History and architecture go hand in hand in Chicago. After the Great Chicago Fire, the city reinvented itself, and the plan that Daniel Burnham and Frederick Law Olmsted developed for the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition became a model for the rest of the city. Around the turn of the 20th century, innovations like the First Chicago School of architecture (the first skyscrapers) and the Prairie School architectural movement (Frank Lloyd Wright) came into being.

View places to visit in Chicago for architecture & history buffs in two days with this educational exploration.


DAY 1: Downtown Chicago Past & Present

Chicago Model: Chicago Architecture Center


❏ Start off the morning inside a National Historic Landmark with fresh New American dishes at Atwood Café within Staypineapple, An Iconic Hotel, The Loop. The hotel and restaurant are housed in one of the nation's earliest modern day skyscrapers and the first to be constructed after the 1871 Great Chicago Fire. Known as the Reliance Building, it was constructed by architects Daniel Burnham, John Root and Charles Atwood.

❏ Head to the Chicago Architecture Center (CAC) where you will find more than 85 tours to choose from and the replica city Chicago Model. From "Tiffany Treasures" to "Evolution of the Skyscraper", every tour is chock-full of fascinating facts. Try a Pedway Tour to learn about history and architecture with a walk underneath the city, or on Saturday mornings, take their South Side "L" Train Tour and discover Bronzeville, Chinatown, the South Loop and more from elevated trains.


Harold Washington Library

❏ Refuel in a historic landmark building with a pizza at Acanto. Famed architect Louis Sullivan used acanthus (the Roman architectural motif) in his distinctive terracotta ornamentation found on the exterior facade. This trio of buildings on South Michigan Avenue are known as the Gage Group because they were designed for the Gage Brothers, a hat wholesaler.

❏ Then explore the Harold Washington Library Center. This building is purported to mirror different stages of the city's architectural past. To the east is the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University, which opened in 1889. Sullivan's finesse is displayed in the building's interior, where most of the public rooms are lavishly finished. The grandest interior space is the theater itself, with four broad elliptical arches spanning the width of the theater and decorated by plaster reliefs covered with gold leaf.

❏ Enjoy high tea at the Palm Court in The Drake Hotel, a grand old hotel that hosted notable celebrities like Bing Crosby, Walt Disney, George Gershwin and Charles Lindbergh.

❏ Shop the many specialty shops on State Street as well as Loop retail centers like Macy's on State Street and Block 37, or head to nearby Wabash Avenue for look at the gems in historic Jewelers Row.


❏ For dinner, enjoy classic German fare and pints at The Berghoff. It's been around since 1898 and retains the city's first liquor license.

❏ Spend the night at the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel, the recently opened lodging housed within a historic Venetian Gothic landmark building.


DAY 2: Old Town & Oak Park

History Museum 


❏ Start the day along the lakefront with an exploration of the Old Town neighborhood. Brunch and sightsee from atop The J. Parker, an all-seasons rooftop restaurant with open views of Lincoln Park below, and Lake Michigan and the downtown skyline beyond that.

❏ Then take off for the Chicago History Museum to learn of the city's colorful past. This major museum and research center for Chicago and American history boasts a collection that includes 22 million artifacts and documents.


Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio

❏ For a weekend lunch, don't miss the tender baby back ribs at the historic Twin Anchors Restaurant & Tavern.

❏ Chicago is home to the largest number of original Frank Lloyd Wright sites. Venture a bit outside the city to Oak Park, where you'll find the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio and learn about the life of this architectural genius and his Prairie style — the first uniquely American architectural style of the twentieth century. Dedicated to the preservation and interpretation of Wright's design legacy, the Frank Lloyd Wright Trust operates public tours here and at four additional Chicago-area sites.


❏ For dinner, enjoy the rustic, seasonal dishes at Sepia. In 1890, its building was a print shop. Today, artifacts of a bygone era adorn its interior.


PLUS... Extra Itinerary Option: Pullman National Monument

A. Philip Randolph Pullman Porter Museum

If your itinerary allows, add a morning visit to visit Pullman. Glimpse into the life of a Pullman porter at the A. Philip Randolph Pullman Porter Museum. The Pullman neighborhood was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1970 — and more recently, a National Monument.

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