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Private Guided SUV Tour for up to 4 Guests
"Your expert local guide and professional chauffeur arrive at your hotel in a luxury SUV with comfortable seating for 1-4 guests plus the guide and driver. Bring your camera!Your guide will give an overview of the options for your 3-hour tour. Let Marina City Willis (Sears) Tower Merchandise Mart Harold Washington Library Board of Trade the Rookery
From $650.00
Private Guided SUV Tour for up to 4 Guests
"Your expert local guide and professional chauffeur arrive at your hotel in a luxury SUV with comfortable seating for 1-4 guests plus the guide and driver. Bring your camera!Your guide will give an overview of the options for your 3-hour tour. Let Marina City Willis (Sears) Tower Merchandise Mart Harold Washington Library Board of Trade the Rookery
From $650.00
Private Tour: Chicago Highlights
"Join this private 3-hour city tour in Portuguese English or Spanish. Visit the main tourist areas in Chicago. See places such as the Magnificent Mile River North South Loop Streeterville Gold Coast
From $99.00

Cultural Center Tips (22)

Make Music Chicago

I'm not sure if this is a new event or one that has been happening for a while, but if it is a new event I sure hope they continue it year to year.

Earlier in the day, the first day of summer 2014 which just so happened to fall on a Saturday this year in was on a sunrise shoot in Chicago. Unfortunately the sun was hidden behind some pretty dense fog at 5:15 a.m. so I didn't get any sun shots, but did get a couple of cool fog shots.

Anyway, later in the day after another photo shoot in the suburbs I took the train back into the city for about 4 hours. One of the events going on in town, besides the Zombie Walk and People in Urban Spaces (tips to follows) was an event I had not heard about until I stopped in at the Chicago Cultural Center (always a recommended first stop for visitors).

This particular event had musical performances all over Chicago. From north to south from east to west (ok, maybe not too far east since you would then be in Lake Michigan, but everything east of state street like Michigan Avenue could be considered East.

I got a few shots of several musicians, but my favorite was the drummer and the little kid.

riorich55's Profile Photo
Jun 25, 2014

Chicago Cultural Center

The Chicago Cultural Center, formerly the public library, is a magnificent building that provides an unusual role as a cultural center for the public, with free art exhibits, performances, lectures, workshops, and more in a magnificent setting.

As I note in my "Untouchables" tip, it also provided the location for several scenes in the film The Untouchables.

WulfstanTraveller's Profile Photo
Feb 12, 2014

Chicago Cultural Center

The building is beautiful and should be toured just for its architecture. There was an exhibit on the top floor that was fun, funny, and insightful. There is also artwork on the ground floor as well. The visitors center for the city is located inside of the building as well.

iam1wthee's Profile Photo
Jul 18, 2013

A definite 'must'

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'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. :-)

leics's Profile Photo
Oct 16, 2012
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Hop onto the statue outside cultural center

Seems everyone who can, does. Not easy getting up onto the large
statue of a steer outside the cultural center, but once I saw someone do it, I decided
that I could do it also. Swing one leg up and have someone give you a big push.

SONG's Profile Photo
Jun 23, 2011

Take a peak at Chicago's old library

Construction of this magnificient Neo-classic building began in 1893, and in 1897 it opened as the Chicago Central Library, which then was the city's main library. It remained as such until the Harold Washington Library Center opened in 1991. The building then reopened as the Chicago Cultural Center, a center for performing, visual and literary arts. Access to the building is free, and it's well worth stopping by to take a look at its impressive architecture and design. My own favorite feature was the huge Tiffany dome that sits on top of the Preston Bradley Hall. It is the largest stained-glass Tiffany dome in the world and it is valued at $35 million! As I walked through the CCC, I couldn't help but feel a little disappointed as a major book lover that it wasn't a library anymore. I later made it to the Harold Washington Library Center (see Photo 4), and although as one of the world's largest public libraries it offers way more space than the old Chicago Central Library, it definitely doesn't have as much charm. But anyways, once you're done walking around the building, you can also stop by some of the Center's free exhibits. I thought the Chicago Landmark Gallery, a photo collection of the city's historic, cultural and architectural heritage, was especially interesting.

Jefie's Profile Photo
Apr 04, 2011

Cultural landmark

Proclaimed one of Chicago's historical landmarks in 1976, the Cultural Center is a splendid sight to see with it's amazing architecture and design. Its exterior appearance and its interior spaces are based on classical Greek and Italian Renaissance precedents. The interior is extensively decorated with mosaics, marbles, bronze, and two stained-glass domes designed by the Tiffany Glass and Decorating Company. This building hosts an array of art exhibitions, films, theatrical performances, and other programs. To see what's available check out the website below.

Mairo21's Profile Photo
Apr 04, 2011

Top 10-Cultural Center

This should be the first place visitors to Chicago stop, in addition to being one of the coolest buildings in town, it's also one of the city's official visitor centers and home to hundreds of of FREE cultural performances- lectures, art exhibits, films, music, theater, and films. The website below has a listing of all of the offerings.

The free el tour is on hiatus for the 2009-2010 season, I suspect another casualty of the current economic woes, but you can still pick up an Instagreeter for an impromtu tour of the downtown loop area Friday-Sunday.

This wonderful building was completed in 1897 and served as Chicago's main library. Thanks to the efforts of Eleanor "Sis" Daley (current mayor's mother, wife of Richard J. Daley, mayor from 1955-1976), the building was preserved and in 1991 it was converted into the Cultural Center when the Chicago Public Library moved to it's new home, the Harold Washington Library on State Street.

Even if you are just checking out the visitors center, be sure to have a look around the interior, especially on the second floor where there are two gorgeous glass domes, one by Tiffany and the other by Healy & Millet. I always take people to the Randolph side first to see the dome in the Grand Army of the Republic rotunda and then show them the more impressive Tiffany dome on the Washington Street side, always save the best for last. There is also a photography exhibit on the lower level, usually of Chicago architecture.

If it's cold or rainy and you are heading back to Macy's on State or other points west, you can take the elevator on the Randolph St. side down to the pedway.

Dabs's Profile Photo
Apr 04, 2011
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"The place I call home"
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"Captivating City of "The Big Shoulders": Chicago"
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"Never A Lovely So Real"
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"Chicago - My Favorite City in the United States!"
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Free City Tours (

I'll be at the meeting! Just want to add that one of my volunteer gigs is that of a Chicago Greeter. The Greeter thing is global now and is fantastic--you can get a free tour of any area of the city that you choose and the city even provides a bus pass to get there. I do Old Town, Chinatown, Beverly, South Loop and all the downtown stuff. Go to to see more.

This isn't an advertisement because it's all free. Just wanted you to know that it's available. I had a Paris Greeter last November--same concept and I really enjoyed it.

Sharonov's Profile Photo
Feb 07, 2011

Chicago Cultural Center

This is the view that first greeted me as I came upon the Chicago Cultural Center, at about the half-way point of my Sunday morning walk as I made my way south and toward Millenium Park on the Lake Michigan shore. Its 1897 Classical Revival style exterior was quite a change from the mostly 1920s buildings I had been paying attention to up till then! It actually started out as the Chicago Public Library at a colossal cost of $2 million dollars but its three-foot thick masonry walls faced with Bedford limestone have withstood the tests of time very well. Following renovations in 1977, it was for a short time known as the Chicago Public Library Cultural Center. Its final transition was made in 1991 when the building was reborn again as the Chicago Cultural Center after the Library portion relocated to the new state-of-the-art Harold Washington Library Center.

Following my lunchtime meal with Deecat and Dabs, they took me on a quick but interesting tour inside the building where I was able to appreciate its very ornate interior first-hand (photos 2, 3 and 4) as well as some exquisite music as a live concert was in-progress in one of its halls. The interior is extensively decorated with mosaics, marbles, bronze, and two stained-glass domes designed by the Tiffany Glass and Decorating Company, but one of the domes was blocked from view due to restoration.

Bwana_Brown's Profile Photo
Nov 07, 2010

Experience it !

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.

JOEFRY's Profile Photo
Oct 30, 2007

Visitor Information Center

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

mam3206's Profile Photo
Jul 28, 2007

Things to Do Near Chicago

Things to Do


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National Vietnam Veterans Art Museum

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Adler Planetarium

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Soldier Field

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Buddy Guy's Legends

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Getting to Chicago


78 E. Washington


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