Exploring the Tribune tower

Many downtown Chicago attractions lend themselves to fun and unforgettable experiences with children. The Magnificent Mile, though considered by many a playground of sorts for adults, isn’t one of them.

Or is it?

“Hidden” gems exist right out in the open for all eyes to see, just north of the Chicago River at the Tribune Tower, 435 N. Michigan Ave.

The building’s Gothic style, especially the cathedral-like upper section, is what most people think about when viewing the Tribune Tower. Street level, however, is where all the action is. Opportunities to conduct lessons in history, social studies and geography abound: not only can you find the McCormick Freedom Museum here, but the Tribune Tower is home to more than 150 artifacts from historically important international locations. These treasures are embedded into the limestone exterior and are available for viewing and touching.

Artifacts selected for inclusion in the Tower are first authenticated and then put on hold for years to ensure their significance stands the test of time. Once the long wait is over, a stone mason cuts its outline into the limestone façade and it is permanently affixed to the building. The artifacts are generally stone pieces from different locations, such as a piece of the Berlin Wall, that are placed into the Tribune’s exterior, along with a description of where the item is from.

Some of the places represented at this one-stop"museum” include:

n Abraham Lincoln’s original tomb (Springfield, Ill.)

n The World Trade Center (New York, New York)

n The Parthenon (Mount Pentelicus, Greece)

n The Coliseum (Rome, Italy)

n The Arc de Triomphe (Paris, France)

n Independence Hall (Philadelphia, Pa.)

n The Berlin Wall (Berlin, Germany)

n The Taj Mahal (Agra, India)

n The Great Wall (Nankow Pass, China)

The wonders of Tribune Tower don’t stop there. After you explore the outside, step inside to see the Hall of Inscriptions. Inspirational quotations about the press and freedom of speech from public figures such as Abraham Lincoln, Patrick Henry, Benjamin Franklin and even Tribune founder Colonel Robert McCormick adorn the lobby walls. Information about all of the features of Tribune Tower is included in brochures, available for free in the lobby. This is one treasure hunt the entire family will enjoy.

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