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The Best Thing About Chicago Is…

The USA experienced its largest building boom ever in the late 19th century, right here in Chicago, following the Great Chicago Fire. In 1885, the first steel-framed high-rise building, the Home Insurance Building, rose in the city as Chicago ushered in the skyscraper era. The city's skyline is now one of the world's tallest and most dense.

The USA experienced its largest building boom ever in the late 19th century, right here in Chicago, following the Great Chicago Fire. In 1885, the first steel-framed high-rise building, the Home Insurance Building, rose in the city as Chicago ushered in the skyscraper era. The city’s skyline is now one of the world’s tallest and most dense.

Chewing The Fat In The Windy City | Sharon Henry

They say ‘look up’, as opposed to being fixated to a tiny phone screen. Meaning don’t miss the world around you through trivial distractions, look up. However, in Chicago, all you can do is look up, the sky scrapers are fascinating and each one seems in competition with the other. Chicago is a fun, pedestrian-friendly city, perfectly suited for exploring by foot and playing tourist. Besides the ‘wow’ architecture, there are waterways coursing like azure veins through the city and of course, there is the shiny ‘Bean’ in Millennium Park.

We weren’t the only tourists impressed with Chicago. Here are reactions from a few people we got chatting to in Illinois’ Windy City.

The Grateful Dead

Danny & Marty from New York here for the Grateful Dead’s last concert.

At Chicago's 'Bean' (Cloud Gate sculpture) we met Danny & Marty, visiting from New York city.

At Chicago’s ‘Bean’ (Cloud Gate sculpture) we met Danny & Marty, visiting from New York city.

Marty’s hoarse voice is a dead giveaway they enjoyed the show. “It was awesome,” Marty tells us, who says she inherited her fan status from her parents.

“Chicago is a lot of fun”, says Danny. “It goes pretty late here and we’ve been enjoying it. We ended up at the ‘Smart Bar’ club after the Dead show. That was a lot of fun, we didn’t realise it was ‘Queen’ night, so it was an interesting vibe in there!”

“Comparing Chicago to New York, who wins? I’m a little biased,” he smiles, “but New York is the greatest city in the world!”

“But we can’t wait to come back and visit,” pipes in Marty, “it’s super cool here.”

Supporting The Chicago Cubs

Dave Strousborger visiting from California, sporting his Chicago Bears jersey.

Chicago Cubs supporter, Dave, was in town to see the Chicago Bean and the city's architecture.

Chicago Cubs supporter, Dave, was in town to see the Chicago Bean and the city’s architecture.

“I’m from the Midwest originally and we have family out here. We’re in town today to look at the Bean, the architecture. We took the water taxi across the waterways. We’ll probably go up the observation deck of the Sears Tower, things like that.

“In general the Midwest and architecture of Chicago is indigenous to this area. It’s fun to go through the town to look at each building, the time it was built and the buildings around it and think of it as a city that was growing. The waterways, the trade systems that where happening back at the turn of the century. As each building went up, what was the story of what the people were doing during those times, that is kind of fun for me.”

A Chicago water taxi passing under one of the many movable bridges in the Loop District of downtown Chicago.

A Chicago water taxi passing under one of the many movable bridges in the Loop District of downtown Chicago.

We comment on the jersey, “I’m a die-hard Chicago Bears football fan but we have been doing awful so we’ll see what happens next year,” he shrugs. “They say in the military, sometimes you salute the rank and not the man and that’s kind of how I felt about the Bears last year! Hopefully they’ll do better this year.”

Chicago Is A Walking City

Rosie & Craig, sitting on a bench in Millennium Park, visiting from St Louis, Missouri.

Rosie and Craig from St Louis where we had just come from. Like us, they like Chicago's walkability.

Rosie and Craig from St Louis where we had just come from. Like us, they like Chicago’s walkability.

“We’re just vacationing, sightseeing,” says Rosie. “This is the first place we’ve come to, Millennium Park but we’ve got lots of museums and stuff on the agenda for the next couple of days. I love Chicago, I’ve been here a million times in my life! My mum was born here so I’m comfortable in this city.

“I love all the museums, we’re headed over to Shedd Aquarium, it’s a really cool thing to see, I definitely recommend it.

We found Chicago to be very pedestrian friendly, but it's not just us - a 2011 study by Walk Score ranked Chicago the fourth most walkable of fifty largest cities in the United States.

We found Chicago to be very pedestrian friendly, but it’s not just us – a 2011 study by Walk Score ranked Chicago the fourth most walkable of fifty largest cities in the United States.

“How does Chicago compare to St Louis? It’s so different, St Louis isn’t a walking city, you drive everywhere, there are lots of good sights but I’m too used to it. Getting out is always nice for a change of pace.

“Yes I’ve travelled outside the US. I’ve been to Canada, Italy and Germany. My dad was born in Italy so we have family over there and have been a few times. Australia is on my bucket list.”

“Fighting for a fair contract”

Ed, Engineer at Fox News. Protesting with nine others outside Fox 32, Michigan Plaza.

Protesting for a fair contract from Fox. Ed leads the line (left), which includes their rat mascot.

Protesting for a fair contract from Fox. Ed leads the line (left), which includes their rat mascot.

“We’re doing an informational picket for the union that represent the engineers and employees of the Fox owned station here in Chicago the VFLD-TV. We’ve been out of contract for four years and we’re trying to bring attention to our cause here.

“Our mascot is dressed as a rat, that’s sort of been our national symbol here in the United States for companies that don’t treat their employees fairly, the rat symbolises that.

“Our main objective is to get a contract and save jobs. Job protection is what we’re looking for.”

The Chicago metropolitan area is the third-largest media market in North America, after New York City and Los Angeles. Each of the big four U.S. television networks, CBS, ABC, NBC and Fox, directly owns and operates a high-definition television station in Chicago. (source: wikipedia)

The Chicago metropolitan area is the third-largest media market in North America, after New York City and Los Angeles. Each of the big four U.S. television networks, CBS, ABC, NBC and Fox, directly owns and operates a high-definition television station in Chicago. (source: wikipedia)

Don Villar, President of Local 41 the broadcast union in Chicago.

Don Villar, president of the local 41 broadcast union in Chicago, joins the protestors outside Fox32.

Don Villar, (wearing suit) president of the local 41 broadcast union in Chicago, joins the protestors outside Fox32.

“We are here because we are fighting for a fair contract against Fox News, Fox 32 in Chicago, Rupert Murdoch one of the wealthiest men in the world. We want fairness, our people have been fighting for a long time for a fair contract and they deserve better.

“Our members have been without a contract for five years, they have not had a raise in that time. So we are sick and tired and we want a fair contract. This is our first action, this is actually a solidarity action, they are doing something similarly at Fox’s operations in Las Vegas and LA. We are doing this in conjunction with them. So this is a local element of a national protest.”

No One Thing Makes You Homeless

Andre, homeless guy blowing bubbles over the waterways from a bridge. Prays to God every day.

Homeless in Chicago - Andre finds this simple technique to lifting people's spirits is a great way to earn money.

Homeless in Chicago – Andre finds this simple technique to lifting people’s spirits is a great way to earn money.

“Yeah I do this every day. I do this for everybody, everybody likes bubbles. I’m homeless, I don’t beg you know it’s like I’m doing something for them. So they happy and they help me out. Yeah, people come talk to me, they say, ‘I love your bubbles.’ People on the boats that go past wave at me, they all know me and they tell other people about me. I’ve been doing this for about six months.

The Du Sable Bridge over the Chicago River, named after the first non-indigenous permanent settler (1780s) in Chicago, Jean Baptiste Point du Sable, affectionately known as "Founder of Chicago."

The Du Sable Bridge over the Chicago River, named after the first non-indigenous permanent settler (1780s) in Chicago, Jean Baptiste Point du Sable, affectionately known as “Founder of Chicago.”

This is the moment we first spotted Andre, up above us on a bridge blowing down bubbles while we walked the banks of the Chicago River. Andre is homeless.

This is the moment we first spotted Andre, up above us on a bridge blowing down bubbles while we walked the banks of the Chicago River. Andre is homeless.

“What am I going to do in winter? I hope by that time I’ll have me a crib, an apartment somewhere. I’ve been homeless for two years.

“To become homeless is never no one thing. It’s a combination of a number of things that also has a domino effect. Yeah, not no one thing got me homeless.”

Siberian Husky in Chicago

Mitzi out walking her dog ‘Stat’ at Navy Pier and attracting a lot of attention from passers-by.

Nurse Mitzi with her Siberian Husky on Navy Pier in Chicago. Mitzi recommends Navy Pier as the place for visitors to see in the city.

Nurse Mitzi with her Siberian Husky on Navy Pier in Chicago. Mitzi recommends Navy Pier as the place for visitors to see in the city.

“I’ve lived in Chicago for a few years now, I’m a registered nurse and will be getting my doctorate degree in a year.

“Yeah the dog gets a lot of attention, not me! He’s a Siberian Husky, he’s turning five this December. He is kind of the middle of being active and lazy at the same time. Stat is a hospital term for ‘now’ meaning like right away. So that’s his name. I got him at eight weeks old which doesn’t seem that long ago and now he’s turning five.

The Navy Pier, Chicago, was built in 1916 at a reported cost of $4.5 million, primarily to serve as a cargo facility for freighters on Lake Michigan. Today it lays claim to being Chicago's number one tourist attraction.

The Navy Pier, Chicago, was built in 1916 at a reported cost of $4.5 million, primarily to serve as a cargo facility for freighters on Lake Michigan. Today it lays claim to being Chicago’s number one tourist attraction.

“We regularly walk here or stay by the beach. He always gets attention. He gets away with being cute and licking everybody’s faces.

“The best thing about Chicago is the people. Some would say the food, the hot dogs, the pizza but it’s the people. It’s the culture that is here in Chicago. Navy Pier is my recommendation for visitors. It would probably be the fisherman’s wharf of San Francisco. But at Navy Pier you get to see both the lake and the city skyline, it’s very nice.”

Chicago Meets St Helena

Kate and Don watching an open-air movie at Millennium Park. Originally from Chicago but moved 15 months ago to Florida.

Kate and Don at the open air movie in the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park, Chicago.

Kate and Don at the open air movie in the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park, Chicago.

“We loved the experience, love the movie,” says Kate. When we were kids we used to go to the drive-in movies, they don’t really have them anymore. This is wonderful. We’re back visiting family and doing all the things we used to do when we were younger and taking advantage of everything!”

“We got carry-out Chinese,” Don adds, “sat here, had a bottle of wine, how can you beat it? Actually, now I’ve met someone from St Helena, my evening’s complete!”

Don and Kate at the open air movie in the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park. This is part of Chicago's larger Grant Park complex.

Don and Kate at the open air movie in the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park. This is part of Chicago’s larger Grant Park complex.

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