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Walking Along Michigan Avenue
Walking along Michigan Avenue you can see Water Tower Plaza - a huge shopping mall that has a Disney store and other stores.
"Filenes Bargain Basement" is supposed to be discount name-brands.
You will see the Old Water Tower that is one of only two buildings to have survived the great Chicago Fire.
There is a nice bookstore on the corner called "Border's" after the old Water Tower. You must see F.A.O. Schwartz toystore in the next block after 'Border's' - even if you don't want to buy toys!
Visiting Schwartz toy store you can play with the toys, and they have an annoying song they play all the time, "Welcome to my world!" This toy store is 3 or 4 storeys.
John Hancock Building is right across the street, if you'd like to go up to the observation platform - admission is $7, and it's open until midnight.
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There are 3 main areas for good shopping in Chicago:
1. The Loop/Downtown (State Street): mostly high street shops and department stores
2. The Magnificient Mile (Michigan av): more fancy shops (i.e. Tiffany & Co., designers) and a couple of high street ones (i.e. H&M). It's also where you'll find the Water Tower, which is a mall that has stores such as Akira Chicago and Victoria's Secret among many others. The Water Tower is next to the John Hancock Observatory, so when you're exhausted from shopping, you can go up to the Signature Lounge on the 96th floor for a drink, overlooking Lake Michigan and the city.
3. Lincoln Park: cute boutiques and unique shops.
Mc Cormick Tribute Plaza
it is a nice way to unwind here after a hectic walking tour of millenium park during the spring and summer and autumn why? since the huge ice skating rink is replaced by a huge Park Grill Outdoor restaurant that's why (see my nightlife and restaurant tips for separate reviews of the Park Grills and don't forget the video). I included this in Michigan Avenue since it is located in front of Michigan Avenue. And what is more relaxing than having a brewskie in a park with good food and ambiance right? plus the Park Grille Restos and int Mc Cormick Tribute Plaza offers assorted activities in the non snowy months like jazz festivals, music, and more.
- Food and Dining
- National/State Park
Summerdance - free concerts on Michigan Ave
I just got back from wading my way through the crowds during Taste of Chicago...it was not my destination, but rather I went past all the crowds in the park to get on Balbo street to find one of my favorite seasonal treats...Summerdance. Free dance lessons and live performaces right along Michigan Avenue, all summer long. So, I'm inspired to share some of the great music coming up, so if you happen to be in Chicago on one of these dates...you'll really treat yourself if you check this out.
Just got back from seeing the Maxwell St. Klezmer Band - very kosher cool!
See the whole summer schedule at www.chicagosummerdance.org. Here are some that I think will be fun:
July 9 - Lost Bayou Ramblers (Cajun Swamp)
July 16 - Chuchito Valdes Afro-Cuban Ensemble
July 21 - Chicago Afrobeat Project (70s funk and jazz fusion)
July 28 - Raul Jaurena's I Love Tango
August 11 - Funkadesi (East Indian, Funk & Reggae)
August 27 - C.J. Chenier & Red Hot Louisiana Band (Zydeco)
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The Magnificent Mile of Shopping
I am contemplating of doing this tip into the tourist traps since the Magnificent Mile is One big luxe shopping area hehehe in Michigan avenue area, particulary starting from the Chicago River to Oak Street in the Near North Side community area. Aside from that, we have to thank the famous Architect Daniel Burnham for including this area for his plans (he also planned parts of Washington DC and Baguio City in the Philippines in the 1900's). and the great real estate Arthur Robloff for coining the word "Magnificent Mile" to this area. The Magnificent Mile contains a mixture of upscale department stores, restaurants, luxury retailers, residential and commercial buildings, financial services companies and hotels, and caters primarily to tourists and the affluent. The area also has a high concentration of the city's major media firms, such as the Chicago Tribune newspaper, and advertising agencies. The Magnificent Mile includes 3,100,000 sq ft (288,000 m2) of retail space, 460 stores, 275 restaurants, 51 hotels, and a host of sightseeing and entertainment attractions . Numerous prestigious buildings are located along the Magnificent Mile, such as the Wrigley Building and the John Hancock Center, places listed on the National Register of Historic Places such as The Old Chicago Water Tower District and Chicago Landmarks such as Tribune Tower and the Allerton Hotel.
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Did you know that once Michigan Ave was the beach on Lake Michigan? Hence it's name. Since the cities founding, the shore line has been pushed eastward into the Lake, creating parks and more space.
The city of Chicago, passed a law, called the "Burnham Plan" that set aside everything to the east of Michigan Avenue as public park. Thus as the shoreline was filled in, first by the railroads, to push closer to downtown (they're below street level), then by the city to create either sites for Worlds Fairs (1890's and 1930's) and then later under the Burnham Plan for public parks. Michigan Avenue has become the quintessential face of Chicago. It's not the sky-line. It's not the center of Shopping (that's the loop and north Michigan Avenue). It's the historic hotels, grand vistas and link to the cities heart.
Michigan Avenue- A "Must Shop"
You've heard of 5th Avenue, Rodeo Drive, the Champs Elysees; well Chicago's "must shop" street is North Michigan Avenue a.k.a the Magnificent Mile. Perfect for the self proclaimed professional shopper, or someone who wants to take a stroll and experience a true Chicago institution.
If you're a bargain shopper, do not be deterred by the designer stores like Louis Vuitton and Cartier, more wallet-friendly stores such as the Gap, and the Disney Store and everything in between can be found on Michigan Avenue. A personal favorite is the 3 story H&M! Be sure to visit Water Tower Place- a shopping mall at the north end of the street if you can't find what you're looking for outside.
For a fun history lesson visit the Old Water Tower across from the Water Tower Place shopping mall. As a survivor from the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, its architecture stands in stark contrast to the modern buildings that surround it.
For a bird's eye panoramic view of the city, an alternative to the Sears Tower (now the Willis Tower) Skydeck check out the John Hancock Center's observation deck.
- Arts and Culture
Architecture-Chicago Tribune Tower
The Chicago Tribune Tower was built during 1922-1925, the design was the result of an international competition by the Chicago Tribune that offered a $50,000 prize to design "the most beautiful and eye-catching office building in the world".
The winning entry by architects Raymond Hood and John Howells, with a crowning tower with flying buttresses, was inspired by the Butter Tower at the French cathedral in Rouen. The base of the building contains 136 stones from famed sites and structures from all over the world collected by eccentric owner Col. Robert Mc Cormick and Chicago Tribune reporters, some of which I suspect were not exactly approved removals, including the Parthenon, Taj Mahal, Great Wall of China, Westminster Abbey, the Alamo and there's even a moon rock displayed in one of the windows. Near the main entrance are carved images of Robin Hood (Hood) and a howling dog (Howells) to commemorate the architects.
A statue of Revolutionary War hero Nathan Hale, who is known for proclaiming "I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country" before being executed by the British for being a spy, stands in front of the building.
The Chicago Tribune newspaper was printed in this building until 1982 when printing operations were moved to the Freedom Center on Chicago Avenue, the original location was selected because it was close to the city center, accessible by rail and near the Chicago River in order to receive paper from the Tribune's paper mills in Canada. The building still houses the Tribune's offices.
The Water Tower
As you walk along Michigan Avenue the 154 ft (47m) Water Tower in its Gothic Revival style stands out among the other buildings. Along with the nearby Pumping Station they were the only 2 public buildings to survive the Fire of 1871.
Michigan Avenue Bridge
Michigan Avenue Bridge crosses the Chicago River to connect the Loop with the Magnificient Mile in downtown Chicago. This bascule bridge was completed in 1920, and it was built in what could be described as the oldest part of Chicago: in 1673, French explorers Louis Joliet and Jacques Marquette became the first Europeans to sail on the Chicago River, on their way to their discovery of the Mississippi River. In the 1770s, Jean Baptiste Point du Sable became the first permanent settler in Chicago when he established a trading post at the bridge's north end. In 1803, Fort Dearborn was built at the south end of the bridge. It was destroyed during the War of 1812, but there are markers on the sidewalk that indicate where the Fort used to stand.
Perhaps drawing on its historic location, four bas-relief sculptures were included in the design of the bridge (one on each of the four bridgehouses). Each of them represents one of the major events that shaped the history of the city from its beginning to the construction of the bridge: the discovery of Chicago by European explorers, the attack on Fort Dearborn, the arrival of the city's first citizens, and the rebuilding of Chicago after the Great Fire of 1871.
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Shopping on the Magnificient Mile
Before going to Chicago, I'd heard a lot about all the shops on Magnificient Mile, but I had no idea the city was such a fashion mecca! Chicago's Magnificient Mile could be seen as the equivalent of NYC's Fifth Avenue or LA's Rodeo Drive, with the exception that in-between the high-fashion stores, you'll find some more accessible shops and might actually be able to afford something! The portion of Michigan Avenue referred to as "Magnificient Mile" stretches between the Chicago River and Oak Street, and it was the construction of the Michigan Avenue Bridge in 1920 that gave rise to this new high-end shopping district. Avid shoppers will probably want to spend quite a few hours in some of the world's largest department stores, including Bloomingdale's, Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom, Macy's and Lord & Taylor. If you feel like going upscale, you can also check out Cartier, Escada, Chanel, Ralph Lauren, Hermès, Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Giorgio Armani, among others. The Apple, Disney, Hershey's and American Girl stores are also located on Magnificient Mile.
As for me? Well, those who know me even a little bit won't be surprised to hear that I spent most of my money at Borders!!
- Luxury Travel
Michigan Avenue Bridge Houses
There are four bridge-houses with sculptural relief panels that are made out of limestone at the edges of the Michigan Avenue Bridge. J. E. Fraser and Henry Herring were responsible for these beautiful artistic reliefs.
Michigan Avenue Bridge is a classical design that was modeled after the Seine bridges of Paris, Edward Bennett was a consultant to the Chicago Plan Commission, and he wanted these bridge houses to commemorate the fact that Chicago's first settlers had lived along the banks of of the Chicago River at this spot where the Michigan Avenue Bridge now stands. Notice that there are metal boundary lines set in the sidewalks near the bridge used to mark off where Fort Dearborn once stood.
These relief panels on each of the bridge-houses are often photographed and admired. I photographed two of the four:
"Regeneration": (This scene commemorates the devastation created by the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 , but especially about the rebuilding of Chicago. The city was left in ashes. But the people of the city rose because of their indomitable spirit and energy to create a greater city.
"Defense":(The scene pictures the scene from the Fort Dearborn Massacre of 1812. The Fort's people are shown being led to safety by a Native American scout. Engraved on it was:
"Fort Dearborn stood almost on this spot.
After an heroic defense in eighteen
Hundred and Twelve, the garrison together
with women and children was forced to evacuate
the fort led forth by Captain Wells. They
were brutally massacred by the Indians.
They will be cherished as martyrs in
Our early history"
It was erected by the trustees of th Ferguson Monument fund in 1928.
The two that I did not photograph:
"The Discoverers" depicts the French explorers, Louis Jolliet and Jacques Marquette and others who explored the Mississippi River.
"The Pioneers" tells of the early settler and fur trader, John Kinzie, who purchased his cabin in 1804 from Jean Baptiste Pointe DuSable while he lead a group through the wilderness.
Don't miss these wonderful Bridge Houses and their powerful relief carvings.
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If you like shopping, then Micigan Avenue, or also known as the Magnificent Mile is the place for you!
Its got hundreds upon hundreds of shops, and several malls if you dont want to walk in the cold!
Its a really good atmosphere walking down the street. Its one of the most popular streets in Chicago, so its another must see!
Michigan Avenue Bridge
Being from Canada's Maritime Provinces, I always like to see water! Consequently, I was very happy to find the Chicago River area around the Michigan Avenue Bridge. It was quite a visual treat as I walked only a few steps further south from the Tribune and Wrigley buildings (2nd photo). This Beaux Arts-style bridge was completed in 1920 and, along with with the sculptures on its impressive bridge house towers that control operation of the lift-bridge spans, it made for a grand entrance into the city's downtown area.
My 3rd photo shows a closer view of one of the bridge houses that allow river traffic to pass by opening the two pivoted 3750-ton steel and concrete bridge sections (one on each bank) upward as required. These buildings are also adorned with very impressive bas relief sculptures of events from Chicago's history, including the plaque in my 4th photo commemorating French explorers from Canada who made their way through the area in the 1680s on their way to the Mississippi River.
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The quirky InterContinental Chicago building
As with the '35 East Wacker' building, I only later learned how quirky the present Intercontinental Chicago hotel building really was. On my very first excursion onto Chicago's streets my eyes were drawn upward to the roof of a building with a strange golden dome and what looked like an old stone chimney - I thought, maybe this is the famous 'Water Tower'! In the end, with not enough spare time, I wandered here and there over a period of a few days but never did make a special trip to see the building up-close.
According to Wikipedia: "The InterContinental Chicago hotel...currently occupies two Multi-story buildings. The historic tower, or "South Tower," is a 471 foot, 42 story building which was completed in 1929 originally as the home of the Medinah Athletic Club. The main tower, or "North Tower" is a 295 foot, 25 story addition, completed in 1961. Before the stock market crash of 1929, the United States was experiencing a building boom and one of these projects (the South Tower) was to be the future home of the Medinah Athletic Club in Chicago.
The...building was intended to combine elements of many architectural styles. At the eighth floor, its Indiana limestone facade was decorated by three large relief carvings in ancient Assyrian style. The exotic gold dome, which is Moorish in influence, originated as part of a decorative docking port for dirigibles - a notion conceived before the Hindenburg disaster in 1937 (in which 36 people died when the dirigible caught fire while docking in New Jersey). Years later, the building would lose several feet with the dismantling of an ornamental canopy on the small turret north of the dome. This chimney-like structure was originally intended to assist in the docking of these air ships, but it was never put into use. Inside the dome, a glass cupola and spiral iron staircase resembling the top of a lighthouse led down (for the airship passengers) to the hotel’s upper elevator landing.
In the tower beneath the great dome, the club featured a miniature golf course on the twenty-third floor, complete with water hazards and a wandering brook; also a shooting range, billiards hall, running track, gymnasium, archery range, bowling alley, two story boxing arena, and a junior Olympic size swimming pool - all this in addition to the ballrooms, meeting rooms, and 440 guest rooms which were available for the exclusive use of the club’s 3,500 members and their guests
Four years after the Wall Street Crash of 1929 the Shrine Organization filed for bankruptcy protection. In the following year they lost control of the building, and in the decades after, the building went through various incarnations, including as a hotel and a brief stint as residential apartments. In 1988, InterContinental Hotels and Resorts purchased the property outright and completed the first phase of extensive renovations prior to its re-opening in 1990."
The history of some of these buildings is amazing!
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