(In addition to the canonical local color, this set of lists is strongly skewed by my personal enthusiams.)email me
This compendium is for members of Chicon, who are only in town for a few days, with hours or half-days (or empty stomachs!) to fill, so “here” is the Hyatt Regency on East Wacker (city center map). Except for Hyde Park (Museum of Science and Industry, University of Chicago, site of the first nuclear "pile", site of 1893 Columbian Exposition), marked with this Ξ, I've tried to restrain myself from things more than a couple of miles from the Loop. Alas, no Pullman, Garfield Park Conservatory, or Green Mill (fortunately, Ric Addy's tour of the basement is on YouTube ).
|elevated / elevated train
|the Bean||Cloud Gate|
|uh, the fountain with the big spitting faces . . .||Crown Fountain|
|Sears Tower||Willis Tower|
|U.S. Cellular Field|
Chicago is laid out on a grid. A century of address numbers is a "block" is 1/8 mile, and parallel streets mostly are ⅛ mile or 1/16 mile apart. Numbers count from State (east of or west of) and Madison (north of or south of). For example, the station name signs at L stations include the coordinates. (The first three miles south of Madison, the oldest part of the city, are a little different but the only thing you might care about is Roosevelt Rd. ("Museum Campus") is "1200 South" but only one mile south of Madison.)
The units of distance I use here are ⅛ mile blocks and/or miles (you're in a great location for walking), and approximate cab fares.
The vernacular city is a crazy quilt of “neighborhoods”. Any more detail is beyond our immediate scope, but a Chicagoan might identify a location by its coordinates or by its neighborhood.
Lake Michigan squeezes together the east-west Interstates, giving us more numbers than we need, so the doubling up gets messy. You may want both a name-number cross reference and a map.
For understanding radio traffic reports, there are both narrative and map forms. Things are generally pretty smooth between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m.
You'd rather not. By May, I'd already talked with someone considering leaving their car in Kenosha for the week and coming from there on the train. Fortunately, there's more than you need in walking distance, and a lot of things are a reasonable (under 3 miles) cab ride.
Chicago has good bus & train service. (The trains and busses are one system, with transferring back and forth.) A lot of busses run on Michigan Ave., the corner downhill from the hotel. The hotel is about half a mile from the L or subway.
The CTA uses mag stripe fare cards (vending machines at all train stations), and strongly discourages cash. Basic fare is $2 for busses or $2.25 for L or subway for three rides in two hours; the first transfer is another 25¢, the second is free. The easiest thing for a tourist is a 1-day pass for $5.75, a 3-day pass for $14, or a 7-day pass for $23. You can buy them (at least 10 days!) in advance; from the vending machines in some L stations (including O'Hare); and at Walgreens and Osco drug stores, Jewel and Dominick's supermarkets, and currency exchanges.
The closest place to the hotel to buy passes seems to be the Walgreens drug store at 300 N. Michigan. Fwiw, there seems to be a Walgreens every block or three in all directions
There's a whole new fare systen with chip cards. You get them at any L/subway station. $5 buys you a card with $5 on it, and it's reloadable. They're pre-paid cash cards which can be used in stores, too. The system is too new to be completely debugged, or for us to know where the kickbacks go.
The CTA does a good job with maps. There's a pretty well-arranged online map (we're “Illinois Center” on the south side of the mouth of the river) and a tourist destination map (we're #40 at coordinate D5). The easiest place to get a paper copy of the system map is from the attendant at a train station. (Here's another map.)
And for trip planning, Google maps or the CTA homepage.
(By the way, the L goes beyond the city limits. The Purple/Evanston line goes north into Wilmette (ah, the Baha'i Temple!); the Lake St. L Green line goes west into Oak Park, where they're still cashing in on Frank Lloyd Wright and Ernest Hemingway; and the Congress Blue Line goes to Forest Park, ending a couple of blocks from the Haymarket Memorial in Waldheim/Forest Home cemetery, set in the middle of the world's greatest collection of dead anarchists.  )
The geography is very flat, the city provides excellent bike maps, you can take a bike on the CTA or ride 28 miles of lakefront, and there's even organized twittering of the latest Lakefront Trail Conditions.
back to ToC
Chicon Disability Services will supply scooters and wheelchairs IF YOU RESERVE BY SUNDAY, AUGUST 19, OR YOUR CHECK REACHES THE P.O. BOX BY FRIDAY, AUGUST 17.
Here's the online reservation form and the mail-in reservation form.
(Chicon 7 website links)
There's a Hosteling International hostel at Congress and Wabash, a mile south of the Worldcon. A mile from Worldcon is a serious inconvevience, but $35–$40 a night is seriously cheaper! (see note on bus passes under CTA, mentioning a LOT of busses up & down Michigan Ave.)
As of July 11, there were beds available at all three levels (prices including taxes)
|10-bed dorm||8-bed dorm||room|
They sell CTA passes there, too.
Counting every place you might grab a weekday lunchtime sandwich, I estimate there are 400 restaurants within a $10 cab ride of the Hyatt. Since this page is not primarily a restaurant guide, I've linked the best stand-alone restaurant guides for places convenient to the hotel, and flagged them with ♦ .
The most venerable restaurant guide in Chicago is Chicago magazine's ♦ .
Chicago's stalwart free weekly, The Reader is not the giant it once was, but their ♦ still rules. In fairness, Time Out Chicago is out to give them a run for their money (and has a ♦ vegetarian restaurants list).
♦ even lists Al's beef, demonstrating that they really are about food, not just showing off. And their nationality list ♦ “ ” has 122 headers . . .
And a veteran local fan is also a restaurant reviewer. Leah Zeldes writes for Dining Chicago. (One of the pocket "neighborhoods" I didn't list below is Rush St., where the conventional conventioneers go. Dining Chicago actually lists it by its nickname, ♦ “Viagra Triangle”)
We're on the boundary between two food neighborhoods: south of the river and north of the river.
The Loop is heavily oriented toward office-worker lunches, with relatively little after 5 pm or on Sunday. A non-intuitive champ is the turkey sandwich at Jaffa Bagels here in Illinois Center. Handfuls of turkey right off the carcass! The best smoothies in the Loop are at Brian's Juice Bar & Deli (80 E. Lake, 3 blocks away), a great little Middle Eastern/American lunch place.
The latest generation of the family of the illustrious Berghoff (17 W. Adams) kind of screwed the place up, but it's still gorgeous, still has a killer collection of Columbian Exposition pictures (they couldn't just sell their beer, so they had a full beer garden — and then moved it downtown, becoming this restaurant, when the Fair closed) and still serves house beer, both light and dark, house bourbon, and house root beer. And the former Men’s Bar still has carvers making sandwiches to order for lunch.
The closest restaurant row is ♦ “ ”   (about 2 mi. away, ≈$8.50 cab ride, including tip) on Halsted St., which is a great place to overeat. (Jo Walton recommends Greek Islands.)
corrected to add Actually, the old Haymarket, Randolph west of Halsted, is now a hot yuppie restaurant strip. It's slightly closer than Greek Town, ♦ “ ”. (There's a not-bad statue with bogus commentary plaques where the speakers' platform cart was on May 4, 1886.)
There were once a lot of great delis to choose from, but not any more. Ada's (5-6 blocks) on Wabash is OK, but for a $10-12 cab ride, you can go down to Manny's by Roosevelt Rd (1141 S. Jefferson). It really is posible to run into anyone in Chicago there. When the Mayor or the President do photo ops, they really eat lunch. ("Holiday Menus: High Holidays; Passover; St. Patrick's Day")
Chinatown is 3 miles or a short subway ride south ($12-14 cab ride, including tip), and, of course, has ♦ and ♦ and ♦ and ♦ of ♦ . My favorites include Joy Yee and Lao Sze Chuan in the big mall on Archer; Little Three Happiness (which has a ♦ “ ” named after it) on Cermak; and Evergreen down Wentworth.
Due to history and density, there are a lot of neighborhood names overlapping in a small area: “River North” is from the river to Chicago Ave. (800 N); “Near North” is from the river to Division (1200 N). From Division to North Ave. (1600 N.) is the Gold Coast.
(explanation of Chicago's "hundreds" street numbering above)
The stretch of Michigan Avenue north of the bridge is “the Magnificent Mile”. East of Michigan is “Streeterville” ("Pine St." became north Michigan Ave. when the bridge was built). ("Cap" Streeter may be the most implausible celebrity in Chicago's history. The Wikipedia article is wildly hostile, and not too accurate, but it is not possible to be completely accurate .)
|♦ Reader||♦ Chicago magazine||♦ Time Out Chicago||♦ Dining Chicago||♦ Urban Spoon||♦ Zagat|
|Magnificent Mile||Magnificent Mile||Magnificent Mile||Magnificent Mile|
||River North||River North
||River North||River North||River North|
|Near North||Near North||Near North||Near North||Near North|
|Gold Coast||Gold Coast||Gold Coast||Gold Coast|
North of the river there's a lot more for tourists and conventioneers. (If you want the Rock N Roll McDonald's or Rainforest Cafe, please close this window now. You're embarrassing me.)
Just over the bridge, across Michigan Ave., and downstairs ("lower Michigan Ave." looks nothing like "the Magnificent Mile"!) is the . . . famous? notorious? legendary? World Famous [sic] Billy Goat Tavern & Grill (430 N. Michigan).
I was close to middle-aged before I discovered that Italian beef isn't as universal as hamburgers or tacos or Polish. It's a Chicago thing. Mr. Beef (666 N. Orleans, between Erie & Huron, about 1¼ mile) is the real deal.
Yes, Chicago is ♦ about pizza.
The canonical folklore is that Chicago pizza originated after WW II as bar food at Pizzeria Uno, though the younger sibling a block away, Pizzeria Due is at least as popular. Send someone ahead an hour early to wait in line to order your pizza(s); the rest of the party needn't be there until it's just about ready. You do want to take a look at Medinah Temple across the street. It was saved from the wrecking ball by being recycled into a department store, which is really weird, but at least its exterior is still there.
The closest adequate pizza to the hotel is Bacino's, a block west across Michigan or the Giordano's just south down Michigan at 130 E. Randolph. Good options nearby include Gino's East (162 E. Superior); Giordano's (730 N. Rush); Lou Malnati's (439 N. Wells); and a little further, Edwardo's (1212 N. Dearborn).
There are at least two Loop lists, urban spoon's ♦ , and menupages' list which includes ♦ . Chicago magazine's excellent list of ♦ covers the metro area, but many of the listings are central. And there's a follow-up comment at ♦ .
Note for walkers: From the hotel down Michigan to Congress and over to Buckingham fountain is a total of about a mile. From the fountain down to the Field Museum is about another mile.
Printers Row Fine & Rare Books
715 S Dearborn St
Selected Works Used Books & Sheet Music
410 S Michigan Ave
23 E Illinois St
213 W Institute Pl
Abraham Lincoln Book Shop Inc
357 W Chicago Ave # 200
Newberry Library bookstore
60 West Walton St.
Booklegger's Used Books
2907 N Broadway St
2850 N Lincoln Ave
2959 N Clark St
The Gallery Bookstore Ltd
923 W. Belmont Avenue
3251 N Broadway St
3444 N Clark St
1164 N Milwaukee Ave
1854 W North Ave
1564 N Milwaukee Ave
Bucket O'Blood Books and Records
2307 N Milwaukee Ave
Seminary Co-Op Bookstores
5757 S University Ave
1501 E 57th St
O'Gara & Wilson, Ltd
1448 E 57th St
57th Street Books
1301 E 57th St
3819 N Lincoln Ave
Ravenswood Used Books
4626 N Lincoln Ave
The Book Cellar
4736 N Lincoln Ave
Shake Rattle & Read / Book Box
4812 N Broadway St
Women & Children First
5233 N Clark St
6753 North Sheridan Road
The Bookie's Paperbacks and More
2419 W 103rd St