Cultural Center, Chicago
The architecture alone is a reason to visit this spot, but it's also extremely peaceful, and there's even a cafe inside.
There wasn't a whole lot to see when I came (a great photo exhibit on Chicago neighborhoods), but it was a wonderful place to sit down and rest from the walk around the city.
There are a number of wonderful buildings along this broad boulevard with parks scattered along the way. The wide sidewalks and scale of these buildings seems reminiscent of Washington, DC. I would prefer this district to that of the skyscrapers which Chicago seems to love. The city has a propensity to tear down and rebuild things constantly. Maybe it's a carry over from when they had to rebuild after the big Chicago fire or something. Some of the tearing down is disconcerting to a preservationist. Altho they do retain many interesting period buildings as well....to be fair.
My daughter Jill and I recently visited the Chicago Cultural Center Visitor Information Center located in Chicago's first central library. Just seeing this fantastic landmark building is worth the trip there.
The Cultural Center is where many of Chicago's tours begin [such as theOffice of Tourism's Chicago Neighborhood Tours].
It's a really good idea to visit the Visitor Information Center when you arrive in the city because you will receive great city maps [free], tons of free publications about the city and surrounding areas, and there are friendly/helpful information representatives there to answer your questions.
This is not the only Visitor Center in the city, but it is the largest. TheChicago's Historic Water Tower Visitor Center at 163 East Pearson Avenue is another such center that I have visited.
On the day that Jill and I visited The Cultural Center, we walked out of there with a bag of free maps and pamphlets; in addition, we had been assisted by a very kind gentleman who looked up information and wrote it in one of the booklets with a "hard to find important phone number'.
If you want to be organized and unintimidated on your visit to Chicago, by all means, visit the Chicago Cultural Center Visitor Information Center.
The Chicago Cultural Center was formerly the Chicago Public Library until it moved to Jackson and Congress in the 90s. The Cultural Center is home to the museum of broadcasting and has several rotating exhibit. The main hall is magnificently decorated with rococco embellishments.
Its hours are from 8am-8pm most days.
Formerly the main branch of the Chicago Public Library, this "Beaux Arts" building (from 1897) now serves as a regional center for the arts. It has been carefully restored and well tended over the last decade: there are some exquisite rooms here. If you are at all interested in 19th century design, you'll want to take a look at the wonderful glass domes inside the structure, one of which is billed at the largest Tiffany Dome in the world.
Following the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, the British sent to the city an enormous amount of books, many signed by the biggest authors of the day. The assumption was that the city's library and collection were destroyed during the inferno. Funny thing was, the city of Chicago had no library before the fire. But with all these new book the city needed a place to house them, hence this beautiful Classical Revival-style structure at the corner of Washington and Michigan Avenue.
Now the Chicago Cultural Center, it's an excellent place to begin your forray into the city. There's an excellent visitor's center, a cafe and plenty of places to chill out and relax. There are also some exhibits inside that are worth a visit. Check out Radio Hall of Fame, chronicling that great medium from the earliest days to the present. The Museum of Broadcast Communication is a great nostalgia trip, especially for those who grew up on the Bozo Show, Garfield Goose and the other great children's shows that eminated from WGN in Chicago. And do not miss the small but impressive photographic exihibt Landmark Chicago featuring the work of the true heroes of the Chicago's preservation movement like Richard Nickel, Bob Thall and Barbara Crane.
This is housed in what used to be the main library. They host art exhibits, readings, and so forth, plus it's a really pretty building. It also houses the Museum of Broadcast Communication, of note because Chicago was very important in the early history of radio.