Attractions & Historic Sites

Below are some of the top attractions and historic sites in downtown Chicago. 

Chicago Water Tower 800 N Michigan Ave

The Chicago Water Tower is a landmark structure built in 1869 that survived the great fire of 1871.  Also contains a gallery of Chicago-themed photography exhibits.

Chinatown  Wentworth & Cermak

Currently the fourth largest Chinatown in the United States, a visit to this unique neighborhood is to experience a whole different world without ever leaving Chicago.

Cloud Gate in Millennium Park

The 110-ton elliptical sculpture is forged of a seamless series of highly polished stainless steel plates, which reflect Chicago’s famous skyline and the clouds above. A 12-foot-high arch provides a “gate” to the concave chamber beneath the sculpture, inviting visitors to touch its mirror-like surface and see their image reflected back from a variety of perspectives.

Harold Washington Library Center  400 S. State St.

John Hancock Center  875 N. Michigan Ave.

Visit the observation deck on the 94th floor.

Or, sip a drink on the 96th floor at the Signature Lounge.

Navy Pier   Illinois St. at the Lakefront

Dining, shopping and entertainment on the lakefront.

Ferris Wheel at Navy Pier

For a unique view of the city, take a spin on the Ferris Wheel at Navy Pier.

Poetry Foundation 61 W. Superior St.

The Poetry Foundation houses a 30,000 volume poetry library, an exhibition gallery, and a performance space for the Foundation’s extensive roster of public events.

Prairie Avenue District S. Prairie Ave. & E. 18th St.

Following the Fire of 1871, the area around the 1800-1900 blocks of S. Prairie Avenue, the 1800 block of S. Indiana Avenue and 211-217 E. Cullerton Street was the city’s most fashionable neighborhood.  Two individual Chicago Landmarks, the Clark House and the Glessner House, are located within the district and are available to tour.

Glessner House 1800 S Prairie Ave

The Glessner House was built in 1887 and is the home of Henry Hobson Richardson Glessner, an architect whose work inspired Frank Lloyd Wright. The house has been painstakingly restored and preserved and includes an outstanding collection of 19th and 20th century furniture and decorative art.

Clarke House Museum 1827 S. Indiana Ave.

Built in 1836 for Henry B. Clarke, the Clarke House Museum is Chicago’s oldest house.

Robie House  5757 S. Woodlawn

Robie House, on the University of Chicago campus, was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.

The Rookery Building 209 S. La Salle St.

Set in the heart of Chicago’s Financial District, Daniel Burnham and John Root’s Rookery Building is a historic Chicago landmark. When completed in 1888, The Rookery was one of the most expensive and largest commercial buildings in Chicago, housing more than 600 offices.  Public guided tours of the interior are offered every weekday at 12 Noon.

Tribune Tower  435 N. Michigan Ave.

Marked by a crowning tower with flying buttresses, this building is derived from the design of the French cathedral of Rouen. At its base, the exterior is studded with over 150 stones from famed sites and structures of all 50 states and dozens of foreign countries. The Tribune Store and the Lobby are the only interior elements of the building that are publicly accessible.

Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower) 233 S. Wacker Dr.; Enter Skydeck on Jackson Blvd. (south side of building)

Visit the Willis Tower Skydeck and step out on the Ledge!

Wrigley Building  400-410 N Michigan Ave

The Wrigley Building is one of the city’s (and the nation’s) most notable corporate landmarks.

Top 40 Buildings in Chicago – Article in Chicago Magazine, October 2010.

Worth the trip!  Here’s two attractions in the near west suburb of Oak Park.  Oak Park is easily accessible via public transportation – CTA or Metra.

Ernest Hemingway Museum  200 N. Oak Park Ave., Oak Park

Frank Lloyd Wright Home & Studio  951 Chicago Ave., Oak Park

For more historic & landmark buildings, check out the Chicago Architecture Foundation tours .

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One thought on “Attractions & Historic Sites

  1. Poetry Foundation in River North would be a great addition to this list. Great LIBRARY and programs daily in an architecturally significant bldg.

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