A&A Chicago visit 2009



Possible activities

Al Capone's Hideaway & Steakhouse, St.Charles, Illinois. An actual Speakeasy from the 20s, on the Fox River. Legend has it that Big Al hung out there. Contains a lot of the memorabilia from the former Al Capone Museum. Servers dress as gangsters. Jazz on second floor.


Art Institute of Chicago. One of America's great museums. Located adjacent to the Loop and Grant Park. The building was originally constructed for the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition. At 1m square feet, it is the second largest museum in the USA, after the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.


Auditorium Theatre Tour. The Auditorium Theatre is one of the masterpieces of architects Dankmar Adler and Louis Sullivan. Tours are available at 10.30am on Thursdays, and can be booked online in advance. The building is located on South Michigan Avenue, near Congress Parkway.


Chicago Architecture Foundation: Highlights by Bus Tour. Covers 30 miles of Chicago architecture, including the Loop, Hyde Park, Gold Coast, Lake Front, and IIT. On Fridays and Saturdays tour includes interior of Frank Lloyd Wright's Robie House.


Chicago Architecture Foundation: Walking Tour of Historic Downtown. Includes Holabird & Root's Art Deco Chicago Board of Trade Building. Daily at 10am and 3pm.


Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Two tickets booked for Sibelius concert at 8pm on Thursday 14th May. Takes place in the famous Orchestra Hall, designed by Daniel Burnham in 1904. The symmetrical facade of the Hall is of deep pink brick, complemented by while limestone quoins, lintels, and other decorative elements. Above the second floor are inscribed the names of Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, and Wagner.


Chicago Tribune Tour. There is rumoured to be a tour of the Chicago Tribune newspaper, but it may be discontinued, and I am researching. Train tracks run to the warehouse to deliver 20 railroad cars full of paper each weekday.


Criminal Courts. The public are presumably admitted to the criminal courts, which might prove an interesting experience.


Eli's Cheesecake Factory Tour. The Schulman family have been baking cheesecake for over 50 years, and do so today in a 62,000 sq.ft. state-of-the-art bakery on the northwest side of Chicago at 6701 W Forest Preserve Drive. Opportunities to tour the factory and eat cheesecake. Eli's cheesecake is neither New York nor French style. It is a unique Chicago style baked with a high profile with a firm outside and very creamy inside.


Farnsworth House. One of Mies van de Rohe's most famous buildings. Tours hourly from 10am to 3pm. Allow two hours driving time from Chicago, so perhaps not practical.


Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust: Hyde Park. Combination Robie House Interior and Historic Neighbours Self-guided Audio Tour. Advance tickets available for tours at 11am, 12pm, 1pm and 2pm, Friday to Sunday.


Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust: Oak Park. Combination tour of Frank Lloyd Wright's own house and studio, and surrounding historic district. The self-guided exterior audio tour must be taken prior to the Home and Studio Tour. Tours available 10.00 am to 3.30 pm.


Green Mill Cocktail Lounge. One of Chicago's best known jazz clubs, located at 4802N Boradway Avenue. Offers a 'warm, glowing atmosphere steeped in the heady sounds of the early 30s and 40s'. Sophisticated informality.


John Hancock Observatory. Unique open-air Skywalk takes you to the edge, 94 stories above the Magnificent Mile. You are protected by a high-strength stainless steel screen. Also Cafe Espression by Lavazza. Designed by Skidmore Owings & Merrill, it was completed in 1970. The building contains offices, restaurants, and 700 condominiums including the highest residences in the world.


Lincoln Treasures Exhibition at Chicago History Museum. The Lincoln's Treasures exhibition tells the story of Abraham Lincoln's rise to the presidency. The family-friendly exhibits include Lincoln's desk, his watch and chain, his brush and comb, and the bed in which he died.


Merchandise Mart. World's largest commercial building, at 222 Merchandise Mart Plaza. Founded by the master retailer Marshall Field & Co, it opened in 1930 as the largest building in the world. It was bought by Jospeph P. Kennedy in 1945. Now contains 11 floors of permanent showrooms for gift, residential, casual and contract furnishings.


Music Box. The Music Box Theatre is Chicago's leading art house cinema, housed in an original 1929 movie theatre seating 800 people. Every Little Step opens May 15th.


Obama Tour. I have not been able to find a guided Obama Tour, but the Explore Chicago website gives details of Obama-related neighbourhoods and places to visit, including the Hyde Park and Kenwood neighbourhoods. 


Odyssey Lake Cruises. Dinner, Lunch or Brunch cruises. Choice of a 'vibrant, theatrical dining cruise experience' on the Spirit of Chicago, or the 'casual modern dining cruise experience' on the Mystic Blue. Spirit of Chicago offers burnch, lunch, sunset or dinner cruise, with combination of dining, dancing, entertainment, and breathtaking views. Mystic Blue describes itself as Hip and Cool, with DJ entertainment and a trendy urban ambience. Offers Brunch, Lunch, Lake-Breeze Dinner Lounge or Blue After Dark Moonlight cruises. 


Sears Tower Skydeck. Voted one of the 7 Wonders of Chicago by Chicago Tribune Readers. Observation floor open from 10am to 10pm. Last ticket sold at 9.30pm. The Sears Tower, at 1451 feet, is the tallest building in the USA.

Segway Experience of Chicago. Experience driving a Segway on a tour of downtown Chicago. Two hour tour includes a glide around Millennium Park, then southbound along the Lakefront Bike Path. Segway focuses its research and development efforts on creating versatile, agile, short-range devices that utilize patented dynamic stabilization technology. Meeting location is at Gateway Park, just west of the entrance to Navy Pier.

University Club of Chicago. Founded in 1887, the Club house was designed by Holabird & Roche in 1908. The Cathedral Hall, a lofty medieval-style banqueting room on the 9th floor, offers a night view of the lakefront and creative menus inspired by the seasons of Chicago, complemented by an extensive wine list from the Club's cellar. Jacket required. Reciprocal arrangement with the Oxford & Cambridge Club.

Possible theatrical evenings

America: All Better. Well reviewed and cheerful satirical song and dance review about a time of hope under the new President.

Grapes of Wrath. Well reviewed performance of Steinbeck's tale of the Great Depression.

Hizzoner: Daley the First. A theatrical profile of Richard Daley the famous and crooked boss of the post-war Chicago Democratic political machine.

Rod Blagojevich Superstar. Musical satire based on the life of the recently disgraced Governor of Illionois, Rod Blagojevich.


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