Don't know much about Chicago? This is a great place to start your visit: two big floors of exhibits cover the history of the Windy City from indigenous settlement to modern metropolis. Topics include the Great Chicago Fire, Eastland disaster, the stockyards/meat-packing era, Haymarket riot, 1968 racial and Democratic National Convention riots, jazz, organized crime… too many to mention. Famous Chicagoans are also included as well as Illinois' most well-known son, Abraham Lincoln: you can see the bed he died in after being carried from Ford's Theater.
I am a history lover but admit that my eyes simply wore out after the first couple of hours: there is a LOT to read and some of the text was badly lit and difficult to see without strain. Ideally it's a place best covered in more than one visit but at $14 a ticket that just wasn't going to happen. Cross-eyed, we finally gave up on the written material and just wandered around enjoying the many interesting artifacts - from fashion to toys to transport - that were the brainchildren of Chicago innovators and inventors.
On your way out, stop into the children's section on the first floor and create your own free souvenir postcard: it'll be waiting in your email box when you get home!
A little bit of nostalgia for me were the old dioramas that illustrate the first century of the city's story. I remembered those vividly from my childhood so they were fun to see again.
Museum has the following exhibits on its 2 floors (there is also a Research Center on the 3rd floor - ask for a pass at the reception):
- 1st floor: president Lincoln, dioramas and low rider (also, right now museum has Dior`s dresses exhibit);
- 2nd floor: world`s fairs, architecture, fort of dearborn, chicago fire, L car, Al Capone, pioneer train and stained glass.
A complete newcomer in Chicago, I found this museum very interesting and spent about 2 hours walking and reading.. They also have a free tour guide (tour starts at 1.30pm).
Most interesting things for me were:
- Lincoln`s death bed (see my picture #2).
Being 6'4" tall (~193cm), when the average height for men in US was only 5'6" (~167cm), he had to be placed on the bed diagonally.
- L car. You can get inside of it.
- dioramas of Great Chicago Fire, fort Deaborn, etc.
Entrance fee (except on Mondays when it`s free) is $12.
Al CAPONE´S MUSEUM
Al Capone stated:
“Ninety per cent of the people of Cook County drink and gamble, and my offense has been to furnish them with those amusements. Whatever else they may say, my booze has been good and my games have been on the square. Public service is my motto.”-Al Capone.
This might be a weird “Thing to do” to visit Chicago. But knowing more of Chicago´s story for almost hundred years from now I think we have the right to know its history. Every place in the world had some particularly own bad legendary stories to tell like for instance Hitler to Germany, F. Castro to Cuba, Nero to Italy, Marcos to Philippines so Al Capone to Chicago. Although knowing Al Capone´s life philosophy could give a negative influence to those who never knew about Chicago´s past but for some other reasons this might give moral lessons for those who really wanted to dig the truth behind this legendary criminal history. One thing I should emphasize here, I don´t glorify Al Capone´s notorious deeds but I just want to express and by this means a warning that bad acts and criminal intentions will never have happy end. I hope and pray that what Al Capone did will never happen again in the future.
Visiting this kind of museum is for me an eye-opener and considered not only a mere story of the past but also a warn signal for the future.
(It can be that this museum at present is no longer opened for public. But this link below will lead you further to his Story.)
Formerly known as the Chicago Historical Society, the Chicago History Museum is the place where you can learn about the rich history of the city. The museum is not too big compared to other museums in Chicago, but you can easily spend several hours here reading the descriptions and history in the exhibits. Events that are carefully captured include the Great Chicago Fire in 1871 and the World's Columbian Exposition in 1893. You also get to learn about the famous people of Chicago whose names appear everywhere in the city including buildings, streets, and parks. The museum does offer free days like some of the other museums. Currently as of Spring 2008 admission to the museum is free on Mondays, while it is $14 on other days.