1: Buckingham Fountain
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Made of Georgia pink marble, Buckingham Fountain is considered Chicago’s front door since it resides in Grant Park, the city’s front yard. Kate Buckingham donated it to the city in memory of her brother, Clarence Buckingham. It represents Lake Michigan and each sea horse symbolizes a state that borders the lake (Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana and Michigan). The lighting is designed to mimic moon lighting. It contains a million and a half gallons of water, its center jets shoot water up 150 feet. During a display, you’ll see more than 14,000 gallons push through 193 jets per minute.
2: The Art Institute lions
These two bronze lion statues have been standing guard at the Art Institute since it was re-built for the World’s Fair after the first building was destroyed in the Chicago fire. The Art Institute was established in 1879 by 35 artists and has the most notable collections of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art in its permanent collection. At one million square feet, it is the second largest art museum in the United States behind only the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The artist who designed them named the lion to the south Stands in an Attitude of Defiance and the lion to the north On The Prowl.
3: Crown Fountain
Built in 2004, the Crown Fountain is an interactive work of art and video sculpture in Millennium Park. The reflecting pool is made of black granite. And the 50-foot-tall towers are made of glass brick with an LED digital video display that flashes 1,000 pictures of Chicagoans. Since it was built, it’s become an iconic part of Chicago’s pop culture and a very popular spot for family photos.
4: Cloud Gate
The Cloud Gate is a 110-ton elliptical sculpture forged of a seamless series of highly polished stainless steel plates designed to reflect the city’s famous skyline and the clouds above. Inspired by liquid mercury, the sculpture is among the largest of its kind in the world, measuring 66 feet long and 33 feet high.
5: The Wrigley Building
It is often called the Jewel of The Mile. The giant two-story clock in the south tower features four dials, each 19 feet, 7 inches in diameter. Each dial has an hour hand that measures 6 feet, 4 inches long and a minute hand that is 9 feet, 2 inches long. Because of its positioning, people coming from all directions of the city can see the clock.
6: A cow
You’re right, a cow, the same animal blamed for kicking over Mrs. O’Leary’s lantern and starting the Great Chicago Fire. These cows stampeded Chicago in 1999 in an array of bright colors crafted by local artists. Afterwards, the cows were sold, raising about $2 million for charity. This bronze cow is at the Chicago Cultural Center, at the northwest corner of Washington and Michigan.
7: The Chicago-style hot dog
The Chicago-style hot dog got its start from street cart hot dog vendors during the Great Depression. They’d start with a hot dog, pop it in a steamed poppy seed bun and cover it in mustard, relish, onions, tomato, pickle, peppers and a dash of celery salt. Money was scarce, but business was booming for these entrepreneurs who sold their hot dogs for only a nickel.
8: The L
The Chicago rapid-transit system is called the “L.” The nickname comes from the earliest days of the elevated railroads when newspapers in the 1880s referred to Chicago’s proposed railroads in Chicago as “L” roads.
9: State Street
Bounded by the Chicago River, Lake Michigan and Roosevelt Road, the Loop got its name in the day of cable cars. The 1.6-mile area was surrounded by a large loop of cable wire that the cars traveled, pulled by a pulley. Still called the Loop, it’s the second largest business district in the U.S. In the center of the Loop, you’ll find State Street, often called the Great Street.
10: The Marshall Field clock
Built more than a 100 years ago, Marshall Field had this clock built. He wanted people to see it from miles away and come to shop at his store. Norman Rockwell made it famous when it made the cover of the Saturday Evening Post in 1945.
11: ABC 7 State Street Studio
The first of its kind in Chicago, the State Street Studio allows for a front-row look at the most watched newscast in the city. Onlookers can look directly at the anchor desk through the window into the world of live television. ABC 7 broadcasted its first show 62 years ago.