Sweet Home Chicago

America has a lot of famous cities. Chicago is the most liveable of those. It seems like a place where people go to work, have kids and visit the museums on the weekends. It is also a pleasantly working class city.

I really enjoyed Chicago, there was heaps to do and there is a real sense of history. The buildings are awesome and just driving through the city is fun.

There is something for everyone in Chicago – sports fans, history buffs, kids, adventure seekers. It is well worth a visit for a week or so.

I would rate it 8.7 out of 10.

IL CUBs

IL edge

IL EXPO

IL protest

IL Sue

It’s dark and we’re wearing sunglasses

I understand now that the Blues Brothers is such a Chicago movie. Chicago is a city that may be a little rough around the edges, but has a heart of gold. It is a very musical city – I think I heard “sweet home Chicago” about 50 times.

Also the place we stayed in was right next to the L train so it reminded me of that scene in blues brothers where everything is shaken of the walls.

My total score for Illinois out of 50 is 36.

Categories out of 10

Home comforts Quality of food, accommodation, etc. Score of 7. Tried a deep dish pizza and had some hipster food. On the whole, very good. The B&B was a bit weird and had paper thin walls, but was in a good location and the staff were very nice.

Attractions The quality of the attractions and generally how fun and interesting they were. Score of 8. Lots and lots to do in Chicago; sports, museums, history (route 66 starts here).

Natural Beauty The aesthetic vistas of the state which make the drive easier. Score of 7. Roads are okay, but I wouldn’t say pretty. The suburban areas of Chicago are expansive and nice to look at.

Culture Historical and cultural sites and interactions with the locals. Score of 8. Politics, crime, social history – lots to hear about and different from a lot of the rest if the country.

Value Financial value – bang for your buck, so to speak. Score of 6. By as pricey as you would think, but not cheap either.

Day 51 – extras

We visited the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry. The museum is huge and is spread over several levels. There are many excellent
Exhibitions.

Science storms, for example, looks at the science behind natural phenomena such as tornadoes, tsunamis and light. There are lots of interactives and large displays.

The Whispering Gallery which allows people to stand at either end of the room and sound is transmitted effectively across the room.

There is also a fairy castle which is a fantastic miniature castle with fairy tale themed rooms.

There are also a number of exhibits which require additional cost. These include the coal mine tour, submarine tour, toymaker and networld. These exhibits are very well presented and the tours are delivered very well, however it does get a bit tiresome to have to constantly be pulling money out of our pockets to do anything.

We also visited the Adler Planetarium, which is Americas oldest planetarium. The planetarium has several exhibits which display a range of space related items. There is also a range of theatres showing different programs, some for younger audiences and some for adults.

The exhibits are a bit convulated. They are spread over several levels and don’t seem to be the,ed very well.

We selected Welcome to the Universe for our show, which is located in the
Grainger Sky Theater, the largest and most technologically advanced theatre. We had to pay extra but figured it was worth it.

The show is a good display of the theatres technological features and shows a range of astronomical features, such as planets, stars and galaxies.

However, I was very confused when I walked in. The projector, sound system and computers is clearly a multi-million set-up. The chairs and viewer facilities, however seem to have cost about a buck fifty. The seats do not recline and are very uncomfortable. I am not sure why the planetarium would make this choice. It devalues the whole experience. I hope that these seats are temporary and that the planetarium will be better fitted out in future phases.

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Day 50 – Chi-town

Chicago has lots of names, and lots of identities, as shown in this poem written by Carl Sandburg

“Hog butcher for the world,
Tool maker, stacker of wheat,
Player with railroads and the nation’s freight handler;
Stormy, husky, brawling,
City of the big shoulders.”

Chicago has lots of identities and so has done a lot of stuff. Today we visited the Chicago History Museum to learn more about it.

This museum is excellent. It is really well presented. It provides a great overview of everything that Chicago has achieved or moments of shame. The museum does a great job of providing enough information to understand what happened and why it was important, but not so much tha it becomes overwhelming and dull.

The museum has a temporary photography exhibition called Vivian Maier’s Chicago. Normally, I find photography exhibitions to be a bit pretentious, but this amateur photographer shows an amazing insight into the true nature if the people she photographed.

The museum also has a very good exhibition called Chicago: Crossroads of America which provides insight into key events in Chicago history and other important parts of Chicago’s history, such as music, architecture, and sports.

After visiting the museum we walked upstairs to the research centre. This are of the museum cost $5 per day or $15 annually and it is an amazing service. The service allows access to a wide range of historical resources. We went them to research the 1893 Columbian Exposition which is one of the coolest periods in history. The research centre allows you to photograph many of the books and they have an amazing collection. We were able to see several tourist guides from 1893 and learnt a great deal about the exposition. The research staff at the centre are awesome and provide friendly, expert service.

Then we visited the sky deck which is on the 103rd floor or what used to be called the sears tower. The sky deck provides excellent views of Chicago and Lake Michigan. The views are certainly expansive and impressive. They also have the ledge which is an area of what appears to be glass which hangs over the edge of the building. It is a weird fight between instincts and intellect as you know that the ledge is very safe, but you can’t help but pause befor stepping onto it.

We finished the night at Navy Pier which is one of the biggest tourist attractions in the mid west. Navy pier has shops, restaurants and attractions on the pier on Lake Michigan. Navy Pier is very historic and was popular since 1927, but fell out of favour before being revitalised and reopened in 1995. We rode the Ferris Wheel, which was installed in honour of the one at the 1893 Fair. The pier is a fun tourist attraction, with lots of souvenir shops and is def Italy worth visiting.

I also had a deep dish pizza to finish up the Chicago day!

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Day 49 – A dinosaur named Sue

Sue the dinosaur was discovered by Sue Hendrickson in 1990. Sue the dinosaur is up the most complete dinosaur ever discovered. She lives at the Chicago Field museum, where we visited today. Sue looks very impressive and sits at the end of the main hall. The quality of the skeleton and presentation are all fantastic.

The Field museum is a natural history museum. There are permanent exhibitions on Ancient Egypt, fossils and dinosaurs, ancient America and gems. . These exhibitions, particularly the dinosaur exhibit are of very high quality. The museum does an excellent job of balancing education and entertainment to provide a very interesting experience.

For me, the highlight was the travelling exhibition, Creatures if the Night, natures bioluminescence. The exhibition focuses on creates which emit light, such as fireflies and to deep sea fishes. The exhibition has a great vibe, with twilight lighting and a good mix of interactive features, living examples and scientific information.

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Day 48 – To Rally

1. A gathering, especially one intended to inspire enthusiasm for a cause.

The 8 hour day is one of the earliest and most important wins for workers unions around the world. Melbourne, Australia is one of the first places in the world to have really successfully implemented this concept for the bulk of workers, in Melbourne which occurred in 1860 in Melbourne even has a monument to this success outside of trades hall and we have a public holiday to celebrate.

In no way do I dismiss the hard work of the Australian unionists in achieving this outcome, as they implemented well planned strikes and protests in order to achieve the practical and legislative change, however it was not violent and achieved the outcomes.

The American labour movement had it a bit tougher. Not only did they start campaigning for the 8 hur day as early as 1791, when laws were passed they were largely ineffective and the workers had to continue to fight for improved regulations into 1937.

A cathartic event for the American labour movement was the Haymarket riot which occurred in Chicago in 1886. It started as a peaceful protest for the 8 hour day and resulted in a dynamite bomb being thrown by an unknown assailant. It was a terrible incident which resulted in several deaths, false trials, injustices, pardons, etc. it also both strengthened and damaged the labour movement, but is considered one of the founding moments in their history. A monument has now been built in Chicago to remember this event.

2. To recover abruptly from a setback or disadvantage.

There is a fairly familiar phrase in American baseball and that phrase is “poor Cubs”. He Cubs have not won a World Series in 105 years. This is not a good streak. Sometimes they get quite close, on,y to fall at the last hurdle. This just makes the loosing worse. You may believe that the loses are due to the infamous curse of the billy goat or because the Cubs just don’t know how to win, the result is still an amazingly long time between drinks.

I have seen baseball before, in Australia and America. All baseball fields have a different vibe.

We saw a game today between the Cubs and the Reds. I’ll say upfront that the Cubs were. It playing well. The Reds were nit amazing, but were definitely better. The runs that the Cubs did make, were primarily due to errors on behalf of the Reds rather than amazing skills by the Cubs. I am pretty sure that many of the fans also knew that the Cubs were. It playing so well, and left early. (Although this may have been to watch the much more successful Blackhawks who are actually a winning Chicago team). At the end I think there were more seagulls than fans.

Anyway, last innings the cabs are down by three. Cubs are at bat. Two outs, guys on 1st and 3rd. Batter has the chance to even things up. The crowd stands and cheers. We may be able to rally. He has a reasonable chance … And the ball is hit. and the ball goes foul and is caught. Poor Cubs.

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