The Chicago Loop, the Windy City’s central business district, has a lot more to offer than the well-known Chicago River and Willis (formerly Sears) Tower. Home of Chicago’s City Hall and the seat of Cook County, Ill., the city’s downtown area was dubbed “The Loop” after the Union elevated railway loop encompassing the area was built in the late 1890s.
Crown Fountain in Millennium Park
WHERE: 201 E Randolph St., Chicago, IL 60602
The Crown Fountain in Millennium Park was designed by Spanish artist Jaume Plensa, and to many stands out from the city’s world-renowned public art collection.
The display includes two 50-foot glass block towers at both ends of a shallow reflecting pool, showcasing Chicago residents spraying water out of their mouths.
Plensa’s tribute to Chicagoans, the collection of faces was taken from a pool of 1,000 residents.But while the images can be viewed any time of the year, the fountain only sprays water during mid-spring and mid-fall.
WHERE: 875 Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60611
Located inside the John Hancock Building 1,000 feet above Chicago’s famous Magnificent Mile, the 360 CHICAGO observation deck showcases Lake Michigan and all angles of the city skyline.
The observation deck also offers TILT, Chicago’s highest thrill ride, which features an enclosed moving platform that tilts you over Michigan Avenue from the building’s 94th floor.
But if you’re afraid of heights, you can still enjoy one of the best views of Chicago at the bar and cafe.
Chicago’s Freight Tunnels
WHERE: Kinzie Street and N Canal Street, Chicago, IL 60654
The construction of Chicago’s network of subterranean tunnels began in 1899, when the Illinois Telephone and Telegraph Company ordered large amounts of blue clay soil to be excavated by hand, and moved to low-lying areas along Lake Michigan.
From 1904 to 1959, the tunnels allowed coal to be transported to dozens of buildings with basements connected to the network. Decades later, “The Great Chicago Flood” of 1992 caused about $2 billion in damage to the tunnels and the buildings connected to them. The tunnels have since been sealed, and are nearly impossible to enter.
WHERE: Printer’s Row, Chicago, IL 60605
Named after its humble beginnings as the center of Chicago’s printing and publishing industry, Printer’s Row still showcases buildings with their original publishing house names — and some still have original signage from the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Today, the neighborhood is also connected to its history by means of an annual book fair in June, known as the Printer’s Row Festival. The festival draws readers and booksellers, as well as poets and authors who might speak at the event. But don’t worry, music lovers, there are plenty of albums to browse there, too.
WHERE: 300 N State St., Chicago, IL 60654
When architect Bertrand Goldberg first envisioned Marina City’s two “corncob towers,” the Chicago Loop was not necessarily the trendiest place to live. Goldberg wanted to conduct an urban experiment to entice middle-class Chicagoans to return to the city after more than 10 years of migration to the suburbs. After conceptualizing a city within a city, he hoped that those middle-class Chicagoans would appreciate living close to work and places to engage in leisure activities. Upon completion in 1967, Marina City featured two residential towers, an office building, a theater, lots of retail space and car and boat parking.