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Chicago Like a Local Blog

Unique perspectives on the city from the people who live here.

Category - Architecture/History

Explore Chicago's Hidden Underground

Thursday, October 18, 2018 7:00 AM by Kelsey O'Connor

There’s so much to see on the streets of Chicago. But most people never see what’s lurking just below the surface.

The city hides layers of tunnels, passages, businesses and more, all beneath our feet. Explore the hidden layers of our city with this deep-dive into Chicago’s underground world.

The Chicago Architecture Center (CAC), which opened its doors on August 31 as the new home of the Chicago Architectural Foundation, provides a fabulous, in-a-nutshell overview of the history of Chicago architecture. It's also the perfect launch pad for your personal discovery of the city's stunning buildings and their enduring legacy. 

The second edition of the Chicago Architecture Biennial officially kicked off September 16, 2017, at the Chicago Cultural Center. The event is the largest architecture and design exhibition in the United States and aims to showcase the transformative impact of creativity and innovation in these fields.

It’s curious to think that in the mid-19th century, the Union Stock Yard Gate once was the last thing that millions of animals saw as they were led to their slaughter for use as meat products and various other sundry goods. Today, visitors to this city landmark will only encounter rumbling trucks belonging to nearby companies such as the Royal Envelope Corporation, Aramark Uniform Services and the Superior Nut & Candy Company.

Chicago is filled with hidden history. From a cemetery concealed beneath the lovely green fields of Lincoln Park to a ghostly guest at a settlement house, some of our city's most historic sites have an untold, eerie side too. October is one of the best times of the year to visit these three (allegedly) haunted, yet history filled places. 

Chicago is the fabled city of big shoulders, big buildings and with a renowned foodie scene, big appetites. But at its core, this is really a city of neighborhoods and diverse ethnic communities. You can travel through dozens of countries and cultures of the world just by exploring Chicago neighborhoods and cultural institutions. The Chicago Cultural Alliance (CCA) serves as connector to 35 museums and cultural organizations representing 24 different neighborhoods and 28 different ethnic communities. Forget about airfare, you can discover China, Haiti, Puerto Rico and Ukraine all in a few days in Chicago.

Once a year, Chicago's closed-to-the-public architectural gems open their doors wide to welcome visitors from near and far. If you've ever dreamed of going behind-the-scenes, inside a Chicago masterpiece, you won't want to miss Open House Chicago, hosted by the Chicago Architecture Center. This free, two-day public event, held this year on October 14 and 15, offers access to our city's exclusive, magnificent mansions, skyscrapers, theaters, private clubs, industrial facilities, private offices and sacred spaces. While the open sites can be discovered in just about every neighborhood in the city, this year marks the first time that the Northwest Side neighborhood of Logan Square/Avondale will be joining the mix.

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