One of Chicago’s most well known spots is called The Magnificent Mile. Essentially, that “Mile” stretches 13 blocks along the famous Michigan Avenue. From the banks of the Chicago River over to Oak Street, the beauty of Chicago can be encompassed in the moments surrounding the “Mag Mile.”
Here’s a recap for those of us curious of the hot spots to travel there and some brief history of it. For those of us who aren’t experts, but maybe someday hope to be.
1. The Art Institute
Founded in 1879 as Chicago Academy of the Fine Arts, when it opened, it got the best paintings in the whole entire world. The donation from Mrs. Henry Field allowed for this moment to live on in 2018. The Art Institute boasts of the best Impressionistic work from France and the lions came from Mrs. Field as they opened their doors. If you want to see a moment in history, please stop by the Art Institute along the Famous Mag Mile.
2. Millenium Park
Richard M. Daley created Millenium Park after much debate in 1997, 20 years after it had been pitched for the first time. Not only does it feature 25 acres of land, the iconic “Bean” sculpture Chicago is known for, but it also provides the Jay Pritzker Pavilion which allows for concerts in the park almost daily in the summer. Wandering here improves your well being, gets you active and makes your Chicago experience a full one.
3. The Cultural Center
This is literally my favorite spot on the Magnificent Mile, tied with the Art Institute. Across the street from Millenium Park, this historical building built in 1897 used to be a library and then later, doubled as a military Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) meeting hall. The dual entrances show a completely different architecture, one styled like the Italian Renaissance with a grand mosaic lining the stairs, the other with rigid structures of bronze and green-veined marble lining the stairs. The two domed tops, including one of the largest Tiffany Domes in the world is a magnificent view. This is the first free municipal cultural center in the nation and it is open to the public for events and art exhibits.
4. Shopping on Michigan Avenue
Chicago is famous for Shopping along the Magnificent Mile! Although technically the shopping on Michigan Ave is a little north of that mile, there are shops galore including: the Disney Store, Nike, Zara, Coach and more! More often, tourists are at Water Tower Place or 900 N Michigan Shops, both of which have be around for years. You can’t miss out on this opportunity, especially around the holidays.
5. John Hancock Tower
The John Hancock Tower, which has been renamed to 875 N Michigan Avenue, is a building that was created in 1968 and at the time was the second tallest in the world. With a restaurant and lounge upstair (for those over 21), and an observatory, some of the best and most comprehensive views in Chicago of the skyline come from this building. So buy a drink in the lounge and be practically on top of history in the Magnificent Mile!
6. Wrigley Building
The Wrigley building (named after the chewing gum magnate William Wrigley) was the first to break ground on the north side of the Chicago River in 1920. What is amazing about it is that when you walk underneath the two buildings, you get to look up and see the fourteenth floor connecting the buildings together (built in 1931). Never will you find something like that. And, this building was the first air-conditioned office building in Chicago. Go explore the walkway directly next to the Chicago River, especially around St. Patrick’s Day when the River is dyed green! Great views!
7. Broadway In Chicago
I’m stretching us just a little bit because this one is around the Magnificent Mile, but not quite on it. But one can’t deny the theater in Chicago, nor ignore it! It’s truly incredible. The Oriental Theatre, Cadillac Palace Theatre, CIBC (Majestic) Theatre, Auditorium and Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower are all complete masterpieces when it comes to their construction and history. Take a tour of one of the theatres and you’ll begin to understand what an impact these theatres had on Chicago’s economy as well as culture. All beginning at the Magnificent Mile!