Chicago has much more than a 1930’s gangster reputation. Nestled on the shores of Lake Michigan it is full of architectural wonders, its three million inhabitants are mad about sport and it is home to the deep pan pizza.
The nickname ‘windy city’ doesn’t apply to the weather as we all assume but actually refers to the politicians and city boosters of the time who were full of hot air! My visit was in early December and Chicago turned it on with mild sunny days and pleasant, fresh evenings, ideal for sightseeing.
The Gangster tour is a must and a fascinating introduction to the history of the city during the prohibition era when Al Capone and his cohorts controlled the crime scene. Following the tour it was hot dogs at Portillo’s, established in 1963 and a Chicago icon.
The cocktail bar on 96th floor of the Hancock building has spectacular views of Lake Michigan and the city. Millennium Park is a wonderful green space in the middle of the city and very popular with locals and visitors. The expansive park is constructed on top of a railroad yard and car park making it one of the largest green roofs in the world. It is home to the famous sculpture ‘The Bean’ which I thought was amazing, along with the digital faces at Crown Fountain, an ice-skating rink and Lincoln Zoo.
You can take a river cruise for another perspective of this fascinating city. The cruise explores Chicago’s architectural wonders on the only river in the world to flow backwards! The huge Ferris wheel at Navy Pier is another favourite.
There is a vibrant theatre scene, fabulous music productions as well as incredible museums and galleries. Not to be missed is the world’s largest Tiffany Glass dome in the Chicago Cultural Centre comprising of 30,000 pieces of stained glass. The architecture spans art deco to super modern skyscrapers all intermingled to add to the beauty and character of the cityscape.
Chicago is well worth a few days stopover on any USA itinerary.