An Expert’s Guide to the Chicago Cultural Mile | 1000M
16 October 2017
Ask a tourist to name their favorite aspect of Chicago and the answers will come fast and furious: the dizzying diversity of dining experiences, an afternoon at the Friendly Confines, the opulence and energy of the Magnificent Mile. But ask a Chicagoan – any self-proclaimed expert on our Windy City – and the answer gets complex because Chicago is simply fabulous. She is a city who has always known how to build and rebuild, weaving each modern progress around, between and above her historic foundation. Nowhere in the city is this more distinct than the Chicago Cultural Mile. And from no vantage point is this impressive stretch more replete – and accessible – than from 1000M.
Seize one of those rare autumn afternoons for an experiential walk up and down Michigan Avenue’s oldest stretch, from Roosevelt Road north to the River and back to your doorstep at 1000M. Here’s some of the gems you’ll find along the Cultural Mile.
This area is actually east of Michigan Avenue – thereby not technically on the Mile. However, the short extension is easily justified by the rich artistic, historic and – obviously cultural – significance of the pedestrian-friendly expanse. The Adler Planetarium, the first planetarium in the U.S., opened its doors in 1930 with a mission to inspire exploration and understanding of the universe. Also opened in 1930, the Shedd Aquarium is one of the world’s largest and uniquely interactive indoor aquariums containing 32,000 animals within a staggering 5,000,000 gallons of water. The Field Museum of Natural History and its collections originated from a temporary structure erected for the 1893 World’s Fair. In 1921 the structure was moved from Jackson Park to its current location where permanent and temporary exhibitions continue the museum’s foundational mission to preserve artifacts illustrating art, archaeology, science and history.
Belovedly regarded by many of Chicago’s urban dwellers as our “cozy” backyard, Grant Park was officially designated in 1844 as Lake Park. Debris from the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 became “lakefill” and significantly increased the acreage of the park and was renamed to honor Ulysses S. Grant in 1901. At different times, the park was site to a post office, exposition center, armory and an early home field for the Chicago Cubs. Walk through Grant Park today and its features are seemingly endless. Millennium Park, Maggie Daley Park, Buckingham Fountain, The Art Institute, Petrillo Music Shell, Congress Plaza, The Court of the Presidents and Hutchinson Field are all notable interior areas within Grant Park. The lakefront area is also home to Chicago’s most notable festivals including the Taste of Chicago, The Jazz and Blues Fests, as well as Lollapalooza.
Although Millennium Park officially opened to the public in 2004, it was created to commemorate the recent turn of the century and bring residents and tourists together in a free-admission and universally accessible space. The Cloud Gate sculpture, commonly referred to as the Bean, has become the visual icon of the Park and the Chicago Cultural Mile in general. Indian-born British artist Sir Anish Kapoor created the piece after observing the fluidity and transformation of liquid mercury. In thematic parallel, the sculpture’s surface reflects and distorts the city’s skyline. The Crown Fountain and Lurie Gardens are not to be missed. You can grab a bite and drink at the Park Grill and during the winter you can ice skate on McCormick Tribune Plaza & Ice Rink.
The Art Institute of Chicago
Although officially founded as an institute in 1879, this permanent structure again traces its construction roots to the 1893 World’s Fair. At a present expanse of nearly 1 million square feet and boasting a permanent collection of 300,000 works of art supplemented by 30 special exhibitions – the Art Institute of Chicago is second only to New York’s Metropolitan Museum of art in size and reputation. Notable works in the permanent collection include Georges Seurat’s A Sunday on La Grande Jatte — 1884, Pablo Picasso’s The Old Guitarist, Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks and Grant Wood’s American Gothic.
Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO) and Symphony Center
Founded in 1891, the CSO is one of the oldest American orchestral institutions and prominently considered one of the “Big Five.” Currently, Riccardo Muti is the music conductor. The Symphony Center includes the 2,522-seat Orchestra Hall (dating from renowned architect Daniel Burnham’s original design); Buntrock Hall, a rehearsal and performance space; Grainger Ballroom, an event space overlooking Michigan Avenue and the Art Institute of Chicago; a public multi-story rotunda; and the Tesori restaurant.
Call 312-781-7510 or contact us to schedule your private showing.