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April 3, 2012


Chicago – 6 fun facts you probably didn’t know

by Jason Dutton-Smith
Chicago downtown

Ah Chicago, home to many stars such as Oprah, Michael Jordan and Bill Murray and once unofficially ruled by the infamous mobster himself, Al Capone. Nestled on 26 miles of lakefront, today the third largest city in America is a cosmopolitan, diverse and fascinating city to explore. Here we explore some of the lesser known facts of Chicago.

While the origins of the nick name ‘Windy City’ are often debated, there are three possible explanations: the sometimes wild and windy weather; the World’s Fair; and the rivalry with Cincinnati. Also thought to be named for the overly boastful politicians, who liked to talk the city up in the 1800’s. Chicago certainly has an interesting and colourful past.

Here are some fun facts about Chicago that make up the DNA of this world class city and helped put it on the map as a must see location.

Buckingham Fountain - Chicago

Buckingham Fountain – Chicago

1. Start of Route 66

Interestingly, Route 66 actually starts in Chicago at Grant Park, downtown. Finishing at Santa Monica Pier in Los Angeles, you can either start or end your Route 66 journey from here.

2. Birthplace of first ever ferris wheel

Debuting at the World’s Fair in 1893, the very first Ferris Wheel in the world was constructed. Today at Navy Pier on the lakefront, the star attraction is a 15 storey ferris wheel modelled after the original.

3. America’s oldest and free entry zoo – Lincoln Park Zoo

With over 3 million visitors annually, the Lincoln Park Zoo is one of only three zoos offering free admittance in the country. It’s also the countries oldest zoo and is home to dozens of different animals and exhibits. Well worth a visit.

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4. View 4 states at the same time

Visible from the top of the Willis Tower lookout (former Sears Tower) 110 stories high are the states of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin. Also visible are stunning bird’s eye views of the city and Lake Michigan not to be missed plus a glass floor box called ‘The Ledge’ looking down all 110 stories to the bustling street below. Not for the faint hearted!

5. Chicago means ‘onion field’?

It sure does. The name Chicago originates from an Indian Tribe Algonquin word ‘Chigagou’ which translates to ‘onion field’. Originally a huge onion field on the banks of Lake Michigan, the city was built on top.

6. The Chicago River runs backwards

An innovative engineering feat for its day, in 1900 Chicago reversed the flow of its river through the city so it emptied into the Mississippi River instead of Lake Michigan. Incredible really.

Have you travelled to Chicago? What other fun facts can you add to the list?

Chicago Skyline from River

Chicago Skyline from where the river runs backwards.

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