‘If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible,’ begins Barack Obama, ‘…tonight is your answer.’ But in the frosty, electric air above Grant Park we’re not just anywhere in America: we’re in Chicago. After the tens of thousands hear their junior senator, a former community organizer in Chicago’s checkered South Side, accept the highest political office, many walk in a daze up Michigan Ave under the towering night-lit monuments of the city in which they live, crying and laughing, elated and overwhelmed.
Of course, no story of Chicago goes without being dichotomous opposites, and even as the afterglow of that evening faded, another brutal winter brought headlines of political scandal and economic asperity. But all the way down the line, the essence of Chicago has duplicity unlike any other American city – a place where high- and lowbrow art makes a messy collision, where restaurants are equally notable for cutting-edge concepts like molecular gastronomy and burly bricks of sausage-stuffed deep-dish. Residents in the ‘city that works’ play pretty damn hard too – sprawling on sandy beaches, packing bars until 5am and whiling away an entire summer with outdoor festivals.
But when you approach the heart of the city from one of the highways that connect it to the rest of the pancake-flat Midwest and its airports, the cluster of buildings that rises so dramatically above the glassy surface of Lake Michigan might well make you gasp. The clattering roar of the El train passing overhead announces that Chicago is seizing its moment in history. A place where all things are possible: this is Chicago.
Ready to go?
These tours & activities make it easy:
- Get the best discounts with the Chicago City Pass
- Discover downtown Chicago's Art Deco Architecture
- Set off from Chicago along historic Route 66
- See Chicago at your own pace on a hop-on hop-off tour
Last updated: Jan 24, 2013
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