- Al Was Here: 5 days in September 2013.
- Recommended number of days: 3.
- My score: 3.5 / 5. Chicago is pretty good and I mean it’s worth a visit. Personally I would not repeat it because in 5 days I saw the city amply, but had I gone only for a couple of days, I would try to go back.
Its only great disadvantage is the freezing cold in winter, with usual temperatures of -15ºC and below. This happens not only because of its geographical location (Toronto is relatively close, but further north, and less cold), but because:
- Being away from the sea, which softens the temperatures. Lake Michigan, as big as some seas, not only does not have that moderating effect, but causes an intense environmental humidity. In addition, the city is built on marshlands, which increases this humidity.
- There is no natural barrier that protects it from the arctic wind, which blows full year round.
But if we overlook these harsh winter months, the so-called “city of the wind” is a modern and very well developed city, with multiple parks, walkways, beaches and jetties to enjoy the Lake (as I say, as big as a sea), museums, exhibitions, hundreds of interesting cafes and restaurants and, New York aside, the best city in the United States in architectural terms.
Why does an imposing metropolis develop right in this place? The reason is its proximity to the river with the largest basin in North America, Mississippi. French who colonized the area in the seventeenth century coming from the great lakes, realized (or rather, were informed by Native Americans) that just a few kilometers away from the current Chicago and Illinois rivers, tributaries of the Mississippi passed, that allowed transportation through the river to the Gulf of Mexico. Thanks to multiple fluvial engineering works at the beginning of the 20th century, the boom of commerce encouraged the development of the city. Architects from all over the country were offered interesting possibilities to build skyscrapers to compete with New York, which explains the large number of magnificent old buildings, mainly art deco, that combine appropriately with modern ones, forming one of the most interesting cities in terms of architecture throughout North America.
WHAT TO DO
- ONE-DAY ITINERARY
- THE GREAT SKYSCRAPERS: WILLIS, TRUMP AND JOHN HANCOCK CENTER TOWERS
- MUSEUMS: CHICAGO INSTITUTE OF ART AND PLANETARIUM
- WHEN TO GO
- BY LAND
- GETTING AROUND IN THE CITY
- ACCOMMODATION AND RESTAURANTS
- DANGERS AND PROBLEMS