Chicago, United States
Chicago Travel : Vacations and Travel Info
Frank Sinatra used to sing "Chicago, my kind of town" in a song that was very popular during the 60's. This is an eclectic city full of culture, entertainment, attractions, international events, and much, much more. Chicago (the "Windy City") is a place for all people and for all budgets. Here you can really feel and live the four seasons, each one offers a wide variety and special attractions to enjoy. Whether winter or summer, you can always have a great time in Chicago.
The mixture of modern streets and architecture, sandy beaches, cool waters of the lakes and rivers, as well as the traditional and well-established multicultural neighborhoods scattered around the city, make Chicago the third most populated metropolis in the United States, a city that anyone can fall in love with.
Neighborhoods of Chicago
The city of Chicago is located in the northwest of the United States in the state of Illinois, in the region known as the Great Lakes, in the southern part of Lake Michigan. Although the area has rough climate in winter, Chicago can be visited all year round due to its modern infrastructure and plenty of attractions for the entire family.
Spring and summer are the most interesting periods to enjoy this city, which is filled with activities. From April through August, when the climate still allows for leisurely walks without wearing layers of clothes, find an amazing array of recreational things to do. Fall and winter, the coldest seasons of the year, do not stop the great metropolis of Chicago, which offers as many attractions as in the hotter months.
The city of Chicago has a population of approximately 3 million people that adds up to a good 10 million, including the population from the metropolitan area. Thousands of people come from other parts of the world, making Chicago a multicultural city with 26 ethnic groups and where 132 languages are spoken besides English.
Some of the neighborhoods that you should visit for their peculiar characteristics, and that are a few miles away from downtown Chicago, are: Greektown, a few streets of Greek flavor next to The Loop; Little Village or La Villita, a colorful neighborhood where thousands of Mexicans have found their second home away from Mexico; Chinatown is a nice community just five minutes from downtown, with dozens of traditional restaurants and stores from China; Gold Coast is located north of The Loop and is one of the most elegant, exclusive areas of the city that includes the Magnificent Mile, the most fashionable and expensive shopping area in Chicago. Bucktown and Wicker Park are two modern neighborhoods full of young people, where unique stores, bars, and restaurants are the main attraction. Hyde Park is another neighborhood that has to be visited since it is the home of the prestigious University of Chicago, a cultural and intellectual community.
Downtown Chicago is known as The Loop, a modern area in the heart of the city that includes the most important commercial and financial districts in Chicago, surrounded by the rails of the elevated train. The train rails circuit goes from Lake Street in the north to Van Buren Street in the south, Wells Street in the west, and Wabash Street in the East.
Inside this circuit, you will find the most beautiful architecture in the entire city, and contrary to the downtowns in other cities in the United States, The Loop is alive even at nights and on weekends. It has magnificent skyscrapers, some of them among the tallest in the world, such as the Sears Tower and the John Hancock Center. Located three streets west of Lake Michigan, The Loop is a special place that must be explored because of its ample variety of restaurants, bars, art galleries, exclusive stores, famous large sculptures such as the one made by Picasso, and the well known Theatre District, home of the famous Chicago Theatre.
In 1837, Chicago became a city and it was then that the Midwest of the United States saw the birth of a place that later will become a power in the livestock, wood, and wheat industry. The city mainly evolved due to the development of the train and the construction of the Illinois-Michigan canal in 1848, which connected the Great Lakes with the Mississippi River. As a result, thousands of people arrived looking for a place to live and work. In 1871, one of the worst tragedies of the city and the country occurred: the Great Chicago Fire. This was a tragic event where approximately 3.7 square miles of downtown Chicago were totally destroyed and hundreds of people died. The fire began in a farm located two miles southwest of downtown, where a cow supposedly kicked over a lantern, starting the fire.
Decades after the Great Chicago Fire, thousands of immigrants arrived to the city to work in factories and meat packing industries. Twenty two years later, Chicago was fully established and better than ever, and celebrating the World's Columbian Exposition, a fair covering 600 acres with 19 countries participating. The fair was visited by 27 million of people, an unprecedented event with an intense influence in today's architecture and the arts of the "Windy City." Nowadays, Chicago is the third most populated city in the United States.
This is a dynamic, cosmopolitan place with millions of people from different races and where, aside from the English language, more than a hundred languages are spoken.
Chicago is visited annually by 25 million people due to its importance as an international business center and a world cultural, sports, and seminar venue. It has hundreds of restaurants and bars, dozens of shopping centers, and many natural and artificial attractions. It is one of the few cities on the planet that has two international airports, facilitating the access to Chicago from any country.
The Al Capone Era
One of the most famous gangsters of all time (if not the most famous) was Alphonse Gabriel Capone, better known as Al Capone. This infamous figure was responsible for the collapse of law and order during the 1920's Prohibition era in the United States in the Chicago area. During Prohibition, illegal liquor sale was the most profitable business. All mob gangs were greedy and did not respect the "liquor zone area" previously established by each group of mobsters. As a result, a series of massacres and wars among gangs took place, a situation that as of today, Chicago still remembers. One famous massacre was the St Valentine's Day Massacre: Al Capone's men murdered members of the George Moran's gang, giving all the power over Chicago to Al Capone.
At the end of the 20's, Al Capone was on the FBI's "most wanted list". In the 30's, he was finally arrested and sent to prison in the city of Atlanta, Georgia for tax evasion. Afterwards, he was transferred to Alcatraz Island. He died in 1947 in the city of Miami, Florida of a cardio-respiratory failure.
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