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WHERE TO GO FOR CHICAGO HISTORY

In honor of Chicago's 175th birthday, find out where you can dive deep into the city's revealing past.

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Photo: Library of Congress

Where to Go for Chicago History

On March 4, 2012, Chicago celebrated its 175th birthday. In honor of this memorable milestone, here are just a few of the city's museums and attractions that allow you to dive deeper into Chicago's past.

MUSEUMS

DuSable Museum of African American History
In the 1780s, Jean Baptiste Pointe du Sable was just an African American pioneer from Haiti who set up a trading post at the mouth of the Chicago River. Today, he is celebrated as the founder of Chicago and is the namesake for several Chicago institutions, including the DuSable Museum of African American History. Here — the largest caretaker of African American art, history and culture in the United States — you'll find decades' worth of relics, artifacts, photographs, documents and memorabilia that tell the surprising stories of African Americans from the past and present day. It's a must-see.

Chicago History Museum
You can't talk about Chicago History without talking about the Chicago History Museum. At the crossroads of Chicago's past, present and future, this museum is full of exhibits that illuminate the city's complicated past, shed light on the present and inform the days ahead. Here your groups can see how the dynamic neighborhood of Lincoln Park came into existence, dive deep into Magic to discover the secrets behind the world's oldest illusions and use their five senses to explore the city's history, from hearing the Great Chicago Fire to catching a fly ball at Comiskey Park.

Naper Settlement
The past comes to life at Naper Settlement, the open-air history museum 28 miles west of the downtown Chicago. Across the settlement's 12 acres, your groups will find historic structures from a hand-hewn log cabin to the Victorian era's Martin Mitchell Mansion, galleries that feature archival collections and artifacts, hands-on activities for children and more. Plus, costumed villagers provide tours recounting the area's history and interpreting the buildings that rest on the beautifully landscaped grounds.

Chicago Cultural Center
With its free programs and wide variety of exhibitions — from music, dance and theater to lectures, films and art — the Chicago Cultural Center is full of historic things to explore. In fact, the building itself represents a piece of history. Nicknamed the "People's Palace," the Chicago Cultural Center was constructed more than 100 years ago as the Chicago Public Library and a Civil War memorial. It took nearly a year for 70 men to drive more than 2,000 wood piles 75 feet into the hardpan clay below Michigan Avenue's sandy soil, and today, the structure is just as solid as it was the day construction was completed. Your group can take a private weekday tour through the building or marvel at the exhibits within its walls. Either way, it's certainly a sight to see.

HISTORY-RELATED EVENTS

Chicago's Demisemiseptcentennial Exposition 2012
Now through April 20
City Gallery at the Historic Water Tower

Spread the Word! The Evolution of Gospel from Chicago to the World
Now through May 20
DuSable Museum of African American History

Strike! Chicago Labor History
May 5 and Aug. 25
Chicago Cultural Center

Historic Hotels of Chicago
June 21, July 19, Aug. 16
Chicago Cultural Center

Chicago Landmarks Before the Lens
Ongoing
Chicago Cultural Center

 

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