A Very Touristy Guide to Chicago


While in Chicago for a conference we manged to squeeze in a few touristy things.  We had to pick and choose due to our limited time, but I think we did very well. Although numbered, they are not necessarily in order of preference, except for the “cloud”/ “bean”.  That is my number one.

My Chicago Touristy Tips:

  1. The Cloud Gate Sculpture

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This iconic Chicago tourist spot is best seen early in the morning when the crowds aren’t around.  We went on a ridiculously sunny afternoon when it was packed with selfie taking tourists intent on getting a good snap. Designed by an Indian-born British artist Anish Kapoorit was construtced between 2004 and 2006, and 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.  And it is the quintessential structure of coolness.

2. Tribune Tower

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This building is straight out of Batman, with it’s addition of sculptures and ornate buttresses. What struck our attention was the various stones, from other architectural buildings around the world that are built into it.  In 1922 the Chicago Tribune hosted an international interior and exterior design competition for its new headquarters to mark its 75th anniversary, and offered $100,000 in prize money with a $50,000 1st prize for “the most beautiful and distinctive office building in the world”. More than 260 entries were received. And the winning design incorporated stones from other exceptional buildings throughout the world, including pieces from buildings with social importance, e.g. the Berlin Wall. We tried to look at all the stones, and see which of the buildings we had visited in our other travels, like the stone from Trondheim Cathedral. Or the Dublin Post office!

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3. The Magnificent Mile

Not so much a tourist destination as a collection of buildings and shops that run through the main thoroughfare of Michigan Avenue.  We visited quite a few of the shops- research purposes only of course.  As everything is MEGA expensive.  But in the sun it’s a lovely walk with lots more architecture to wonder at.

Chicago

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