Every city has its own unique feel and vibe, which is determined by a number of things. The local historic sites are no doubt one of the largest contributing factors to the aura that surrounds a city. When in Chicago, users recommend paying a visit to Wrigley Field, in the Wrigleyville area to get a feel for what truly makes up the city.
The Glessner House was built in 1887 and is the home of Henry Hobson Richardson Glessner, an architect whose work inspired Frank Lloyd Wright. The house has been painstakingly restored and preserved and includes an outstanding collection of 19th and 20th century furniture and decorative art. This home holds a vast assortment of pieces from the Aesthetic and English Arts and Crafts movements. The collection includes ceramic vases and tiles, silver, engravings, and Art Nouveau glass. (312-326-1480)
Union Station's Great Hall has been photographed time and again by people seeking to capture the essence of America's past and the architectural beauty of a bygone era. In its heyday, the station hosted approximately 300 trains and 10,000 passengers each day. Today, long wooden benches still stand against a muted backdrop of pink Tennessee marble, Corinthian columns, and bronze accents. Few places say "Chicago" more than Union Station. A historic American landmark. (312-655-2481)
The Wrigley Building is one of the city's (and the nation's) most notable corporate landmarks. Comprised of two towers connected by an open walkway, the building takes inspiration for its shape from the Seville Cathedral's Giralda Tower in Spain, and its design is an Americanized version of French Renaissance style. Prominent features include 250,000 individual glazed terra cotta tiles, a large exterior clock, and lovely interior brass accents. (312-923-8080)
Chicago Water Tower
The Chicago Water Tower is a landmark structure built in 1869 that survived the great fire of 1871. The limestone building looks more like a palace or a folly than a water tower and features well-executed stonework and several smaller towers in addition to its centerpiece. The main tower rises 154 feet high and now stands somewhat small against the area's skyscrapers. Although the tower no longer functions, it was chosen by the American Water Works Association as the first American Water Landmark in the US.
One of the best examples of Frank Lloyd Wright's Prairie-style architecture, Robie House boasts characteristic horizontal lines, stained-glass windows, and balconies. Wright designed the rooms to be energy efficient by keeping out direct sunlight and allowing enough light in to keep rooms from growing too dark. The concept was ingenious for 1910, and it's still impressive today. The interior is quite modern in feel, and the entire structure is an integrated, beautiful whole. (773-834-1847, 708-848-1976)
This cozy stadium's friendly atmosphere asserts strong appeal for Chicago Cubs fans. First opened in 1914, the facility boasts ivy-covered brick walls in the outfield and a manual scoreboard that helps promote a good-old-days ambience. The place is such a local legend that any visit to Chicago must include a day at "the old ball game." And just to avoid potential heartache: any home run ball hit by the other team must be thrown back onto the field. Tours, on days they're scheduled, are offered from 9:30am till 4:30pm. (773-404-2827)
Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio
Renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright began building this house in 1889. As his style developed, so did the home, and Wright continued to make unique additions to it to suit his personal needs. Today, guided tours showcase his studio and its chain-hung balcony, along with a playroom designed for his children that offers treetop views. The architect's signature style and taste are clearly evident throughout the intricately designed home. Tours depart from Ginkgo Tree Bookshop and run from 45 minutes to an hour in length. (708-848-1976)
Cemetery hours don't allow guests to verify whether a green-eyed ghoul really howls at the moon. The story of the statue of six-year old Inez Clark disappearing during storms also remains a legend, but a walk through the historical 1860 graveyard during the day is still a worthwhile experience. Inexpensive maps and guides are offered to help visitors identify famous gravesites including the father of skyscrapers and modern masters. The resting place is also home to many of the city's most popular public figures, baseball and boxing greats, merchants and inventors. The grounds were designed in 1861 by prominent landscape architect H.W.S. Cleveland with the intent to create a park-like ambiance. Another landscape architect, Ossian Simonds, added to the plan by using native plants to create the cemetery's pastoral landscape, making the "Cemetery of Architects" one of the most beautiful places in Chicago to visit. (773-525-1105)
Pullman Historic District
Conceived of by George M. Pullman (of Pullman car fame) as a model neighborhood for his factory workers, this late 19th-century town originally featured residences, a school, a hotel, a bank, a church, and ahead-of-their-time conveniences like indoor plumbing. Having survived threats of redevelopment over the last century, the historic district now offers guided tours through the remaining public structures. The magnificent Hotel Florence and the Clock Tower are not to be missed. (773-785-8901, 773-785-8181)
Jane Addams Hull-House Museum
A quest for social reform and belief in equal opportunities for all community members were driving forces behind Jane Addams' establishment in 1889 of a settlement house in one of Chicago's immigrant neighborhoods. Now owned by the surrounding university, the restored structure houses a museum that honors Addams, her work in Chicago, and her influence on civil rights and women's suffrage. Documents, furniture, and plenty of photographs tell the story of this remarkable woman. (312-413-5353)