread across one level, it would cover 105 acres. The buidinc cost more than $175 million to build. Allow 1 to 3 hours to the top of the skydeck on the 103rd floor.

Wrigley Field

 The stadium where the Chicago Cubs play is one of the most popular sports venues for Chicagoans. IT is the second oldest ballpark built in 1914 second only to Boston's Fenway Park which was built in 1912.

Wrigley Field has so much history behind it. It was the location where Babe Ruth pointed to a bleacher location in the 1932 world Series and proeceeded to hit a home run. It was also the site where Sammy Sosa hit 60+ home runs during 1998, 1999, and 2001.  Ernie Banks 500th home run was hit here on May 12, 1970.

Wrigley Field is also unique with its ivy covered outfield walls and its scoreboard that even to this date is changed manually. There area also unique wind patterns that can either make the pitcher harder to hit or make the batter easy to hit a home run. Its uniqueness as a stadium filled with history leads to almost sold out tickets for every game.

 There are apartment buildings on top of Waveland and Sheffield streets that were built before the stadium. These fans would even have cookouts while watching the game.  Some apartment owners would even make bleachers and charge some fans to get in.  This angered the baseball owners until finally it was decided that apartment owners would share some of the revenue back with the team.

Art Institute of Chicago

The Art Museum is one of the most popular places to visit in Chicago. It is hard not to be utterly impressed with its exhaustive collection of arts, media, sculptures and more on display here. The museum has more than 300000 works on display. Anything from  Toulouse-Lautrec, Frank Lloyd, Grand Wood's American Gothic and Edward Hopper's Nighthawaks are among some popular arts on display.  There is also a vast collection of impressionist paintings (Monet), and glass paperweights in the Arthur Rubloff collection. Many consider it one of the best museums in the United States.

Planning your online trip to Chicago

Most airline tickets are sold by Orbitz, Travelocity, Expedia, Hotwire and Cheaptickets.  You can visit each of these sites to see which will give you the best deals. It helps if there are coupon codes available.  An discount expedia coupon code may save you even more than their already discounted rate. Travelocity offers promo codes as well, visit with a travelocity promo code get discounted rates.  If you are able to sacrifice schedule times for the best rate, you may try as well.   Whatever travel agency you use, remember that it will save you more on the long run if you can book a hotel and flight combination together.



Chicago Famous People To Know

Michael Jordan

Michael Jordan

Michael Jordan

When you think about Chicago, you can't help to think about it being the home team to the greatest basketball player that ever lived to play the game, Michael Jordan.  Michael "Air" Jordan played for the Chicago Bulls from 1984-1993 and then again from 1995-1998. His achievements in the world of basketball are simply astounding, earning almost every NBA award conceivable. Here are some notable awards:
NBA leading scorer 1986/87, 1987/88, 1988/89, 1989/90, 1990/91, 1991/92, 1992/93, 1995/96, 1996/97, 1997/98
NBA Finals MVP: 1990/91, 1991/92, 1992/93, 1995/96, 1996/97, 1997/98
NBA Champion: 1991, 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, 1998
NBA Rookie of the Year
NBA Defensive Player of the Year: 1987/88

ESPN ranked him the top athlete of the 20th century.

Barack Obama

Barack Obama


The 44th and current president of the United States.  In chicago he was first a community organizer from June 1985 to May 1988. He then became an Illinois senator from 2005–2008. Obama is a graduate of Columbia University and Harvard Law School, having graduated from the latter with a Magna Cum Laude. From 1992- 2004, he also lectured as a professor at the University of Chicago Law School.



Oprah Winfrey 

A person with the highest rated talk show television in the history of television. Her net worth in 2008 was 2.7 billion dollars. She is the highest paid entertainer on television today.  She is known for her straighforwardness, charisma and above all empathy. She is a resident to Chicago, Illinois and her studio show is held here.


The Chicago Food

Chicago Hot Dog

Portill's - Chicago Dog by biskuit

Chicago-style Hot dog. Picture by:  biskuit


A hot dog that is always an all beef hot dog, served on a poppy seed bun. Other ingredients are yellow mustard, chopped raw onions, relish, sport peppers, celery salt, sweet relish, tomato wedges and served with akosher dill pickle. Its origins probably came from the World's Columbian Exposition held in Chicago in 1983. This was held to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus's arrival in the new world. One interesing fact about the Chicago hot dog is that it never has any ketchup on it!.


Deep Dish Pizza

Invented in Chicago by Rick Riccardo of  Riccardo’s pizza. Pizzeria Uno, in Chicago was also an originator and it became quite popular.  in 1943   The dough is crust pulled up high on the sides of a deep dish pan. The pan is oiled heavily to  create a fried effect. The dough is then covered with cheese, meats and other toppings. This pizza is often eaten with fork and knife since it's difficult and messy to pick up.



A Festival You should Know

The Taste of Chicago

 - An annual event from the end of June to the beginning of July where there's food food and more food. There are 300 menu items from 300+ restaurants at this food mecca.  Among some items served are the famous Chicago pizza, Chicago hot dogs, Italian Beef and many other famous local foods.  The event takes place in Chicago's Grant Park.  There are also many musical performances on stage during this time. Over 3.5 million people come to this event at this time. There is plenty of entertainment for young and old alike. This event had its inception in the summer of 1980, the idea of mayor Jane Byrne.  


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Last updated by admin on 4/3/2009
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