Essential Places To Visit In Chicago, Illinois
Here are the essential places to visit in Chicago, Illinois. The selection is made using the FavRiver scoring system which takes into account the most relevant metrics and expert reviews.
Last update : Jun 12, 2019
1Willis Tower
The Willis Tower, built as and still commonly referred to as the Sears Tower, is a 110-story, 1,450-foot (442.1 m) skyscraper in Chicago, Illinois. At completion in 1973, it surpassed the World Trade Center in New York to become the tallest building in the world, a title it held for nearly 25 years; it remained the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere until the completion of a new building at the rebuilt World Trade Center site in 2014. Willis Tower is considered a seminal achievement for architect Fazlur Rahman Khan. It is currently the second-tallest building in the United States and the Western hemisphere – and the 16th-tallest in the world. More than one million people visit its observation deck each year, making it one of Chicago's most popular tourist destinations. The structure was renamed in 2009 by the Willis Group as a term of its lease.
As of April 2018, the building's largest tenant is United Airlines, which moved its corporate headquarters from the United Building at 77 West Wacker Drive in 2012, occupying around 20 floors. Other major tenants include the building's namesake Willis Group and law firms Schiff Hardin and Seyfarth Shaw. Morgan Stanley plans to move to the building in 2019 and become its fourth-largest tenant by 2020.
Willis Tower
2Cloud Gate
Cloud Gate is a public sculpture by Indian-born British artist Sir Anish Kapoor, that is the centerpiece of AT&T Plaza at Millennium Park in the Loop community area of Chicago, Illinois. The sculpture and AT&T Plaza are located on top of Park Grill, between the Chase Promenade and McCormick Tribune Plaza & Ice Rink. Constructed between 2004 and 2006, the sculpture is nicknamed The Bean because of its shape. Made up of 168 stainless steel plates welded together, its highly polished exterior has no visible seams. It measures 33 by 66 by 42 feet (10 by 20 by 13 m), and weighs 110 short tons (100 t; 98 long tons).
Kapoor's design was inspired by liquid mercury and the sculpture's surface reflects and distorts the city's skyline. Visitors are able to walk around and under Cloud Gate's 12-foot (3.7 m) high arch. On the underside is the "omphalos" (Greek for "navel"), a concave chamber that warps and multiplies reflections. The sculpture builds upon many of Kapoor's artistic themes, and it is popular with tourists as a photo-taking opportunity for its unique reflective properties.
The sculpture was the result of a design competition. After Kapoor's design was chosen, numerous technological concerns regarding the design's construction and assembly arose, in addition to concerns regarding the sculpture's upkeep and maintenance. Various experts were consulted, some of whom believed the design could not be implemented. Eventually, a feasible method was found, but the sculpture's construction fell behind schedule. It was unveiled in an incomplete form during the Millennium Park grand opening celebration in 2004, before being concealed again while it was completed. Cloud Gate was formally dedicated on May 15, 2006, and has since gained considerable popularity, both domestically and internationally. On July 2, 2019, Cloud Gate was vandalized.
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Cloud Gate
3Wrigley Field
Wrigley Field is a baseball park located on the North Side of Chicago, Illinois. It is the home of the Chicago Cubs, one of the city's two Major League Baseball (MLB) franchises. It first opened in 1914 as Weeghman Park for Charles Weeghman's Chicago Whales of the Federal League, which folded after the 1915 baseball season. The Cubs played their first home game at the park on April 20, 1916, defeating the Cincinnati Reds with a score of 7–6 in 11 innings. Chewing gum magnate William Wrigley Jr. of the Wrigley Company acquired complete control of the Cubs in 1921. It was named Cubs Park from 1920 to 1926, before being renamed Wrigley Field in 1927.
In the North Side community area of Lakeview in the Wrigleyville neighborhood, Wrigley Field is on an irregular block bounded by Clark (west) and Addison (south) streets and Waveland (north) and Sheffield (east) avenues. Wrigley Field is nicknamed "The Friendly Confines", a phrase popularized by "Mr. Cub", Hall of Fame shortstop and first baseman Ernie Banks. The oldest park in the National League, the current seating capacity is 42,495; it is the second-oldest in the majors after Fenway Park (1912), and the only remaining Federal League park.
Wrigley Field is known for its ivy-covered brick outfield wall, the unusual wind patterns off Lake Michigan, the iconic red marquee over the main entrance, the hand-turned scoreboard, its location in a primarily residential neighborhood with no parking lots and views from the rooftops behind the outfield, and for being the last Major League park to have lights installed for play after dark, in 1988. Between 1921 and 1970, it was the home of the Chicago Bears of the National Football League, and was also the home of the Chicago Cardinals (now Arizona Cardinals) of the National Football League between 1931-1938. The elevation of its playing field is 600 feet (180 m) above sea level.
Wrigley Field
4The Second City
The Second City is an improvisational comedy enterprise, best known as the historically first on-going improvisational theater troupe, continually based in Chicago. It also has training programs and live theatres in Toronto and Los Angeles. The Second City Theatre opened on December 16, 1959, and has since become one of the most influential and prolific comedy theatres in the world.
The Second City has produced television programs in both Canada and the United States, including SCTV, (SNL), Second City Presents, and Next Comedy Legend. Since its debut, The Second City has consistently been a notable starting point for comedians, award-winning actors, directors, and others in show business, including Bill Murray, Gilda Radner, John Candy, Dan Aykroyd, Del Close, Eugene Levy, Catherine O'Hara, Nia Vardalos, Ryan Stiles, Mike Myers, Steve Carell, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Stephen Colbert, and many others.
The Second City
5Chicago River
The Chicago River is a system of rivers and canals with a combined length of 156 miles (251 km) that runs through the city of Chicago, including its center (the Chicago Loop). Though not especially long, the river is notable because it is one of the reasons for Chicago's geographic importance: the related Chicago Portage is a link between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River Basin, and ultimately the Gulf of Mexico.
The River is also noteworthy for its natural and human-engineered history. In 1887, the Illinois General Assembly decided to reverse the flow of the Chicago River through civil engineering by taking water from Lake Michigan and discharging it into the Mississippi River watershed, partly in response to concerns created by an extreme weather event in 1885 that threatened the city's water supply. In 1889, the Illinois General Assembly created the Chicago Sanitary District (now The Metropolitan Water Reclamation District) to replace the Illinois and Michigan Canal with the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, a much larger waterway, because the former had become inadequate to serve the city's increasing sewage and commercial navigation needs. Completed by 1900, the project reversed the flow of the Main Stem and South Branch of the Chicago River by using a series of canal locks and increasing the flow from Lake Michigan into the river, causing the river to empty into the new Canal instead. In 1999, the system was named a 'Civil Engineering Monument of the Millennium' by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE).
The river is represented on the Municipal Flag of Chicago by two horizontal blue stripes. Its three branches serve as the inspiration for the Municipal Device, a three-branched, Y-shaped symbol that is found on many buildings and other structures throughout Chicago.
Chicago River
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