Chicago Cultural Center houses a useful tourist information office (where I found the leaflet which led me to the jewel of Second Presbyterian Church) but it's also somewhere you should visit for itself.
The building dates from 1897 and was originally the city's library. It is a typical example of 'Victorian' civic building, complete vaguely-ancient-Greek architecture....you'll see hundreds of similar examples in the UK. But inside there are the most beautiful stained-glass domes (at least one is Tiffany, and is claimed to be the largest Tiffany dome in the world), and white Carrara marble staircases, and exquisite glittering mosaic panels.
There are also events and exhibitions: check the website below for information.
Don't just visit the TI office: take the time to explore the building a little more. It will repay your efforts. I wouldn't have done so if it had not been for Chicago VT-er Riorich55, who introduced me to the beauties within the building. :-)
I went there an a school trip to look at some works of art,I think the true art, the true culture, was in the building it self. The South Staircase with winding rails was majestic, as well as the hall which housed it. An arched entrance way with the names of the great writers of the ages carved in marble. The Grand Army of the Republic Hall, with famous battles of the Civil War remembered throughout it. The Preston Bradley Hall with it's Tiffany Dome (a major piece of art in it's own). And inscriptions from every language imaginable to the human tongue. These are the things that fascinated me. These are the things that brought the building to life. These where the things that impressed me the most as works of art.
The Visitor Information Center at the Chicago Cultural Center is a great first stop on your visit. There are countless brochures, maps, and other resources to help you plan your trip. This is also where you can pick up free tickets for the Loop Tour Train, which is offered on Saturdays from May through September at 11am, 11:40am, 12:20pm, and 1pm. The tour takes place on an elevated train that circles the Loop 3 times while a tour guide describes the history and architecture. While you're at the Cultural Center, check out the 38-foot Tiffany stained-glass dome in the Preston Bradley Hall in the south end of the building. You may also want to take a look at the schedule of performances during your visit, as they claim to be "one of the most comprehensive free arts showcases in the United States."
Visitor Center Hours
Monday - Thursday: 8am - 7pm
Friday: 8am - 6pm
Saturday: 9am - 6pm
Sunday: 10am - 6pm
Holidays: 10am - 4pm
Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and New Year's Day
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.