24 hours in Chicago
Written by Anna Blessing Illustration by Patrick Hruby
Adversity builds character. In Chicago, it also built skyscrapers. The massively destructive Great Chicago Fire of 1871 set the stage for the city's transformation into what it is today.
Out of the ashes came world-leading urban planning and building innovation including the worlds first skyscraper creating a liveable, easy-to-navigate city along the lake.
Rebuilding efforts established early careers for internationally acclaimed architects, with others following on to push Chicago as an architectural leader for the next century.
Visitors today can find works from Chicago School spearheads Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright; mid-century greats Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Bertrand Goldberg; and contemporary stars Frank Gehry, Renzo Piano, and Helmut Jahn.
Scouting the past century of styles could absorb several days, but its possible to see many of the great landmarks in a one-day tour of Chicago. A rich and diverse culinary culture offers endless stops along the way to recharge and refuel.
Chicago's extensive system can get you just about anywhere, and the Transit Authority's phone app, CTA Bus Tracker, helps with routes and timing.
The elevated train – 'the el' – links most neighbourhoods, and is often the fastest way from the airport to downtown.
The best way to experience the city and its stunning architecture is on foot; the grid system makes for easy navigation.
Cabs are easy to catch in the city, rates are reasonable, and they are often the easiest way to get around.