My kind of town – exploring Chicago through the eyes of a tourist

DSC_0056BChances are, you know more history about distant destinations than your own city. Let’s be honest, for those who visit their city center on a regular basis, getting around is based on going from point A to point B in a timely manner, all while zigzagging around  zombies  who walk slowly, stop often, and take photos of absolutely everything, aka the tourists. Rarely do we pay close attention to our surroundings. Sure, you recognize some of the buildings, sculptures, and some of the numerous monuments. But do you know anything about them? My money is on the confused guy who got lost twenty minutes ago and still hasn’t managed to find his hotel. I’m sure he knows more about your city than you do…no offense. 

DSC_0024I have traveled to quite a few places in my life and quite possibly, definitely, I was  the one doing the frequent stopping, slow walking, and picture taking. However, I always wanted to know what it feels like to be a tourist in Chicago, the city I have called home for the past fourteen years. I wanted to clog Michigan Ave. and wait endless hours to stand  on a see-through balcony 1,353 feet up in the air. I desperately wanted to visit the museums I have driven by many times, yet never stepped a foot in. Well folks, I can officially scratch that off my imaginary bucket list.
Accompanied by my friend Pola one day and my sister another, I grabbed my camera,  I underdressed for the cold weather (because that’s what tourists do) and headed for the city. This time, there was no business to take care of, nor would I be visiting any of my hidden favorites. This time, the agenda included the Adler Planetarium, Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium, John Hancock observatory, and the famous, I still call it by its old name, Sears Tower.   The experience was rather interesting. Like always, my camera was with me and below are some of the shots from the excursion. PLEASE SHARE AND COMMENT!

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Looking north from Willis Tower. In view: The John Hancock (4th tallest in Chicago), Trump Tower (2nd tallest in Chicago), and many other architectural wonders. Come and see for yourself.

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Looking south from the Willis Tower. Did you know…With its factories, steel mills and meat-packing plants, the South Side saw a sustained period of immigration which began around the 1840s and continued through World War II. Irish, Italian, Polish and Lithuanian immigrants, in particular, settled in neighborhoods adjacent to industrial zones.

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Looking north-west from Willis Tower. To the right, the north branch of the Chicago river which continues far into the northern suburbs.

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Train tracks just south of Union Station. Union Station is a major railroad station which opened in 1925 in Chicago, when it replaced the station built in 1881. It is now the only intercity rail terminal in Chicago, as well as being the city’s primary terminal for commuter trains. The station stands on the west side of the Chicago River between West Adams Street and West Jackson Boulevard, just outside the Chicago Loop. Including approach and storage tracks, it is about nine and a half city blocks in size. Its facilities are mostly underground, buried almost entirely beneath streets and skyscrapers.

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Looking down at South Wacker Dr. and Van Buren St. For visitors, Wacker Dr. can be a difficult road to understand. With south, north, east, and west addresses, finding your destination can get tricky. Not to mention driving. Its upper and lower level is problematic even for some locals.

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Intersection of Wacker Dr. and Jackson Blvd at the base of the Willis tower.

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Willis Tower (Sears Tower) at 1,451 foot high, it is the tallest building in Chicago. It took 2,000 workers 3 years to build the skyscraper. The average sway of the building is approximately 6 inches (152 millimeters) from true center, but the building is designed to sway up to 3 feet.

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Al Capone shot glasses. America’s best known gangster and the single greatest symbol of the collapse of law and order in the United States during the 1920s Prohibition era. Capone had a leading role in the illegal activities that lent Chicago its reputation as a lawless city.

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One of many amazing books about the history of Chicago — a great visual to how the city has aged.

Taking selfies to a new level. Photo taken in the elevator on the way to the Skydeck.

Taking selfies to a new level. Photo taken in the elevator on the way to the Skydeck.

Sources:

http://www.chicagohs.org/history/capone.html
http://www.theskydeck.com/for-kids/fun-facts
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicago_Union_Station

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