Chicago goes by many names, each with their own historical significance that is easily lost in modern times. “The Second City” derives from the time after the Great Fire of 1871 when the entire city was rebuilt into what is now Chicago’s second city. The familiar name of “The Windy City” ironically is not named because of the incredible winds that drop the already freezing temperatures of the city to unbearable, but for the “windbag” politicians of the past. Another name, “The White City,” is reminiscent of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, one of the largest fairs in history and where Chicago erected thousands of white tents forming a white city. The book, The Devil in the White City, highlights the very same monumental time of the world fair.
Whitney and I flew into Chicago on Friday night. Her roommate from college, Jace, picked us up from the airport and we headed straight to Boyz Town, the gay neighborhood of Chicago. After a few drinks we called it a night, eager for the next day’s adventures.
On Saturday, we drove along Sheridan Road into the city. Sheridan Road is home to some of the wealthiest homes in America. The neighborhoods surrounding this famous street house many politicians, lawyers, physicians, and businessmen. The well known “Home Alone” house is located in this neighborhood, as well as the home in the Ferris Bueller movie and many scenes from Mean Girls. We stopped for a moment to admire Lake Michigan as well as the Baha’i Temple, then continued on our way to the city.
We walked along Michigan Avenue, home to high end shops like Burberry, Neiman Marcus, and Tiffany and Co, on our way to the bean. The bean, also known as Cloud Gate, is located in Millennium Park. The serene patch of green lies amid skyscrapers and museums, decked with shops and an ice skating rink.
Lucky for us, Christkindlmarket was open just a few blocks away. We munched on roasted pecans, gingerbread and popcorn while strolling through stalls selling German christmas goods like handmade wooden ornaments, cuckoo clocks, and figurines. The spiced mulled wine warmed our bellies as we admired the beautiful goods.
On Saturday afternoon, we headed back to the riverfront for our architecture tour. We chose the Wendella Boats River Cruise, the original river cruise tour company. Due to our winter arrival in Chi town, we basically had the river to ourselves. As we glided past architectural wonders like the corncob towers, Willis Tower, and Aqua Tower, we learned about the building process and which architectural gurus designed which skyscraper.
We finished the river cruise just in time to make it to The Second City comedy show. The Second City is where many comedians like Tina Fey, Bill Murray, and Amy Poehler made their debuts.
On Sunday, we visited the The Art Institute of Chicago where the countless pieces of art overwhelmed us by the second floor. We navigated through what felt like hundreds of rooms to find the highlighted pieces, such as Grant Wood’s American Gothic, Picasso’s The Old Guitarist, and Rodin’s Eternal Springtime.
Afterwards, we had drinks and lunch at the Signature Room, on the 96th floor of the John Hancock building. The blackberry collins were to die for, and the 360 degree views of the city below were incredible.
Chicago was our last weekend getaway before starting another round of difficult rotations at the hospital. It was crazy hectic and a whirlwind, but we wouldn’t have it any other way.