Welcome to the Windy City
Beyond Hyde Park are the magnificent attractions of a dynamic city. Downtown Chicago, also known as "the Loop," is a 15-minute drive (except just prior to Bears games and the 4th of July celebration) from the University of Chicago Hospitals and campus. Museums, theaters, shops and department stores abound, among them the Art Institute of Chicago, with its acclaimed French Impressionist collections and the Thorne Rooms, the Terra Museum of American Art, the Goodman Theater, the recently refurbished Chicago Theater, Orchestra Hall (home of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra), Louis Sullivan's Auditorium Theater, the Carson Pirie Scott store, the Tiffany dome at Macy's, and Water Tower Place and Magnificent Mile shopping. Observatories in both the Willis Tower and the John Hancock Building provide breath-taking views of the city, day or night. Other attractions include the Field Museum of Natural History; John G. Shedd Aquarium and newly built oceanarium; Adler Planetarium; Lincoln Park Gardens and Conservatory; the recently refurbished Buckingham Fountain in Grant Park; and Navy Pier, which recently reopened after extensive renovation. It contains a number of attractions, including a 150-foot tall Ferris wheel. In Hyde Park itself are the Oriental Art Institute, the Smart Gallery, and the most-visited institution in Chicago, the Museum of Science and Industry.
Chicago is bounded on the east by Lake Michigan. City officials have taken great pains to ensure that lakefront land from one end of Chicago to the other remains unspoiled and available for public use. (By endowment, a two-mile border along the entire lakefront is to be reserved for public parks.) Thus, the shoreline is entirely bordered by public parks, and a bicycle path extends the full length of Lake Shore Drive. The Petrillo Band Shell offers free live music in Grant Park against the backdrop of the skyline (including Willis Tower) throughout the summer. A highlight is the annual Independence Day concert, featuring the 1812 Overture with live cannon fire and a fireworks display. A nine-hole public golf course is available at Waveland Avenue. The lakefront Lincoln Park Zoo is free and open to the public year round. The lake itself is popular for swimming, fishing and boating.
Tour boats take passengers from the Chicago River out onto the lake for a spectacular view of the skyline. Several public harbors along the shore offer ample opportunity for the sailing enthusiast; the University's sailing club offers summer lessons on Jackson Park Harbor. The University's Crew Club rows on the Lincoln Park Lagoon. Numerous beaches offer a place to relax, sunbathe and swim.
The city sponsors a variety of festivals through the summer in various lakefront locations, including Taste of Chicago, featuring food from hundreds of restaurants throughout the city and suburbs, accompanied by a free music festival. The Blues Festival and the Jazz Festival attract well-known performers from around the world. At an annual Ribfest, people from all over the city compete to see who makes the best barbecue ribs (amateurs only!). Nightlife in Chicago is terrific, as well. The selection of nightclubs, blues clubs, and concert auditoriums offer plenty of choices to fit a wide range of tastes.
Chicago is often described as a city of neighborhoods. Many of these neighborhoods have retained their ethnic character over generations, supporting restaurants of every nationality, as well as museums of ethnic culture and other items of interest. The multi-ethnic character of the city creates a degree of diversity uncommon in most Midwestern cities. Hyde Park, owing to the University's presence, is something of a microcosm of the city's diversity, in that people of a wide variety of backgrounds call the neighborhood home.
The city has much to offer sports fans. The Chicago Bears make their home in Soldier Field on the lakefront. Baseball fans may choose between South Side favorites, the White Sox, playing at Comiskey Park, and the North Side's Cubs in Wrigley Field. Professional basketball (the Chicago Bulls), hockey (the Blackhawks), and soccer (the Chicago Fire) also abound. Amateur sports enthusiasts will learn that Chicago is the home of 16-inch softball, which is played throughout the city.