|Chicago is a city located in the Cook County, Illinois, which is located in the northeastern part of Illinois, and the unofficial capital of the Midwest region of the United States of America. It's the third-largest city and metropolitan area in the United States, after New York and Los Angeles. |
Chicago's skyline from North Avenue Beach The Sears Tower and the Loop seen from the near south side
Chicago is known as The Windy City although people disagree about whether this refers to the severe winds that blow off the Lake Michigan or the hot air of Chicago's notoriously corrupt politicians. The nickname originated in an editorial in the New York Sun during the city's bid for the 1893 World's Fair, wherein the editor railed against the city's raucous boosterism: suggesting that no one pay attention to the "nonsensical claims of that windy city. Its people could not hold a world's fair even if they won it."
Chicago is also known as The Second City for two reasons. The first Chicago was destroyed by the Great Chicago Fire and had to be entirely rebuilt upon itself. So Chicago today is the "second city" in the most literal meaning of the phrase. (Except that no native of Chicago has ever heard this explanation.) It also refers to its historical position as the United States' second largest city, after New York City, though it has long since been surpassed in population by Los Angeles.
Finally, Chicago is sometimes known as The City That Works, which has more than a single meaning. It refers to the long labor tradition as well as the long hours worked by residents, as well as a stable, municipal government which provides numerous services to its inhabitants. Some people from other areas suggest that it mostly refers to the corruption in city government.
The climate is temperate continental, and quite variable. August is hot and humid, with some days reaching 100 Fahrenheit and 100% humidity (though lakefront neighborhoods are breezy and cooler); late January and February may see subzero temperatures, with even lower wind-chill factors (the "no exposed skin" regimes). Snow is usually limited to a handful of heavy storms per season, with dustings in between. Shorter timescales also vary widely- temperatures may swing 30 degrees Fahrenheit within a week. May and September are mild and highly recommended, though the lake effect prolongs a pleasant Autumn through October, and sometimes into November.
CityOfChicago.org, the official City of Chicago web site is a good source of information about the city, whereas Learn Chicago has some coverage on its history.
Chicago's visitor information centers offer maps, brochures and other information for tourists.
• Chicago Water Works Visitor Information Center - 163 E. Pearson Avenue - Open everyday from 7:30am-7pm. Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and New Year's Day.
• Chicago Cultural Center Visitor Information Center - 77 E. Randolph Street - Monday - Thursdays 10am-7pm; Fridays 10am-6pm; Saturday, 10am-5pm; Sunday, 11am-5pm. Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and New Year's Day.
• The Chicago Tribune ("The Trib") is the Chicago area's biggest daily.
• The Chicago Sun-Times is the other major daily.
• New City is a weekly alternative arts and entertainment magazine, distributed every Wednesday.
• The Chicago Defender is Chicago's biggest African-American daily.
• The Chicago Reader is a free weekly newspaper distributed beginning each Thursday. It includes extensive listings of local arts, music, and events.
• Chicago Magazine is a monthly handy guide to events, dining, and shopping for the upcoming month.
Free wireless Internet access (splash) and public terminals at the Chicago Public Library. Visitors without a Chicago Public Library card can present photo ID to use the library computers at the downtown Harold Washington Library Center or the suburban branch libraries.
As in almost the entire United States, dial 911 to get emergency help. Dial 311 for all non-emergency situations in Chicago. Chicagocrime.org coordinates the Chicago Police crime data with Google maps.
Chicago, despite having a lowered crime rate, is still not exactly the safest city. Avoid the Near South outside of Michigan Avenue at night, as this is where the homeless, drunks, and pickpocketers hang out. It is also best to take caution in the Loop at this time. Chicago has many beggars-just ignore them and keep on walking. Also take extreme caution in Chinatown, Pilsen, Bucktown-Wicker Park west of the busy intersection at its center, and the Near West area near the Oprah studios. When taking the train south to Hyde Park, get off exactly at the Hyde Park stop and not before or after-you'll have to walk through some decayed neighborhoods.
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O'Hare terminal, Chicago
Whatever you need you can buy it in Chicago at stores raging from ultra budget to ultra luxury. Destination shopping is quite convenient along the Michigan Avenue strip (from the Loop to the beach, use Chicago, Grand, or Lake stops on Red Line), including many designer boutiques, and several multi-storey malls. Additional brands are available from off-strip shops to the south and west of Michigan.
State Street features department stores such as Marshall Field's, Carson Pirie Scott, and H&M. Discounts can be found at Nordstrom Rack, TJ Maxx and Filene's Basement. There are also many upscale and discount malls in near and far suburbs.
• Lake cruises depart from several downtown destinations, including Navy Pier, for various prices, durations, and levels of amenities.
• Forest preserves are in the far north and south sides, and into nearby suburbs. They are excellent for biking, jogging, and picnicking.
• The Indiana Dunes are quieter beaches within a moderate drive of downtown.
• Lake Geneva is a summer getaway across the Wisconsin border. Nearby are the Kettle Moraine state parks, with good mountain biking.
Amtrak Turbo train No. 67, Chicago