Chicago is home to many of the World’s Tallest Buildings
(Official website for the World's 200 Tallest High-Rise Buildings)
No. of   Height   Year 
Building Name       Floors    (feet)    Built   Ranking
Sears Tower 1101,4501973  U.S. tallest, world's 3rd tallest
Amoco/Aon Building 801,1361973  U.S. 2nd, world's 12th tallest
John Hancock Center 1001,1271969  U.S 3rd, world's 14th tallest
AT&T Corporate Center 601,0071989  world's 22nd tallest
Two Prudential Plaza 64 9951990  world's 24th tallest
311 South Wacker Drive 65 9611990  world's 29th tallest
900 North Michigan Avenue 66 8711989  world's 44th tallest
Water Tower Plaza 74 8591976  world's 47th tallest
One First National Plaza 60 8501969  world's 52nd tallest
Three First National Plaza 57 7531981  world's 91st tallest

Also the home of Big City attitude! Here is a friendly driving guide to our fair city:
First you must learn to pronounce the city name. It is Chi-ca-go, or Cha-ca-ga depending on if you live North or South of Roosevelt Road. Next, if your road map is more than a few weeks old, then throw it out and buy a new one. If in Naperville or Plainfield and your map is one-day-old, then it is already obsolete.

Forget the traffic rules you learned elsewhere. Chicago has its own version of traffic rules. Hold on and pray.

The morning rush hour is from 6 to 10am. The evening rush hour is from 3 to 7pm. Friday's rush hour starts Thursday morning.

All directions start with, I-94, which has no beginning and no end.

All old ladies with blue hair in a Mercedes have the right of way, and black cars trump white. Period. If you actually stop at a yellow light, you will be rear-ended, cussed out, and possibly shot. When you are the first one on the starting line, count to five when the light turns green before going to avoid crashing with all the drivers running the red light in cross-traffic. Car horns are actually Road Rage indicators or cardio workouts. Never admit to having an allegiance to a sports team.

If someone actually has the turn signal on, it is probably a factory defect.

If asking directions in Cicero you must have knowledge of Spanish. If in Bridgeport, Mandarin Chinese will be your best bet. If you stop to ask directions on the West or South side you better be Irish, Italian, or armed.

There is no such thing as a dangerous high-speed chase in Chicago. We all drive like that. A trip across town (east to west) will take a minimum of four hours, although many north/south freeways have unposted minimum speed limits of 75. The minimum acceptable speed on the Dan Ryan is 85. Anything less is considered downright sissy. The Congress Expressway (Ike) is our daily version of NASCAR. The Dan Ryan is called The Death Trap for two reasons: death and trap.

Construction on Northwest Tollway is a way of life and a permanent form of entertainment.

If it's 100 degrees, it's Taste of Chicago. If it's 10 degrees and sleeting/snowing, it's opening day at Sox Park. If it's rained 6 inches in the last hour, the Western open Golf Classic is in the second round. If you go to Wrigley Field, pay the $25.00 to park in the "Cubs Lot". Parking elsewhere could cost up to $2500 for damages, towing fees, parking tickets, etc. If some guy with a flag tries to get you to park in his yard, run over him.


Chicago is a city of great restaurants, jazz and blue venues, museums, theaters, sport’s teams, universities, etc. The intersection of State Street and Madison Avenue is the center of Chicago. North and South streets number zero at this point as are East and West Streets.

Here are some special Points of Interest.

Chicago Board of Trade – 141 West Jackson Blvd. (btwn S. LaSalle St. and S. Financial St.), 435-3625/3590, The Art Deco building is Chicago’s equivalent to New York’s Wall Street. The world’s oldest and largest futures and options exchange was founded by 82 merchants in 1848 to stabilize grain prices and create a regulated marketplace. Trading can be viewed from the Fifth Floor visitor’s center. Open M-F 9am to 2pm. A thirty minute tour is conducted every half four from 9:15am to 12:30pm. Minimum age is 16. Cost: Free.

Chicago Board Options Exchange – 400 S. LaSalle St. (at W. Van Buren), 800-678-4667. This is the country’s largest exchange for trading stock options. Built in 1985 by Skidmore, Ownings, and Merrill, it has a pedestrian bridge that spans Van Buren Street to meet the Board of Trade. Visitors must watch the action from a Fourth Floor gallery. Open M-F 8:30am to 3:00pm. Cost: Free.

Chicago Cultural Center – 78 East Washington St. (at N. Michigan Ave.), 346-3278, Built in 1897 by Shepley, Rutan, and Coolidge, the Boston firm commissioned to design the Art Institute of Chicago is an architectural beauty inside. This once was the main library in Chicago, which now offers lectures, concerts (Wednesday at noon), films, and an art gallery. The main entrance opens to a grand staircase made of white Carrara marble and glass mosaics. The Museum of Broadcast Communications (629-6000) is also located in the building. The museum highlights national radio and television history, including an extensive library of rare tapes and kinescopes. Chicago’s significant role in early broadcasting and advertising is also featured. Visitors can anchor their own news show (and buy a tape to take home), as well as listen to radio show being broadcast and shop in the Commercial Break store. Open daily, M-W 10am to 7pm, Th 10am to 9pm, F 10am to 6pm, Sa 10am to 5pm, Su 11am to 5pm. Tours on T-Sa at 1:15pm at the Randolph St. Lobby. Cost: Free.

Chicago Mercantile Exchange – 30 South Wacker Drive (at W. Monroe St.), 930-8249, This is the city’s most boisterous trading exchange. This exchange houses futures and options on agricultural commodities, foreign currencies, interest rates, stock market indices, and gold. Visitors may witness shouting, frantic hand signals, and jumping up and down on the trading floor from the gallery. Open M-F 9am to noon. Cost: Free.

Chicago Water Works – 811 North Michigan Avenue (btwn E. Chicago Ave. and E. Pearson St.), 744-2400, This is the Old Water Tower’s Pumping House, and home of the Chicago Office of Tourism Visitor’s Center. Stop by and find out what special events are going on around the city. Open 7:30am to 7pm.

John Hancock Center – 875 North Michigan Avenue (btwn E. Chestnut St. and E. Delaware Place), 888-875-8439, This 327-foot building, built by Skidmore, Ownings, and Merrill in 1970, contains layers of retial, parking, office, and residential space. While shorter than the Sears Tower, its Skydeck Observatory on the 94th floor offers views of the lake and of the loop. Sit down in a meal in the Signature Room on the 95th floor. Both floors offer spectacular views at night or better yet, visit the massive Images Lounge on the 96th floor, where you can have a drink and the kids can have a soda and take in the same view for close to the same price as you’d pay for entry to the Observatory. Open daily from 9am to midnight. Cost: Adults $9, Senior $7, Children 5-12 $6. Just to see how the other half lives, check out: for a view from the 44th floor lobby and exercise rooms.

Navy Pier – 700 East Grand Avenue (at N. Streeter Dr.), 595-7437, This 3,000 foot long municipal pier built in 1916 to serve both commercial and excursion boats. The US Navy occupied it during World War II, and then later it became the first Chicago campus for the University of Illinois. Today it is one of Chicago’s major attractions with over 40,000 sf of restaurants and retail shops. It houses a six-story glass atrium of the Crrystal Gardens, a year-round, one-acre, indoor botanical park. There is also a Ferris wheel that rises 150 feet, and is modeled after the one built for 1893 Chicago’s World Columbian Exposition. A Musical Carousel documents the history of the pier with hand-painted scenes on the rounding boards and 38 hand-painted animals depicting the history of the carousel. Also with Navy Pier is the Chicago Children’s Museum and Navy Pier IMAX Theater. The theater contains 440 seats and an 80-foot wide screen. Theater hours are M-Th 10am to 9pm, F-Sa 10am to 1pm, and Su 11am to 7pm. Navy Pier hours are Su-T 10am to 9pm, F-Sa 10am to midnight.

Sears Tower – 233 South Wacker Drive (btwn W. Jackson Blvd. And W. Adams St.), 875-9696, Built in 1973 by Skidmore, Ownings, and Merrill, the Sears Tower is America’s tallest building with 110 stories, and the third largest tallest building in the world. The 1,454-foot building was the highest allowed by the Federal Aeronautics Administration at the time it was built encompassing over 4.4 million square feet. There are 106 cab elevators with 16 "double deckers." Take a ride to the 103rd floor, Skydeck Observatory, for a spectacular view of the city. The Chicago Experience at the visitor’s center is a multi-image slide show. Open daily, 10am to 10pm, last ticket sold thirty minutes before closing. Cost: Adult $10, Senior $8, Children 3-11 $7.

Tribune Tower – 435 North Michigan Avenue (btwn the Chicago River and E. Illinois St.), 222-3080, This building was designed by Hood and Howell, and came about from an international design competition held by the newspaper in 1922. At street level, the walls have embedded stones from famous and ancient monuments including pieces of the Parthenon, Notre Dame, and the Pyramids. In the north wall of the lobby is a stone from the Cave of the Nativity in Bethlehem. A full equipped WGN Radio Studio can be found at street level. You can watch local radio personalities through a glass window as they report on traffic, sports, and business reports, and converse with them by microphone when they are off the air. The newspaper is printerd at the Freedom Center, 777 West Chicago Avenue (btwn the Chicago River and N. Halsted St.), 222-2116. Free 45-minute tour are given every hour during business hours M-F 9am to 5pm by reservation only.

Water Tower – 800 North Michigan Avenue (at E. Chicago Ave.), 744-2400. This is one of the few buildings to survive the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. Designed in 1869 by W. W. Boyington, it is now a favorite Chicago site to see.

Wrigley Building – 400 North Michigan Avenue (at the Chicago River), Built in 1922 by Graham, Anderson, Probst, and White. This white terra cotta building with clock tower has been a landmark at the gateway to the Magnificent Mile. Housed inside are the corporate offices of the chewing gum company and Kenyon Oppenheimer, Inc., which is a gallery devoted to original prints by 19th century naturalist John James Audubon, and are available for purchase. Open daily.

The Art Institute of Chicago Incorporated in 1879 for the purpose of maintaining a museum and a school of art, the institute grew steadily under the direction of Charles L. Hutchinson, the first president of the Board of Trustees and president of the Corn Exchange. Two bronze lions unveiled in 1894 stand guarding the museum entrance. Discover forty centuries of human creativity through the permanent collections including acclaimed Impressionist and Post Impressionist collections. Don’t miss the ever popular Miniature Thorne Rooms which are 68 dollhouse-scale recreations of period interiors. For children, visit the new Kraft Education Center with special family activities. Free guided tours available each day; check with information desk. Open daily 10:30am to 4:30pm, Tu until 8pm. Cost: Free on Tuesday, Adults $10, Students/Seniors/Children $6.

Museum of Contemporary Art 220 East Chicago Avenue (at North Miles van der Rohe Way), 280-2660, founded in 1967 to expand the Chicago art world beyond the boundaries imposed by the conservative Art Institute. This building opened in 1996, and covers 220,000 square feet which includes besides exhibits, a museum shop, a 15,000 square foot studio classroom facility, a 15,000 volume art library, and a 300 seat theater for film screening and lectures. Open W-Su 10a.m. to 5p.m., Tu 10 a.m. to 8p.m. Cost: Adult $8, Student/Senior $5, Children 12 and under Free, admission Free on Tuesday.

The Museum Campus South Lake Shore Drive and East E. William McFetridge Drive. The Field Museum, 922-9410, This museum was designed by D. H. Burnham & Co. and Graham, Anderson, Probst, and White to resemble a Greek temple and housed the 1893 Chicago World's Columbian Exposition natural history collection. Today it is home to the world famous Sue, the largest and most complete T. Rex discovered to date. Exhibits include a mineral and gem collection. Open daily 8a.m. to 5p.m. Cost:Adult $8, Student/Senior/Children 3-11 $4, admission free on Wednesday. John G. Shedd Aquarium, 939-2426, This museum has the largest indoor aquarium with more than 6,000 aquatic animals. Visit the Coral Reef exhibit (with feeding daily at 11a.m., 2p.m., 3p.m.) where divers enter this 90,000-gallon recreation of a Caribbean coral reef and talk to visitors through a microphone while they feed sharks, sea turtles, eels, and hundreds of tropical fish. Don't miss the Seahorse Symphony exhibit, the 60,000-gallon penguin habitat, and the ten year anniversary of the Oceanarium, which opens up to Lake Michigan as a backdrop. It is home to beluga whales, sea otters, dolphins, and seals. There are daily shows at the Oceanarium. Many activities for children. Open daily at 9a.m. to 6p.m. Cost: Adult $15, Senior/Children 3-11 $11. Adler Planetarium, 322-0300, This pink granite dodecahedron was designed in 1930 by Earnest A. Grunsfeld Jr. as the country's first planetarium. Antique astronomical instruments are displayed, along with exhibits on navigation, history of exploration, and space travel. The gem of the museum is the narrated Sky Show in the doomed theater. Open M-F 9a.m. to 5p.m., Sa-Su 9a.m. to 6p.m. Cost: Adult $15, Senior/Children 4-17 $14, admission free on Tuesday.

Grant Park, Millenium Park , and Navy Pier, are host to a number of special events during the summer. Here's a rundown on some of the popular ones.

Book lovers can stroll the streets of the historic Printers Row neighborhood for the Chicago Tribune Printers Row Book Fair. In its 20th year, the event features hundreds of booksellers and free literary programs. Highlights include novelists like Studs Terkel and Alice Walker in past years. The fair is free, and open from 10am to 6pm during the weekend. Booths are set up along Dearborn Street between Congress and Polk Streets, and long Polk between Clark Street and Plymouth Court. For more information, visit

This year's Taste of Chicago will once again satisfy any appetite for food or music when Elvin Costello, Kenny Rogers, or Loretta Lynn perform. The Taste lasts longer than a week in Grant Park. More than sixty restaurants dish up food from around the world.

At Viva! Chicago Latin Music Festival, Grant Park is filled with Hispanic music. Several vendors show off food, clothing, jewelery, and artwork in conjunction with this event, which is all free.

The 26th Annual Chicago JazzFestival will also be in town for a long weekend at Grant Park, and admission is free.

Various marathons scuttle the local traffic during the summer months. Look for the Race to the Taste 5K Run and the 2-Mile Walk. Registration is about $20.

Grant Park is also host to the Chicago Outdoor Film Festival on Tuesday nights at Butler Field. Bring blankets and picnic baskets to camp out for the film, and admission is free.

Back for an eighth season is the Chicago Summer Dance at the Spirit of Music Garden (601 South Michigan Avenue) for two months on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. One hour lessons start at 6pm followed by two hours of live music and dancing. Be prepared to polka, bop, step, jitterbug, and swing your way through the summer months. The Chicago Summer Dance for Kids is also offered with one-hour ethnic dance lessons set to recorded or acoustic music, and aimed at children five years old and older. These are on Saturday afternoons beginning at 4pm at the Spirit of Music Garden.

For those worrying about the water structure in their proteins, the Tall Ships Chicago program recreates the era of wind-powered ships sailing up and down Lake Michigan's shore near downtown. For one week, visitors can board the ships for tours. The tours cost about $8, or $15 for an all-day pass. Venetian Night is the parade of boats decked out in lights, and followed by fireworks at 10pm.