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magnificent architecture

flickr/Ed Schipul

Magnificent ArchitectureBy Suzanne Lemon

Another reason to take at least an afternoon to explore The Magnificent Mile, one that even those averse to shopping can appreciate: four of Chicago's great architectural landmarks.

Creating a kind of grand gateway to The Magnificent Mile along the Chicago River are the Tribune Tower and Wrigley Building, symbols of pre-Depression prosperity and emblems of the city itself. The stunning neo-Gothic Tribune Tower boasts a base implanted with bricks and rocks from world-renowned structures, samples of which include the Great Wall of China, the White House and the Taj Mahal. And the Wrigley Building, with its glazed terra cotta tiles and stately clock tower, presents a nighttime light display that makes an everlasting impression in Chicago's soaring skyline.

Then several blocks north there's the Gothic Revival-style Water Tower, a famous survivor of the Great Fire of 1871 and monument to Chicago's endurance with a pumping station that's still operational. Decorative battlements and a rough-hewn façade may remind observers of a theme park, which in a way, The Mag Mile is—if lavish spending can be considered a theme. You can step inside the beloved tower to obtain information about things to do in Chicago or to peruse free photography exhibitions at City Galley. Directly opposite is the 100-story John Hancock Center with its iconic X-shaped exterior bracing and a broad below-ground plaza with shops and restaurants, landscaped planters and a large curtain waterfall. Here you can see phenomenal 360-degree panoramas of downtown, the lakefront and even surrounding states from 360 CHICAGO (formerly the John Hancock Observatory) and a vertigo-inducing open-air Skywalk and the TILT enclosed glass platform.

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Chicago, IL

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Travel Information

City Population

2,695,598

Elevation

673 ft.

Sales Tax

Illinois sales tax is 6.3 percent; cities and counties impose additional increments. The Chicago area has a lodging tax of 17.4 percent.

Emergency

911

Police (non-emergency)

311

Hospitals

Mercy Hospital & Medical Center, (312) 567-2000; Northwestern Memorial Hospital, (312) 926-2000; Resurrection Medical Center, (773) 774-8000; Saint Anthony Hospital, (773) 484-1000; The University of Chicago Medicine, (773) 702-1000; University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System, (866) 600-2273.

Visitor Information

111 N. State St. (lower level) Chicago, IL 60602. Phone:(312)781-1000

Air Travel

O'Hare International Airport (ORD)—17 miles northwest of the city—is served by major domestic and foreign carriers. Midway International Airport (MDW), though smaller and serviced by far fewer carriers than O'Hare, is closer to the Loop—only 8 miles southwest of downtown.

Rental Cars

Chicago is served by major car rental agencies. Arrangements should be made before you leave on your trip; your local AAA club can provide this assistance or additional information. Hertz, (312) 372-7600 or (800) 654-3080, offers discounts to AAA members.

Rail Service

Chicago Union Station, 225 S. Canal St., is the city's main train depot and Amtrak's local hub. Trains run to both coasts and well into the South, with stops at most major cities along the routes; phone (800) 872-7245.

Buses

Greyhound Lines Inc. has its station at 630 W. Harrison St.; phone (312) 408-5821 or (800) 231-2222.

Taxis

Taxis are readily available in Chicago.

Public Transportation

Transportation by train and bus is available in Chicago.

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