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Chicago Culture: Key Events, Attractions, and Facts

April 10, 2023 By CityPASS

Chicago's culture and community form a brilliant American melting pot. The city has an incredible history, and you can experience it by checking out some fantastic landmarks and structures.

Chicago, Illinois, is known for its arts, architecture, food, and more. Check out all the puzzle pieces that come together to create Chicago's culture.

Chicago's Culture: What You Need to Know

When you think of Chicago, a few things usually come to mind. First up is Cloud Gate, or "The Bean," which is an iconic sculpture you can check out at Millennium Park. Another well-known building is the Chicago Public Library, the city's first public library. What began as a few book donations turned into a leading community library. In fact, it's celebrating 150 years of service to the community in 2023. As native Chicago citizens know well, the arts and culture of Chicago stand apart from other cities.

Chicago's Rich, Colorful History

Chicago is packed with history and culture, from the museums and buildings to the symbol of Chicago, the Centennial Wheel.

The giant Ferris wheel was built in 1995, inspired by the big Ferris wheel that visited Chicago during the World's Columbian Exposition in 1893. In 2016, the Centennial Wheel opened as part of the 100th anniversary of the Navy Pier. The Centennial replaced the other Ferris wheel and stands at 200 feet tall. It has climate-controlled gondolas, allowing visitors to ride year-round.

Navy Pier has been a gathering spot for the people of Chicago for decades. It has served as a naval base, an entertainment spot, an army base, and a convention center.

Museums and Cultural Institutions

You can visit the Field Museum and browse one of the world's largest natural history collections. Check out SUE, which is one of the most complete T-Rex skeletons in any museum. One of the permanent exhibits you can take advantage of is the Evolving Planet, which takes you on a trip back in time over billions of years. Or, you might submerge yourself in the Inside Ancient Egypt exhibit. Here you'll find mummies as well as lasting hieroglyphs.

Next, you can visit the Art Institute of Chicago and see many exciting pieces. You can't miss the Hartwell Memorial Window, a century-old work of breathtaking stained glass created for Tiffany Studios and commissioned in honor of Mary Hartwell's husband. You can find the glistening piece in the Henry Crown Gallery at the Michigan Avenue entrance to the museum.

After that, you can check out the "Of Gods and Glamour'' exhibit. This collection of over 70 pieces of Byzantine, Greek, and Roman art dating back to the beginning of Western art.

Jazz Music and Musical Arts

Chicago is a jazz and musical arts hub. The Chicago Festival Ballet is a professional ballet troupe that performs classical and romantic dances across America. There's also the Chicago Dance Crash, a touring dance company from Chicago. They mix hip-hop, jazz, and ballet, known as the "fusion style." They offer classes that are open to the public at Visceral Dance Center. Also, a few prominent figures in the jazz world are native to the city. Benny Goodman, known as "the King of Swing," was from Chicago. He was an American jazz and clarinet musician during the 1940s.

It's not just jazz, though. The alternative music venues are just as big in Chicago because of the city's location. Bands of all varieties often stop in and play at various venues.

Deep-Dish Pizza, Chicago-Style Hotdogs, and Iconic Food Scene

Nothing says Chicago like pizza and hot dogs. You can get a Chicago-style hot dog in many places in town, and you know they'll be dressed in the traditional seven-topping style. People also come to Chicago to try the deep-dish pizzas. You can grab an ooey-gooey deep-dish pizza at Grant Park. You can also find Chicago walking food tours, customize your own, and try all the iconic foods from Chicago.

Beautiful Architecture

Chicago is well-known for its various structures, often called the Chicago School. The Chicago School comprises a little bit of everything, including Oriental, Gothic, Tudor Revival, Postmodern, and other styles of architecture. The Chicago School style started with steel-frame construction and eventually expanded to include tube-frame structures. Chicago is home to many beautiful skyscrapers. The Robie House is one of the best-known architectural examples of Frank Lloyd Wright.

One way to take in the beauty of Chicago is to go on a Shoreline Sightseeing: Architecture River Tour. Shoreline Sightseeing provides guided tours up Lake Michigan and the Chicago River. The architecture tour will take you past some of Chicago's main buildings and architectural marvels. In addition, they offer two boarding spots, one from Navy Pier or Michigan Avenue. Either way, you'll get a glimpse of around 40 top Chicago landmarks.

If you want a fantastic panoramic view from way up high, you can check out the 360 Chicago observation deck. You can view the city from the top in the old John Hancock Center. If you are a thrill-seeker, you can add the optional TILT ride. This ride will tilt you out 1000 feet above the city with a view you won't find anywhere else.

Chicago Bulls and Other Sports Teams

The professional basketball team, the Chicago Bulls, began in Chicago in 1966. Michael Jordan played for the Bulls, and the team is well known for supporting the community. Chicago has other professional sports teams, too. The Bears, the Cubs, the Chicago Blackhawks, the Chicago White Sox, the Chicago Fire and Chicago Sky are all major sports teams that represent the city.

The Goodman Theatre and Chicago's Theatrical Scene

Chicago is home to over 200 theaters. Some of the funniest comedy stars began their careers in the Chicago theatrical scene. The theater district is at the Loop. In addition, world-class productions have been born in some Broadway theaters. The Goodman Theatre is Chicago's oldest theater, located in the Loop. It's also a Tony Award-winning theater.

If you're looking for vintage culture in Chicago, the Goodman Theatre is the place. The theater has also won international awards for production and leadership. In addition, they offer the community many educational programs. You'll be dazzled by the live performances if you catch a show here. The art activity in Chicago is something to behold, especially for fans of comedy or drama.

See All of What Chicago Has To Offer at a Discount

There is so much to see and do in Chicago. However, it can take time to decide what to do first.

If you plan to visit Chicago, you should experience everything this city offers. Did you know that with Chicago CityPASS® tickets, you can save at five of Chicago’s best attractions? You can experience the abundant culture of the Windy City for less when you purchase a Chicago CityPASS® ticket.

Chicago Lodging

To get the most out of your stay in Chicago, we recommend finding lodging near Chicago's top attractions. Use this map to find the right lodging for you:

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