WALTZING DOWN THE WINDY CITY
With skyscrapers that tell a story and parks that spread over acres, Chicago is a perfect mix of nature and city life
During our 16-hour journey, on a dog-eared page of a novel, we discovered an interesting historical fact about Chicago, USA. In 1871, in a farm, south of Chicago, a cow kicked a lantern, which ignited some hay, which further lit some lumber, and caused the entire city to light up in flames. Centuries later, as we drove out of O’Hare International Airport, our eyes weren’t prepared for the towering skyscrapers that stretched as far as we could see. Immediately, the image of city of Manhattan popped up in our minds. The Windy City is a less-crowded and cleaner version of it. Although it is packed with buildings, it is spacious and well-planned. Chicago also has parks that sprawl over acres of lands, and a hint of greenery every few miles. Here’s how you can make the most of the city in a short span of time.
SKY IS THE LIMIT
Chicago is renowned for its bold architecture. It comes as no surprise that most of the tourist attractions overlook the beautiful skyline brimming with skyscrapers. The Willis Tower — Chicago’s tallest building, situated in the Loop (business) district, is one such spot. The ear-popping, 60-second elevator ride to the Skydeck transports you to the heavens. You can get a spectacular view, spanning four different states, or step on to the Ledge — a glass box jutting out in mid-air. Be prepared to feel a tad lightheaded; the ledge that peers 103-floors down the Wacker Drive is not meant for the faint-hearted. For a similar ‘high’, you can enjoy drinks on the 96th floor at the buzzy Signature Lounge, located in the iconic John Hancock Centre on Michigan Avenue.
They say the best way to discover a city is by foot. We’d say the best way to discover Chi-town is by the boat tour that cuts through downtown, weaving past dozens of skyscrapers. Our tour guide pointed out to the Trump International Hotel and Tower, and said, “The 98 storey building was designed by architect Adrian Smith. The tallest structure in the world, The Burj Khalifa, in Dubai, was also built by the same firm.” As we drifted downstream, she pointed out to the only building that had an unobstructed view of the lake — Lake Point Tower. It is believed that American philanthropist-TV host Oprah Winfrey is a resident of this building. “It was built years ago due to a loophole in the system. No other skyscraper was allowed to be built as close to Lake Michigan ever after,” she explained.
LOSE TRACK OF TIME
Make sure you keep your camera handy on your visit to the Millennium Park in the Loop district. The Bean or the Cloud Gate that draws a large crowd every day is situated in this park. British artist of Indian origin Anish Kapoor’s massive, mirrored-surface sculpture, The Bean, reflects the city’s skyline and the mesmerised onlookers. Grant Park, which boasts a large fountain, known as the Buckingham Fountain, is a five-minute walk from Millennium Park.
Chicago — a land of skyscrapers