8 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Chicago
By Katie Hammel
Chicago's museums are indisputably great, but did you know how great?
Chicago is home to about 40 museums, over 200 theaters and over 200 art galleries, all of which are among the biggest and best in the world. The Shedd Aquarium was the largest in the world when it opened in 1930. Also opened in 1930, the Adler Planetarium was the first in the Western Hemisphere. And Sue, the resident T-Rex at the Field Museum is the world’s most-complete and largest skeleton or her kind.
Did you know Chicago is the birthplace of the modern skyscraper?
In 1871 a fire raged across the city, burning for 25 hours and killing nearly 300 people and destroying 34 city blocks, 100,000 homes, 2000 acres of land, 18,0000 buildings and 73 miles of roads. But out of the ashes grew the new city of gleaming steel and concrete. Now Chicago has some of the most impressive architecture in the world, which you can see on a Chicago Architecture Foundation river cruise.
Did you know Chicago has strong ties with Hollywood?
Many of the earliest films, including many featuring Charlie Chaplin, were filmed on the city’s north side in the former at Essenay Studios. Walt Disney and Siskel and Ebert were born here, Universal Studios began here, and the Oscar statuettes are still made in Chicago. The city has also served as the setting for dozens of shows and movies over the years including “ER,” “Perfect Strangers,” “The Bob Newhart Show,” “Family Matters,” “Married with Children,” “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off“ and more recently, "Batman Begins” and the “The Dark Night.”
Did you know there are 15 swimmable beaches located on the shores of Chicago?
Photo By The West End
For a Midwest city, Chicago offers prime summer beach-going along the 26 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline within its city limits. Each Chicago beach has its own draw, from party-beaches, to more secluded beaches to dog-friendly beaches. The Parks District operates the largest municipal harbor in the world - larger even than Miami's - and boating is a popular summer activity.
Did you know Twinkies - and many other things - were invented in Chicago?
The Ferris Wheel and the tv remote control were also created in Chicago. And the first blood bank, first drive-through bank, first mail order business, and first steel railroad were all started in the Windy City.
Did you know that the Chicago River actually flows backwards (and is the only one in the world that does)?
Photo By AntoniO BovinO
It was reversed to empty into the Mississippi instead of Lake Michigan. Every St. Patrick's Day, it's dyed green as part of the annual parade festivities. Another quirky fact about Chicago: the Van Buren Post Office is the only one in the world that you can drive a car through.
Did you know Chicago is home to the largest Polish population in the world, outside of Poland?
A multi-cultural city, Chicago is also home to large Irish, Italian, Serbian, Croatian, Ukranian and Latino populations. This multi-cultralism is reflected in the city's history, art, and of course, in the food. You can find great Mexican, Indian, Polish, Italian, Ethiopian, Swedish, German, Thai and Vietnamese cuisine (and much more) all over the city at very affordable prices.
Did you know how green the city of Chicago is?
Photo By charaxes9
There are over 522 parks in Chicago. They include 7,300 acres, 33 sand beaches, two conservatories, 16 lagoons, 10 bird and wildlife gardens and 19 miles of biking and walking paths, including the popular Lakefront Path. The largest park is Lincoln Park, home to the free Lincoln Park Zoo and the Green City Farmer's Market in summer. It's second only to Central Park for number of annual visitors. Downtown's Grant Park contains the world's largest rooftop garden and is home to hundreds of free events like concerts, festivals, and the Taste of Chicago, the world's largest outdoor food festival.
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