Chicago earned its nickname from its famously long-winded politicians (and maybe the weather); debuted the world’s first skyscraper in 1885; and holds more Michelin stars than any other American city. From art and architecture to culinary creativity, this Midwest metropolis is making its mark.
We stayed in Wicker Park, and took the ‘L’ – the elevated trains that make up the city’s subway system – east towards downtown Chicago and Lake Michigan. As we sped through the air to our destination, the city’s skyscrapers seemed to rise up to meet us.
I have a weakness for city skylines, and the architectural towers of Chicago look almost magical reflected in Cloud Gate or, as the locals affectionately call it, ‘The Bean.’ This shiny steel sculpture by British artist Anish Kapoor sits in the North West corner of Millennium Park and it is impossible to resist its pull, spotting yourself in the many mirrored images on its surface and snapping shots with the rest of the enamoured out-of-towners.
Millennium Park makes for a relaxing wander, filled as it is with interesting artwork and more of that impressive architecture (the Jay Pritzker Pavilion being one example). The Lake is another attraction: Chicago has 29 miles of lake front, and 18 of these are accompanied by a shore path for bikers, runners, and slow-strolling tourists like myself. Moving from skyscrapers to sand in a few short minutes provides a wonderful contrast.
Couple all this culture with incredibly friendly locals, and it’s easy to see why America’s second city is stealing hearts away from the Big Apple. It hasn’t stolen my heart from my favourite urban landscape yet, but it certainly made a start.