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North Michigan Ave, also known as the magnificent mile, and the Streeterville area has an interesting history. After the Chicago Fire of 1871 something had to be done with all the rubble. So most of it was just pushed into the lake just east of North Michigan Ave, although people had been dumbing into that area of the lake north of the river since 1834 because a 1,500 foot (457 m) pier was built there. Between the trash and natural dirt collecting, the area because a weird mix of sand bars and marshlands called "The Sands."
The area was ignored by the city because in 1821 a government property survey delineated the Chicago municipal boundary as the lake shoreline. In the late 1880s George Streeter, an American Civil War veteran, claimed that his boat collided with a sandbar off the Chicago shoreline during a storm. Streeter and his wife made the boat their new home and encouraged more dumping in the area. Within a few years the whole area actually became 186 acres (0.75 km²) of solid land!
Streeter claimed the area as his own and named it the District of Lake Michigan. The city government knowing the value of this land eventually, after many eviction attempts and gun battles, put Streeter in jail. In 1918 the courts invalidated his claims of sovereignty and the area has been part of Chicago ever since. Within a few years after the court desicision the area became one of the wealthiest areas of the cities and continues to be that way to this day!
North Michigan Ave and Streeterville became the center of high end shopping in Chicago and in recent years has become a trendy area to live in. Also the neighboring area of River North is becoming a trendy area. No trip to Chicago is complete with out a few hours on the Magnificent Mile.
There is a very small internet bar/cafe culture in the USA. Even then most of the internet bars/cafes tend be located in major urban centers. Accessible WiFi networks, however, are common. The most generally useful WiFi spots are in coffee shops, fast-food chains, and bookshops, but also restaurants and hotels more and more have a network to connect on. Some of them might require you to buy something and you might need a password too, especially in hotels.
See also International Telephone Calls
The general emergency phone number is 911. The USA has a great landline phone system that is easy to use. The country code for the U.S. is +1. The rest of the telephone number consists of 10 digits: a 3-digit area code, and a 7-digit number. Any small grocery store or pharmacy has pre paid domestic or international phone cards. These phone cards are very cheap and offer good rates. The once ubiquitous pay phone is now much harder to find. Likely locations include in or near stores and restaurants, and near bus stops. The cellphone network in the states is slowly getting better but is still not as good when compared to other western countries. Cell phones tend to operate using different frequencies (850 MHz and 1900 MHz) from those used elsewhere in the world (2100 MHz). This used to prevent most foreign phones from working in America. Phones must be tri- or quad-band to work in the U.S. Fortunately, technology has meant that most phones should now be able to pick up one of the U.S. networks. Prepaid phones and top-up cards can be purchased at mobile phone boutiques and at many discount, electronics, office supply and convenience stores. A very basic handset with some credit can be had for under $40.
The US Postal Service is a very good and well priced mail system. There are post offices in every small and large town for sending packages internationally or domestically. Although some might keep longer hours, most are open at least between 9:00am and 5:00pm. If wanting to send a letter or postcard it is best just to leave it in a blue mail box with the proper postage. First-class international airmail postcards and letters (up 28.5 grams) cost $1.10. There are also private postal services like FedEx, UPS, TNT and DHL, which might be better value sometimes and are generally very quick and reliable too.
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