Chicago The Windy City
Integrated as a city in 1837, Chicago is strategically located near a portage in between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River Watershed. With its accessible and promising location before the advent of aircraft, the city underwent a rapid growth in the mid-nineteenth century, thus, making it one of the largest players in the technological, industrial, and commercial world today.
The name “Chicago” traces its origins back to a French rendition of the Native American word “shikaakwa”, from the highly diverse group of Miami-Illinois language, which means “wild onion”, ”wild garlic” or “wild leek” which was noted by Henri Joutel in his journal of 1866 as abundantly growing in the area. In the mid-18th century, the area was inhabited by the Potawatomi, a tribe of Native American origin, who took to replace the settlement of the Miami and the Sauk and Fox peoples. The first known non-indigenous settler in the area was Jean Baptiste Point du Sable, who arrived in the 1870’s and is commonly known as the founder of Chicago (but was only officially recognized as the city’s founder in 1968). And speaking of settlers, a special note of interest is the first recorded birth in the area of Eulalia Pointe du Sable, who is the daughter of Jean Baptiste Point du Sable and his Indian wife from the Potawatomi tribe in 1796.
Going around this very vast and beautiful place is easy with Chicago’s very useful transport system. From your arrival to your departure, many Chicago based companies can make your travel very relaxing. From buses and trains, to car and shuttle services, Chicago can provide its tourists with transportation that is affordable and cost-effective. Being an easy-to-navigate walking city, those wanting to explore the cities intricate offerings can also use bicycles and water taxis to go around town.
Also the home to different types of art, Chicago is indeed a sight for one’s eyes. Various sculptures showcasing the works of figurative artists like Lorado Taft (The Crusader), and Brioschi (Christopher Columbus) can be found in strategic locations in the city. Historical events that shaped the city as to what it is today can also be found there. The Great Northen Migration by Saal is one of these events that have been memorialized by art. Also of interest to majority of tourists is the seated statue of Abraham Lincoln (Abraham Lincoln: The Head of State), also by Taft in which many tourists say is the highlight of their visit. The city has also taken into giving recent local heroes such as Michael Jordan a memorial of immense value. Other than publicly displayed sculptures, the city also boasts of breath-taking and impressive cityscape skylines made by architects such as Louis Sullivan, Daniel Burnham, Charles Atwood, Helmut Jahn and John Root. Also proof of its rich architectural heritage is the existence of various religious architecture and institutions. Adherents of Buddhaism, Judaism, Hinduism, among others, are most highly welcomed in their respective churches and the places of worship although Christianity is the most highly predominant among the inhabitants who worship.
Figurative surrealism is very strong in Chicago art. They are bizaare-looking artful representations of a variety of subjects, including people.
For those who want to feed their mind, Chicago is also the place to visit! Tracing its roots back to direct and lucid journalism, Chicago is popular for its strong tradition of social realism. It is also of interest to note that most of Chicago literature focuses with social criticism on itself, thus keeping exultation in check. Also, the rich, colorful history of Chicago has also paved its influence in the American Literary world. Three periods of its history include the time of the Great Chicago fire until the 1900’s, The Great Chicago Literary Renaissance in the 1910’s and 1920’s, and the period of the Great Depression until 1940’s.
For those who are inclined to sports, it is very interesting to note that the first ever car (or automobile, which was what it was called back then) race held in the whole of United States was held in Chicago, whose victor was J. Frank Duryea, who averaged on seven and a half miles per hour, on a track from Chicago to Evanston, Illinois on 1895. Also, Chicago is home to the Chicago cubs of the National League and the Chicago White Sox of the American league in the field of baseball. The Chicago Cubs has played more games, have had more wins, and have scored more runs than any other Major League Baseball (MLB) teams to date. In the field of football, Chicago’s team, the Chicago Bears have won a total of nine National Football League (NFL) titles, which also includes the famed Super bowl XX. The Chicago Bulls of the National Basketball Association (NBA) is one of the most highly recognized teams, making Michael Jordan who led the team into six NBA championships in eight seasons, a household name (and also, a famous memorial to see in the United Center at W. Madison Street). They also boast of player Derrick Rose, who is, to date, the youngest to ever win the highly coveted NBA Most Valuable Player award, which he won for the 2010-11 season.
Chicago takes the education of its children seriously. The governing body, Chicago Public Schools, include over 600 elementary and high schools, and also many of the so-called selective-admission magnet schools. They offer a rigorous curriculum and Academic Placement programs for the academically advanced students.
It is of interest to note that 1871, her Royal Highness, Queen Victoria and the British people have paved the way for the beginnings of what was to become the basis of the city’s first ever library by shipping cartons of books and was organized by novelist Thomas Hughes. The Chicago Public Library system is responsible for the operation of a whopping total of seventy-nine public libraries, of which includes two regional libraries, the central libraries and its numerous branches distributed all over the city.
Chicago has, and still is, one of the world centers for higher learning and education since the 1850’s. Its universities like Loyola University Chicago, Saint Xavier University, Rush University, and Shimer College are some of its most notable institutions. Chicago also boasts of the highest concentrations of theological schools, post-baccalaureate institutions, graduate schools and seminaries in the United States.
What better way to spend a lazy afternoon than a leisurely stroll in the park? Chicago, with its more than 570 parks covering over 8000 acres of land is, indeed a place to be. Living up to its motto, “Urbs in Horto” (a Latin phrase which translates to “City in a Garden”, Chicago boasts of a myriad of museums housing various items for a very diverse audience, a total of 31 sand beaches, 50 nature areas and two world-class conservatories. It is truly a place of wonder.
For the animal lovers, Chicago also is the home to Brookfield Zoo (also known as the Chicago Zoological Park), which covers an astonishing 216 acres of land and houses a total of 450 species of animals. An interesting trivia about this park – creating city is that it brought its very first inhabitant, a bear cub, for $10 on June 1st of 1874.
People seeking entertainment can also have their fill in this very beautiful city. Groups such as the Steppenwolf Theater Company, Goodman Theater, and Chicago Shakespeare Theater are some of the city’s pride, offering Broadway-Style entertainment in various locations in the city. Interesting to note is that it is Chicago’s theater community that has given birth to improvisational theater. Symphony Center is the definitely the best place for people wanting to experience a taste of Chicago’s Classical music offering, which includes one of the best orchestras in the world, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Various venues including the Harris Theater showcases the Chicago Festival Ballet, for people wanting the best in the field. Gospel Music, Chicago jazz, blues and soul are some of the popular types of musical entertainment. Chicago is also recognized as being the birthplace of house music, and was also the site of influential hip-hop scenes.
But what is the best way to relax after feeding one’s eyes and mind with the beauty of the city? Nothing else but food! And yes, Chicago has plenty! Laying claims to numerous regional specialties, Chicago cuisine traces itself back to reflect its ethnic and working class groups. A trip to Chicago is never complete without tasting its’ nationally renowned deep-dish pizza, which, simply put, is pizza crust overloaded with a thick layer of toppings that makes it look like it’s the best pizza on the face of the planet. Also popular in the city is its complete opposite, the Chicago-style thin crust pizza. But to put the most in one trip, it is highly recommended for tourists to attend Chicago’s annual food festival, aptly named The Taste of Chicago during the summer season, in which many of the city’s local restaurants take part for a highly satisfying gastronomical experience.