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All about Chicago

Rev. 24-Aug-2000
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One of the "most visitable" cities in North American, Chicago boasts leading museums, thousands of restaurants, classic architectural landmarks, a vast variety of stores and shops of all kinds, first-rate theater, cutting edge blues and jazz clubs, 20 miles of beaches, the Cubs and White Sox, and hundreds of acres of parks, zoos and arboretums. Our Worldcon site is in the center of it all. This is definitely not your stereotypical "downtown". (How many past Worldcons have been held within sight of a golf course?)

How To Get Around in Chicago,

or, you CAN get there from here!

by John Donat,

Ok, now that you have decided to come to Chicago for the Worldcon, and now... how do you get there, and once you are here, how do you navigate in this monster of a city!

First, Chicago is blessed with one of the finest transport webs in North America -- two busy airports, 60 Amtrak trains a day, and lots of Interstate highways all come together in Chicago.

If you decide to fly, Chicago is one of a small number of cities that have their airports connected to the transit system. Both O'Hare and Midway have subway (or as we call it in Chicago, the El) stations. The O'Hare station is under the parking garage, and is one of the nicer subway stations, especially considering the limitations placed on it by its design goals. The Midway El station is just east of the airport, reachable by an overhead pedway. Getting downtown is a simple matter of getting a transit card from a kiosk, and getting on the train. The fare is $1.50/trip, no transfer required. If you desire, you can put in more $$, and get discounts on trips after $10.00 and $20.00 increments. The fare cards are also used on the CTA buses. It takes about 30-40 minutes from the airport to the downtown stops. The downtown stops are about 4 blocks away from the hotel. The Midway line is a bit less distant than the O'Hare line. Schedules, maps, and other good stuff are on the CTA's web site [www].

The bus schedules, and maps, are also on the website. You can get to the Museum of Science and Industry by bus (an express one, if I remember correctly),and to the Museum campus of the Field Museum, Adler Planetarium, and the Shedd Aquarium.

Both airports also have websites:

Once you get here, how do you get around?

Here are a couple of easy navigation rules for Chicago:

1. The lake is East.

2. Chicago is built on a grid system - 8 blocks is a mile, 5 blocks are one kilometer.

All addresses are distance from a single point -Madison and State. Everything north of Madison has a North address, everything south of Madison... you get the idea.

Everything west of State has a West address, everything east of State....

So, if you are 1060 West, and 3600 North, you are 10 (almost 11) blocks west of State Street, and 36 blocks north of Madison. You're also at Wrigley Field, but that's another story.

3. Chicagoans do not use interstate numbers, we use names for the expressways. I-94 is both the Edens, and the Dan Ryan -- just depends where you are. I-94 is also the Kennedy, after it combines with I-90, which is also the Northwest Tollway, once you get west of the Tri-State Tollway (I-294). The Tri-State connects with the Edens (I-94 north of Montrose Avenue), the Kennedy (I-90), the Eisenhower (I-290), the East/West Tollway (I-88), the Stevenson (I-55), the Bishop Ford (I-57), and the Borman Expressway (I-80/90 in Indiana). Now that you're thoroughly confused, navigating around the Chicago expressway system is easier than it looks. Really. It is. I promise.

If you drive into the City, once you get into the city you will be on I-90/I-94 (Kennedy/ Dan Ryan). My personal preferences to get to the Hyatt are thus:

The Scenic Route.... Get off at I-290 East -- it won't be an interstate for long, it turns into Congress Street. Take Congress street until you get to Michigan Avenue. Turn Left onto Michigan Avenue (N) go north about 8 blocks, until you get to Wacker Drive. You will want to start getting into the right lane about Washington Street. Go Right on Wacker drive about 2 blocks. The Hyatt will be on your right.

The faster route (possibly not for the fainthearted): Follow the I-290 East route, but before the FIRST light, take the cloverleaf right, and head for the split marked Wacker Drive - LOWER Wacker Drive. Turn on your lights. You are now on the famous Lower Wacker Drive, forever immortalized by Jake and Elwood Blues in "The Blues Brothers." Stay on Lower Wacker. It will curve from the north to the east and then an S-curve to Michigan Avenue. At this point, start getting in the right lane(s). The Hyatt Parking garage(s) are on the right, off of Stetson Avenue. If you get to Columbus Avenue, you went too far! Wacker Drive is due for a major reconstruction, especially for Lower Wacker. If this happens, I'll give you yet ANOTHER way to get to the Hyatt.

If you decide to get out of the con to go to a baseball game (the schedules are not yet published, but hopefully one or both of the teams will be home), getting there is a snap on the El. Both ballparks are on the Red Line (Howard/Dan Ryan). Getting to Wrigley Field by El is highly recommended, as there is virtually no parking available, except for small privately owned lots. Comiskey is at the 35th street stop on the Dan Ryan part of the Red Line. There is considerably more parking at Comiskey, but the El is a fast and safe way to the ballpark.

Other interesting places to go, and this is just an early, and short list. Navy Pier - Navy Pier has become an entertainment complex, with clubs, theatres, restaurants, and museums. The Chicago Children's Museum is there, and take it from a member, it's fabulous! Parents, as well as kids love this place. My favorite is the 30 foot water table, with about a bazillion ways to move and re-direct water!

Navy Pier does very good fireworks on the weekends, up to and including Labor Day. Navy Pier will also have a Shakespearean theatre by the summer of 2000. We have Boston and Baltimore to thank for Navy Pier - the Fanueil Hall complex, Harborplace, and Navy Pier were all developed by the same company.

Michigan Avenue and State Street shopping areas.... we are very close to the Michigan Avenue shopping area - just go West on Wacker Drive to Michigan, go over the bridge, and you are there! The shopping, etc. goes on for about 6 blocks, all the way to the John Hancock Building.

The State Street shopping area is south and west about 4 blocks from the Hyatt. Marshall Fields and Carsons are two of the main shopping attractions there.

Some Chicago Resources

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