Dat Toddlin Town

By Larry Lannon

Channel Partners runs from Aug. 23 to Aug. 26, in other words, from Tuesday evening to the final session of the program at midday Friday.

Some attendees are planning to spend the weekend of Aug. 27 and 28 in the Midwestern metropolis. Thats a good idea. I have lived in Chicago my whole life and love it. We have great music, theater, art, architecture, and food and drink. We like to talk and laugh in neighborhood joints. We love to use our parks. Lake Michigan is a gem. Our summer sports teams, particularly on the North Side, are generally poor, and are both suffering through tough seasons this year. No matter theres plenty to do.

Here are a few suggestions on how you can have some fun:

Grab an hour or two at the Art Institute. Seriously. The Art Institute is on Michigan Ave., a short distance north of McCormick Place. If you think an art museum must be boring, as I used to, you need to spend some time in Chicagos. It is fantastic, it is crowded and youll never think of art museums in the same way again. By the way, a new featured program that looks at art during World War II will open at the end of July and is expected to be a huge hit. The Art Institute is adjacent to Millennium Park, the citys new living room more on that below.

Take a walk along the lakefront, starting at museum row (The Field Museum and Shedd Aquarium), a few blocks from McCormick Place. Walk north and cross the Drive (Lake Shore Drive, or LSD) to spend a few minutes at Buckingham Fountain, where you can enjoy the Fountain and an unparalleled view of the wall” of Americas best skyline. Then walk due north through Grant Park to Millennium Park, with its Bean, the fountains and families, the food and the music.

If you love architecture and American history, touch two bases with one great river tour. The Chicago River winds through the center of the city, breaks into two branches and cuts as intimately through the citys history as it does through our streets. Chicagos first settler, Jean Baptiste Point du Sable, a black man arrested by the British during the Revolutionary War for supporting the American patriots, built a permanent home in 1790 on the north bank (at Wolfs Point, where the two branches converge). Fort Dearborn was a few blocks away on the south bank at Michigan Ave. though the Fort Dearborn Massacre took place in the summer of 1812 south of that point, including near where McCormick Place now stands, while the settlers and soldiers were attempting without success to retreat to a more secure location around the southern end of the lake. The Republican Party in May 1860 nominated Illinois favorite son, Abraham Lincoln, as its candidate for president at the Wigman, a block south of the river at the corner of what is now Lake and Wacker. (If you are an ardent Lincoln fan, you definitely want to visit The Abraham Lincoln Bookshop on Chicago Ave., a short El ride north of the river.) The Chicago Fire, which nearly destroyed the young city in 1871, started a few blocks west of the south branch and jumped the river twice, once to burn what is now the Loop to the ground and the other time north to burn much of what was then the small North Side. And there is much, much more including tremendous architecture stretching back to the late 19th Century, when Chicago became a major force in American architecture. All of this history can be enjoyed from a comfortable boat during a tour moderated by a well-informed guide.

Maybe you want to relax after Channel Partners? Just unwind, maybe with some shopping and dining? You will have plenty of options. The shopping along North Michigan Ave., the Magnificent Mile, is world class bring plenty of scratch! And there are fabulous restaurants and bistros all along the Mile, with excellent sidewalk dining during the summer.

Or, if you want to see rest of the city, Chicago is a wonderful walking city. So follow the sidewalk to some neighborhoods that dont have tour guides:

Lincoln Park, on the near north side, was for many years the genteel center of the Chicago where affluent Chicagoans lived after putting in their work days at the Board of Trade, the hospital or the law firm.

On the South Side, Hyde Park is the home of the University of Chicago, which boasts other worldly gothic architecture and an ambivalent monument to the first controlled nuclear reaction, which took place under the stands of the old football stadium on the edge of campus in late 1942; fantastic public art and private architecture; and the family home of President Obama. It also has my favorite bookstore, the 57th St. Books, a few blocks from the campus. In addition, the World Fair known then as the Worlds Columbian Exposition was held in Hyde Park in 1893 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Columbus voyage and, on a local level, Chicagos resurrection after the fire of 1871. The Museum of Science and Industry is the last structure remaining from the Exposition and a great destination on the South Side.

Wrigleyville is on the North Side, a few miles north of Lincoln Park, with Clark St. as the main throughfare. Called Wrigleyville because it seems to be organized around Wrigley Field, Wrigleyville has become a center for entertainment and night life, a magnet for young adults whether the Cubs are playing at home or not. Part of the area, North Halsted St. or Boystown, a short distance east of Clark in Wrigleyville, is the center of Chicagos thriving LGBT community.

Andersonville is another North Side neighborhood, a few miles north of Wrigleyville and also on Clark St. Less popular and crowded at night than Wrigleyville, Andersonville is also the coolest neighborhood in the city right now, with a great urban social mash, a booming bar and restaurant district, small hip shops and galleries, and plenty of street smarts and attitude.

If you are planning to stay and spend a few extra days in Chicago, be confident: you made a good decision, no matter what your interests are. Get out, hit the streets and enjoy your time on the Third Coast.

Larry Lannon is group publisher of


s Communications Network,
which includes

Billing & OSS World


Channel Partners




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