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July 23, 2014, 6:29 pm

Chicago: always worth the trip

Chicago’s first permanent resident was a trader named Jean Baptiste Point du Sable, a free Black man apparently from Haiti, who came here in the late 1770s.

Today, Chicago is known as a world-class city of beauty and culture. It’s a city where people of every race and religion come to pursue the American dream.

Chicago is also a city of breathtaking beauty and extreme architecture, with tall glass and steel buildings. In fact, Chicago is a living museum of architecture, thanks to the genius of men like Daniel Burnham, Louis Sullivan, Frank Lloyd Wright and hundreds of others.

Many would agree that Chicago is the birthplace of the modern building. From historic landmark buildings to contemporary technological masterpieces, this city is home to unique and innovative designs that have shaped American architecture.

How many know that the modern skyscraper was invented here in the 1880s, in part because the downtown was small and land prices high? By the end of 2000, six of the world’s tallest buildings were found in Chicago: The John Hancock Center was the first Chicago building to rise more than 1,000 feet when it opened in 1969, and the Sears Tower is arguably still the tallest on the planet in several categories.

Nicknamed the “Windy City,” often a reference to the winds that blow off Lake Michigan, Chicago offers much more than its stunning architecture. To begin with, because of its location in the middle of the country, Chicago has always been a magnet for artists and performers, from the vast American heartland.

Jazz came to town from New Orleans via the Mississippi in the 1920s. And the blues arrived when African Americans headed North in the 1930s during the Great Migration. And loving both forms of music as I do, I was thrilled to find plenty available — especially at night when there are enough clubs and concert halls to please even the most discriminating taste.

And speaking of taste, there are more signature dishes for which Chicago is known the world over. Deep-dish pizza, gyros and Cracker Jack were all invented here. And the local barbeque is legendary.

Chicago also honors its history. For example, you can take an in-depth look at Chicago’s rich African-American heritage in Bronzeville.

In its heyday, this historic neighborhood of parks, museums and cultural centers, was an urban mecca for African-American businesses, culture literature and politics, and a national destination for African Americans journeying from the South.

Also available to visitors is the informative “Roots of Chicago Blues & Gospel” tour that allows you to relive the stories of blues musicians and gospel greats while tracing the history of these singular urban art forms. From the Mississippi Delta to Chicago’s South and West Sides and beyond, you can appreciate just how the contributions of local musicians influenced the world and discover the places that put Chicago on the map. The tour included Bronzeville, as well as Record Town and Pilgrim Baptist Church, the home of gospel.

And if architecture, music, food and history aren’t enough reasons to plan a trip to this great city, Chicago’s visual arts selection just might be.

The Art Institute of Chicago is one of the world’s leading art museums with a renowned impressionist and post-impressionist collection of works by Monet, Renoir, Degas, Van Gogh and others.

World-renowned for its diverse collection of museums, you can also explore those offering a wide variety of subjects, from modern arts, African-American culture, astronomy, natural history and much, much more.

So if you’re looking for an elegant, adventurous, mouth-watering, cultural and fun trip for your next vacation, Chicago should very well rank high on your list.