Michigan Avenue - Chicago's Epicenter of Sights and Senses
There is no place in the world quite like Michigan Avenue. If you walk from end to end, you'll run across every sight, sound and taste the city has to offer. From upscale to eclectic and all points between, this street mixes the bustle of downtown energy with the familiarity of blue collar neighborhood normal. This is the street we think of when we picture ourselves in the middle of the skyline. The Art Institute's Lions welcome us like standing sentinels and there's always something surprising a few steps away.
You'll love the architecture, street performers, and just everyday people. You'll run into students, travelers, and city explorers. If you're open to it, you can start a conversation with most any of them. When people think of Michigan Avenue, they have a set picture. For them it might be the Art Institute, or the cadence of foot traffic everywhere you turn. They'll likely talk about the lighting of the Mag Mile, a yearly event for many. The Water Tower is a favored attraction. It's Chicago we're talking about, so there's probably food involved in favorites - the variety of restaurants on Michigan Ave alone could tempt any type of taste. But part of the real draw of this street is in the fact that the history of the place is still so alive and present. You can almost feel the ghosts of the city's forefathers walking beside you.
Michigan Avenue - Historic and Proud
The street was named for Lake Michigan and, in the early days of the city, it actually bordered the lake. Of course, after the Great Chicago Fire, the debris was used as landfill that built up the area east of Michigan Avenue. The parks and architecture surrounding this area offer a constant reminder of the innovative beginnings of a bustling city. In the 1800's, much of Michigan Ave was surrounded by residential homes. The Art Museum, which stands on the original Exposition Building constructed for the World's Fair, is one of the crown jewels of downtown Chicago - a gorgeous building which houses some of the world's most breathtaking artwork.
The Water Tower at 806 N. Michigan Ave isn't only a Chicago Landmark, it's also one of the oldest standing water towers in the United States. It's a local treasure and a cherished image for tourists and locals alike. Much of the skyline view down Michigan Avenue, from the width of the street to the layout of the exquisite city parks, can be attributed to some of the most brilliant architects and city planners of their time. Chicago was home to the first skyscrapers, which can still be seen in the historic district.
The Mag Mile Today
A walk down Michigan Avenue might take you past some of the finest department stores and upscale restaurants in the world. If you venture down to Lower Wacker, you can grab a bite at the Billy Goat Tavern, which you might remember from the early days of Saturday Night Live. Other culinary delights include Bar Toma, Shaw's Crab House, and Spiaggia, to name a few. You definitely shouldn't miss stopping at Garrett Popcorn while you're in the area.
Whether you're in the mood for fine dining or something a little more low key, you can find it all on this fine stretch of road running through the heart of downtown Chicago.