Chicago is a great choice for those who love to live in a bustling city but without the costs or stress of a big city. Did you know that Chicago has the only river in the world that flows backwards? In this post you can find more facts and all the information about Chicago that you’re looking for.
Chicago, Illinois (IL) is the biggest city of the American Midwest and was founded on the shores of Lake Michigan in 1830. The city was established as the center of water transport and became an industrial metropolis.
How did the city get the name Chicago? There are different theories, but the most accepted name origin relates to the Miami-Illinois word “shikaakwa” which means smelly onion. Don’t worry, Chicago doesn’t actually smell like onions. However, back in the days there were growing wild leeks, smelly onions, at the edge of the short Chicago River. When the French started exploring the area, they changed Shikaakwa into Chicago; the name we know today.
Chicagoans is the name of inhabitants of Chicago and the population consists of 2,720,546 citizens. Chicago is extremely diverse. At the same time the city is known as the most divided city in America since it’s very uncommon for various racial or ethnic groups to be residing together in the same neighborhood.
Weather: Continental Climate
Size of Chicago: 606.42 km² (equals 234.14 mi²)
Chicago’s Time Zone: Central Time Zone
County Chicago: Cook County
Area codes: 224 / 312 / 331 / 464 / 630 / 708 / 773 / 847 / 872
Zip code: All zip codes in Chicago start with 606, followed by two more numbers
Things to do in Chicago
Parks, gardens and attractions
Millennium ParkMillennium Park is more than green grass and trees; it’s an authentic outdoor cultural center, with loads of activities. Throughout the whole year, there are things to do and see. Nearly all people know this park for the famous “Bean”, actually called the Cloud Gate that captures the surrounding Loop skyline. With the construct costs of $20 million it’s one of the most expensive sculptures in history.
But there is a lot more to experience. Pritzker Pavilion is a performance stage; the special thing is that a steel bloom unrolls over this stage. Pack some snacks and drinks and t’s the perfect spot to enjoy the free events. On hot days, the Crown Fountain is a good place to cool off. This fountain contains 22.000 glass bricks that reflect faces of Chicagoans, it’s a surprise when one of them opens its mouth and spouts water. In the wintertime, McCormick Tribune Plaza turns into a wonderful place that is ideal for practicing your ice skating skills.
Lincoln Park ZooThe 35-acre Lincoln Park Zoo is one of the last free zoos in America. When visiting this zoo, you’re able to see animals from all over the world. Most important is the wellbeing of the animals. The Lincoln Park Zoo provides world-class care and treatment for the animals.
Lincoln Park Zoo is more than just a zoo. Apart from looking at all the incredibly adorable or scary, animals, they organize a lot of events varying from breakfast with the animals to craft brews at the zoo. Also, you can find one of the most gorgeous views of Chicago while taking the Nature Boardwalk.
Garfield Park ConservatoryPlants are beyond important; we are connected to them every second of the day. You can visit this green oasis in diverse glasshouses and outdoor gardens. The Garfield Park Conservatory is the ideal place to learn more about plants or to simply enjoy their soothing beauty.
A lot of events and programs are being organized by the Garfield Park Conservatory for all kinds of interests and ages. FLEUROTICA is a creative fashion event where you create plant-based fashion accessories, besides they provide a lot of fun educational programs for children.
Buckingham FountainThis stunning crown jewel known as Grant Park is one of the largest fountains in the world; the size symbolizes the immensity of nearby Lake Michigan. In the early evening, when the sun is going down, the Buckingham Fountain comes to life. A spectacular lights and music show will be presented every hour for twenty minutes long.
Museums, art and design
Art Institute of ChicagoNo matter what kind of art you like, the impressive and extensive collection of the Art Institute in Chicago has got something for everyone. Artifacts of all sorts are included in the exhibitions, from the Thorn Miniature Rooms that are popular among children, to paintings of legendary painters such as Vincent van Gogh, Claude Monet, Georgia O’Keeffe, and so on.
Chicago Cultural CenterIn this cultural center there is a lot going on; music concerts, art exhibitions, lectures, films and theatres. It’s a perfect option if you don’t want to spend a lot of money; nearly everything that happens in this building is free and open to the public. As the icing on the cake, the building of Chicago’s Cultural Center is so dazzling that it makes the visit even more delightful.
The Field MuseumDid you know that the Field Museum has got the world’s most complete Tyrannosaurus Rex fossil? This massive natural history museum consists of 350,000 square feet of permanent exhibitions to explore, from ancient cultures to the latest scientific discoveries. You can face mummies in an old Egyptian chamber; feel what it’s like to be a bug and learn why we need them in our ecosystem. You can even watch the Field’s experiences come to life in a 3D theatre, and much more.
Navy PierThe huge towering Ferris Wheel is the first thing you see when you set foot on the pier. Navy Pier is located on the lakefront of Lake Michigan. During the hot and humid summers, the pier is a popular place to visit since there is a cool breeze coming in from the lake. You can enjoy activities such as free concerts at the Miller Lite Beer Garden, self-guided tours, theatre shows, and there are some excellent boat tours that depart from Navy Pier.
Chicago RiverwalkA great choice when you enjoy walking, the Chicago Riverwalk is a 1.25 mile path on the south bank of the Chicago River. The walk allows you to observe Chicago’s superb skyline. If you prefer to be on the water, there are plenty options such as a boat tour or kayaking. If you feel more comfortable on dry land, you can get some food or drinks at a trendy restaurant or bar overlooking the Chicago River.
North Avenue BeachYou’re going to be surprised if you see that Lake Michigan looks more like a turquoise sea than a Midwestern lake. At North Avenue Beach, you’ve got the relaxed beach feeling on one side and the impressive skyline of Chicago on the other. In summer this place is excellent for playing sports on the beach, taking a swim in the refreshing lake, or reading a book while enjoying the sun.
If you’re not Afraid of Heights
360 ChicagoBy now, you probably noticed that Chicago’s skyline is an attraction in itself. The 360 Chicago Observation Deck is one of the best places to experience this exciting view. The 360 stands for the panorama view the deck offers at 1,000 feet above the ground. In case you’re still not experiencing any kind of fear at this height, you should test the TILT 360. It’s a mechanized room where you hold on to handlebars and then the room’s windows extend outwards. As a result, you’re literally getting tilted towards North Michigan Avenue 1,000 feet below.
Willis Tower SkydeckAt the 103rd floor of the Willis Tower, 1,353 feet in the air, you’re offered spectacular views spanning up to four states (Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin and Michigan)! On top of the clear observation boxes, there is a glass balcony that extends four feet outside of the Willis Tower.
Chicago Sports Teams
Are you a sports fan? If you are you’re in the right city. Chicago has got some great sports teams with lots of history and intrigue. You can watch a game or visit a stadium for the full sports experience! Below, we have highlighted the most well-known Chicago sports teams:
- Chicago Bears: This prime-time American Football team has been in the NFL league since 1920 and makes their home in Soldier Field, near Downtown Chicago.
- Chicago Cubs: Famously known as one of Chicago’s professional baseball teams, the Chicago Cubs have been part of MLB (Major league baseball) since 1903. They play in one of the oldest and most famous stadiums in the MLB called Wrigley Field.
- Chicago White Sox: The White Sox are the second professional baseball team in Chicago. They are one of the eight charter members of the American League and have been around since 1901. They play at Guaranteed rate field in the city’s South Side.
- Chicago Blackhawks: Chicago’s professional ice hockey team was founded in 1926 and is one of the NHL’s (National Hockey League) original six member teams. They play at an indoor arena called United Center.
- Chicago Bulls: The Bulls, just like the Chicago Blackhawks make their home at the United Center. They are a very popular team in the NBA league. They have won 6 championships and 9 division titles..
- Chicago Fire FC: This professional soccer team plays in the MLS league. Similar to the Chicago Bears, their home is the Soldier Field.
ShoppingMichigan Avenue is considered to be the main shopping street in Chicago. On Michigan Avenue, you can find many malls, shops and restaurants. One of the malls is the Water Tower Place, this is a huge shopping mall located at Michigan Avenue, along the Magnificent Mile. The mall has got over 100 stores, spas and restaurants.
Oak Street, in the heart of downtown Chicago, is the destination for luxury shopping and dining. If you’re ready to shop some designer clothes, couture jewellery or fine footwear, Oak Street is the place to be.
State Street offers a great mix of shopping, entertainment and food. You can find enormous department stores like Macy’s on State and Sears with a large variety of shopping options.
Woodfield Mall is the largest shopping mall in the state of Illinois and the number one tourist attraction. The immense mall is situated in the northwest Chicago suburb of Schaumburg. In case you want to discover nearly 300 stores, restaurants, and specialty shops, you know where to go.
Upcoming Festivals and Events
Lollapalooza is an annual four-day music festival in August, located at Grant Park in Chicago. The festival has 8 stages and more than 170 bands from all over the world. There are many different music genres. During Lollapalooza you can get delicious and fresh festival food, drinks, and sweets.
North Coast Music Festival
This Festival at Northerly Island is organized every year during the Labor Day Weekend in September. You can find a wide variety of performances and acts, including; electronic, house, jam-band, indie and hip-hop.
If you’re into Jazz, this annually organized festival is definitely recommended. The Chicago Jazz Festival is held in Millennium Park and starts at the end of the August, Labor Day weekend. You can see the greatest local, as well as international jazz artists.
Taste of Chicago
This event in Grant Park is the world’s largest food festival and takes place in July. A great diversity of food is offered, from classic Chicago specialities to international cuisine. While enjoying your food, you can listen to live music, watch local artists’ work, and other acts.
Magnificent Mile Lights Festival
On the Saturday before Thanksgiving, the Magnificent Mile Lights festival event is celebrated in Chicago, Illinois. You can see over one million lights on 200 trees that brighten up the Michigan Avenue, a magical experience.
Chicago Underground Film Festival
The CUFF is an annual event displaying independent, experimental and documentary films from across the world. In June you can experience the Underground Film Festival at various venues in Chicago.
Wondering what kind of foods you definitely have to try when you’re in Chicago, Illinois? Three of Chicago’s most remarkable foods are listed below.
Deep Dish PizzasThis is an inch-thick Chicago-style pizza. The crispy buttery crust holds all the ingredients you have chosen. If you want to try it, Lou Malnati’s is the best place to go.
Chicago Hot DogHint: ketchup is a total no-go when it comes to the Vienna beef Chicago Hotdog. The hot dog has a specific list of ingredients; do you want to know which ingredients? Buy the best hot dog at Gene & Jude’s to find out.
Italian Beef SandwichA sandwich that is known for its thin sliced beef that is slow-cooked with delicious spices. Then you can choose between green peppers (sweet) or giardiniera (hot), the finishing touch is a dip in the au jus. Head to Portillo’s if you want to give it a shot.
Living in Chicago
Average Apartment Prices Chicago$1810 is the average, monthly price of an apartment in Chicago in 2020. As you may know, there are a lot of factors that influence the rental price of an apartment. First of all, the number of bedrooms; for a one-bedroom apartment, the average price is approximately $1627. If you prefer to have two bedrooms, you have to be prepared to at least pay $2165 per month.
Secondly, there are a lot of different neighborhoods in Chicago and some are more expensive than others. Before looking for an apartment, it is essential to find out which neighborhood(s) suit you best.
The four priciest neighborhoods ($2568 - $2390) are: Near North Side, Loop, Near West Side, and Near South Side.
The prices of the four least expensive neighborhoods for rent are Chatham, Chicago Lawn, Washington Heights, and South Shore. These range from $862 to $949 per month.
EducationChicago is an excellent place for post secondary education. Chicago is home to two of the world’s most famous universities; the University of Chicago is ranked 10th in the world, and the Northwestern University 31st. Other internationally ranked universities in Chicago are:
- University of Illinois
- Illinois Institute of Technology
- Loyola University Chicago