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One thing I noticed about Chicago is that it is a very technologically-advanced city - you should have seen me trying to find a public phone in downtown Chicago! I finally ended up walking into a restaurant, and they felt so bad about not being able to point me in the direction of a public phone that one of the waiters let me use his cell phone (thank goodness for friendly Chicagoans!).
Another problem I ran into was that even though my hotel provided me with everything I could have wanted and more, Internet access was only available to those who travelled with their laptop. As this wasn't my case, the frontdesk staff pointed me in the direction of Biznet Cafe, which seemed to be the only Internet cafe in the entire Magnificient Mile area. The price was $5 for the first 30 minutes, and $1 for each additionnal 10 minutes. Although the building doesn't look like much from the outside, there was actually a nice atmosphere inside, with good music, plenty of fast computers and comfortable chairs. The manager and staff were also very nice.
Biznet Cafe is located at 205 East Ohio Street, just 2 blocks down from North Michigan Avenue.
Written Oct 13, 2008
Shortly after I started out on my walking tour of downtown Chicago on a Sunday morning, I came across this scene of the bride and groom, as well as their wedding party, trying for a few good pictures on the north side of the Michigan Avenue bridge over the Chicago River. They seemed to be having a good time and the relatively light traffic was cooperating as best it could!
A bit earlier on the walk, two street muscians (2nd photo) were really banging out some nice tunes in the Ontario Street area, not far from my hotel. I remember thinking that although their music was enjoyable, it seemed to be quite loud. In doing some research for this tip I find that the city placed some restrictions on these artists as outlined below:
[Street performers here such as bucket drummers, saxophonists, bagpipers and singers are being ordered to pipe down, making Chicago the latest city to try to reduce urban noise. The City Council adopted the restrictions Wednesday to ban all performances on a busy four-block stretch of Michigan Avenue known as the Magnificent Mile. The regulations also lower acceptable decibel levels everywhere else in the city and require entertainers exceeding 55 decibels — the level of loud talking — to pack up by 8 p.m. on weeknights. Permit fees will increase from $50 to $75. The crackdown was prompted by complaints from businesses and residents such as Susan Mardell, who lives on the 29th floor of a Michigan Avenue building. She says outdoor music, especially from groups whacking on plastic buckets, "echoes up through your apartment through closed windows and closed doors. ... It's a repetitious, jarring kind of noise."] Actually, I don't think I saw another band after that one but late-April may be a bit too early in the season for them.
Updated May 6, 2008
Have you heard of the Curse of the Billy Goat? Yes, there is a legitimate reason the Chicago Cubs does not win the world series. It's the curse. Billy the owner of Billy Goat Tavern took his beloved goat, Murphy, to the game but they were kicked out of Wrigley Field. Angered Billy put a curse on the Cubs, and since then the Cubs has been going down hill. They tried to de-curse later on, but oh well, you know the history.
The famous Billy Goat Tavern is on Madison St. by the United center. You have to get their Cheezborger (~ you know as in Saturday Night Live).
Written Jan 4, 2008
No, Mayor Daley has not ordered that the official name of the city be changed to "Gotham". But it's true that in the summer there were plenty of "Gothamites" running around, as the Chicago was the prime location for the filming of the latest "Batman" epic.
Chicago has been featured in many memorable films, from "Ferris Bueller" to "The Blues Brothers", the "Home Alone" films to "North by Northwest". 2007 was a banner year in Chicago Movie History, as a record number of films were partially or wholly filmed in the windy city.
Don't be surprised to come across "location shooting" at various sites around the city. And it's not exactly unprecedented to see "the great Stars" in Chicago - sometimes at fancy or not so fancy restaurants, shopping on Michigan Ave. - or taking their children to see "Sue" at the Field Museum. (I read that in the summer of 2007, "Brangelina & Co." were given a special private tour of the museum. Nice for them.)
Written Sep 4, 2007
This largest free show of its kind is held on the lake front in August.
LOCATION: From Fullerton to Oak Street. North avenue beach is the focal point.
Friday, 17th - practice.
Saturday,18th and Sunday,19th - the actual show.
HOURS: Water show runs from 9 till 10 am. Air show runs from 11 until 4pm.
ADVICE: Bring chairs, umbrellas, food and drinks, hats and sunglasses. Come early to pick a good spot (above the ground or closer to the lake), cause it gets really crowded. Or better come see the show on the practice day - less people, same performance.
You can skip the water show part - it was just a couple of jet skis doing something on the water.. Boring.
If you want to have a better view, go to this website. It offers 5 unique (rather expensive) ways to do it. Like, watching the show from kayak on Montrose beach ($50)..
Updated Aug 19, 2007
Chicago really comes alive in the summertime, and a multitude of people visit each year.
During August of 2007, Allan and I observed how "flocks of people" are attracted to key locations along the Magnificent Mile.
1. Riverwalk Cafe & Bar at 401 North Michigan Aveneue on the concourse level [312-229-8801] has recently received a liquor license and has expanded hours, and many tourist are really enjoying the river view, the new bar menu, and the spectacular location. You are also able to dine indoors, but in the summer it's the riverside patio that is "packed".
2. Just outside the Hancock Observatory Building [already a tourist attraction itself], hordes of people stand in line or sit in the patio area to enjoy the ambience and the famouse cheesecake at the Cheesecake Factory at 875 North Michigan Avenu [312 337-1101]. I must say that the architecture of this restaurant is quite odd with all its curving surfaces and colorful light fixtures. Plus, I don't think that I have ever seen a larger, more diversified menu anywhere else.
Wow...the last page of the menu [and it's a large page] is devoted to their cheesecake list. Be warned, it will take time to make decisions about which of the many cheesecakes you wish to try. YOU SHOULD MAKE RESERVATIONS.
3. On Saturday mornings, there is a huge Farmer's Market on Division Street north and west of the Magnificent Mile. The street is closed to traffic, and a large number of "booths" are set up that sell fresh produce. We purchased delicious corn-on-the-cob and tantalizing red peppers. If we had not had such a long walk back to our hotel, we would have purchased much more. They have pastries, breads, cheeses, meats, candles, perfumes, flowers, and assorted other items.
Updated Aug 14, 2007
While walking down Michigan Avenue, we observed a rather new memorial of Jack Brickhouse, broadcaster for the Chicago Cubs for 40 years and the Chicago White Sox for 24 years as well as the Chicago Bears for 24 years.
This memorial is located in Pioneer Court at the Equitable Plaza just south of Tribune Tower. It is on the northeast corner of Michigan Avenue and the Chicago River. We noticed that the statue is gadjacent to JackBrickhouse Way sign. [see photo #3]
Jack's wife took his Baseball Hall of Fame ring to sculptor, Jerry McKenna, so that he could sculpt the ring on the Brickhouse statue's finger. It's a very authentic sculpture.
Jack was born in Peoria, Illinois in 1917, and at the age of 18 became the youngest sports announcer in the USA. He was the first voice on WGN-TV, and in 1979, he reached a personal milestone of 5,000 broadcast for WGN Radio and TV. Jack was also the 1st TV voice for the Chicago Bulls. He retired from the broadcasting book in 1981.
Jack Brickhouse was inducted into Media Wing of Baseball Hall of Fame in 1983 and in 13 other Halls of Fame throughout the country.
All this information about Jack Brickhouse is found engraved on the base of his sculpture. That is where I learned that he broadcast interviews with 6 Presidents. He had 4 Honorary Doctorates, and he wrote two Autobiographical best sellers called:"Thanks for Listening" and "A Man for All Seasons".
I was very fond of the man and remember his famous "Hey, Hey" when he broadcast Chicago Cub Baseball Games.
Updated Aug 14, 2007
Before going to Chicago I kept reading about the loop, I had no idea what it was exactly until we made it to the city. The loop is pretty much how the train loops around downtown, going down one way and coming up pretty much the same way making a loop. So the Loop, for all those that are curious is actually the downtown area.
Written May 22, 2007
One of the saddest days for many people in the Chicago area was the day we learned that New York's Macy's was to replace our beloved Marshall Field's.
Fields really began as "Field, Palmer, Leiter & Co but when Levi Lieter and Potter Palmer left the company, it became known simply as Marshall Field & Co..
As time passed, great additions such as the wonderful display windows, the famous tea room, and the huge Christmas Tree became legends. Fields remained an independent Chicago company until 1982. Since that time, it has been transfered to many companies, the last one being the May Company Thus, all the Marshall Field's have now been renamed Macy's.
Thank goodness, Macy's decided to keep the famous clock (which you see in my pictures) and keep the tradition of the Christmas windows.
I went into Macy's for the first time on Februay 9. It seemed brighter than it did the last time I visited Fields; however, I still felt sad. Even though Fields had slipped in the "service" department of late, it was still the place to go in Chicago. It will take a great deal of time for me to feel comfortable in Macy's, but at least the beautiful building was saved, and, for me, that's very important.
Written Feb 10, 2007
Resurrection Mary is Chicago's most famous ghost. She is supposed to be the spirit of a young woman who was struck by a car along Archer Ave and along Archer Ave is usually where she is seen. The oldest stories tell of her jumping onto the running boards of cars as they drove along that street, tryign to get back to Resurrection Cemetery. Since cars no longer have running boards, the newer stories tell of her either hitchhiking or found wandering dazed along the road. Mary has been known to talk to the people she apprears to, often telling that she had a fight with boyfriend at the dance hall and decided to walk home, which is a retelling of the events which led to her death.
No one knows Mary's real name but no matter whom she appears to or what she says or does, Mary is always trying to get back to Resurrection Cemetery, and at least one attempt has been made to catch her. That event culminated with her grasping the bars at the gate and then disappearing into a bright flash of fire and light. For years after that, the bars appeared burned with a human grip on them, scars which resisted every attempt at removal until the Church finally removed the bars altogether.
So... if you should be wandering down Archer Ave and see a young woman in outdated clothes, possibly still wearing dancing shoes, give her a lift, especially in the cold weather when she normally appears. Mary usually appears to people in the coldest months of winter, not Halloween. Sightings of her have become fewer over the years, or maybe we just don't recognize her any more.
Updated Mar 6, 2006
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