April 1, 1995

6 Min Read
Wander The Windy City

Susan DeGrane

Carl Sandburg's poem about Chicago conveys the strength of this midwestern metropolis. Inevitably, most visitors sense the indomitable spirit in the massive skyscrapers planted firmly on the rim of the lake that resembles an o-cean. Chicago truly is "the stormy, husky, brawling City of Big Shoul-ders."

Derived from an Indian word, Chi-cago's very name means "great." But whatever Chicago is, it isn't shy - the city's 2.8 million people are proud to brag and show their best.

Not only is Chicago home to the world's tallest building (the Sears' Tower), the world's largest library (Harold Washington Library Center), the world's largest indoor marine mammal pavilion (Oceanarium at the John G. Shedd Aquarium), and the only river in the world that flows backward (the Chicago River) - but it is also home to the second largest landfill on the planet, the CID landfill operated by Waste Management on the city's South Side. (Nearby is a challenging 18-hole golf course which the city recently built on top of a sewage sludge fill.)

While Chicago offers the sophistication of a large urban center, some neighborhoods exhibit the raw culture and mysterious traditions found in third world countries. Michigan Avenue, Chicago's magnificent mile, slices through a canyon of sky-high office buildings representing some of the world's greatest modern architecture.

The city is a thriving business center, and boasts some of the best shopping spots in America. Chicago has 34 museums, 150 theaters, more than 100 art galleries, two zoos and 6,000 restaurants. Outside of downtown are 77 residential neighborhoods inhabited by a variety of ethnic groups including Irish, East-ern European and African Ameri-cans. Whole portions of Chicago resemble foreign countries, with Hispanic, Polish, Chinese or Viet-namese signs on local shops. In fact, Chicago has more Poles than the city of Warsaw, Poland.

Must-See Museums Among Chicago's impressive collection of museums are some must-see attractions.

The Art Institute of Chicago is well-known for its impressionist and post-impressionist paintings by Monet, Renoir, Degas and van Gogh. The Institute's permanent collection includes the works of other famous artists: Nighthawks by Edward Hopper, Monsters by Salvador Dali, and American Gothic by Grant Wood. The Museum of Contemporary Art features audio works, installations and artists' books.

Three museums on Chicago's lakefront are within walking distance of each other. At the Adler Planet-arium, on the shore of the lake, one can view the stars over Chicago on closed circuit television and see a variety of exhibits and films on the field of astronomy.

Shedd Aquarium is home to more than 8,000 aquatic mammals, reptile, amphibians, invertebrates and fishes. The Field Museum of Natural History contains mummies, Egyptian tombs, native American artifacts and 16 million other specimens from the fields of anthropology, botany, geology and zoology.

The Museum of Science and Industry in the Hyde Park neighborhood houses the Henry Crown Space Center, home of the Apollo 8 capsule which was the first space craft to orbit the moon. Other attractions include a World War II German u-505 submarine and a 16-foot pulsating model of a human heart.

The museum's Omnimax Theater, which surrounds the audience with a dome-shaped screen and a special sound system, gives viewers the sensation of actually being a part of the movie.

Also in Hyde Park are the DuSable Museum of African American History and the Oriental Institute Museum, which illustrates the development of civilization in E-gypt, Mesopotamia, Iran and Syria/Palestine.

In close proximity to one another are the Chicago A-cademy of Sciences, the Chicago Historical Society and the Lincoln Park Zoo, which features animals from all o-ver the world, including rhinos, elephants, camels, ga-zelles, giraffes, exotic birds, monkeys, snakes, an endangered big cat collection, a great ape house and a chil- dren's petting zoo. Chicago's other zoo, the Brookfield Zoo, is also impressive, and is located to the west of the city in the suburb of Brookfield.

Where To Eat The town's restaurants best reflect its ethnic diversity. The Official Visitors Guide to Chicago, available at the Chicago Office of Tourism, lists several prominent res-taurants by cuisine: African, American, Cajun, Carib-bean, French, Chinese, German, Irish, Greek, Indian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Mediter-ranean, Mexican, Persian, Polish, Polynesian, Russian, Spanish and Thai, not to mention whole classifications for coffee houses, pizza, ribs, steak and vegetarian foods.

Greek Town, a two-block stretch along the city's Halsted Street, offers a choice of several excellent Greek dining establishments. Chinatown, on Wentworth, offers several blocks of Chinese restaurants, groceries and import shops. The Hispanic community of Pilsen is home to several excellent Mexican restaurants, and fine Italian restaurants are scattered throughout the city. Many ho-tels in the downtown area also offer fine dining.

Enjoy The Lake Lake Michigan exerts a strong in-fluence on the city. Chicagoans have coined the phrase "cooler by the lake," because it is always cooler by the lake, and often very windy. When traveling anywhere in close proximity to Lake Michigan, remember to bundle up. Late April in Chicago by the lake may be as chilly as early March for the rest of the city. After the sun goes down, in any season, Chicago is a very cool place to be.

Like the city, the lake embodies its own set of contrasts. The weather changes constantly and rapidly. One minute it may be warm and balmy, the next stormy and threatening. Watercraft range from windsurfers, sailboats and luxury yachts to sport fishing boats and enormous commercial barges. Urban anglers take advantage of Chicago's 29 miles of shoreline, reeling in prodigious quantities of perch, bluegill, brown trout, steelhead, coho salmon and catfish.

Some fishing hot spots just off of Lake Shore Drive include the backdoor of McCormick Place, Navy Pier, Burnham Harbor and the lake side of the Adler Planetarium, Montrose Harbor. The largest fresh bait shop in Chicago, Henry's Sports & Bait Shop, is located not far from Mc-Cormick at 31st and Canal Street. Serious anglers should call Henri's fishing hot line to see what's biting: (312) 225-FISH.

Several boat services offer fishing and charter cruises: * Charter Boats Inc.: (312) 922-4848;

* Chicago's First Lady: (708) 358-1330;

* Wagner Charter: (708) 653-8690;

* Captain L's Marine Machine (fishing charters): (312) 565-0104.

The best place to find out about where to go in Chicago is the Visitor Information Center in the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington Street. Several free brochures are available at a visitor's booth. Infor-mation counselors offer guidance and directions to Chicago's many attractions, including the Museum of Broadcast Communications which is located in the same building.

For additional information, call the Chicago Office of Tourism: (312) 744-2400.

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