Chicago/North Michigan Ave and Streeterville

Travel Guide North America USA Midwestern United States Illinois Chicago Chicago/North Michigan Ave and Streeterville



Church Downtown Chicago

Church Downtown Chicago

© Reece Sanford

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.



Sights and Activities

  • The John Hancock Building is one of the tallest buildings in Chicago and located on the north end of North Michigan Avenue. The observation deck offers great views of the city, some even argue better views than The Sears Tower. If looking to getting around paying the entrance fee to the observation deck it is possible to go to the Signature Room, which is bar on the floor below. The cost of one drink is cheaper than the ticket to the observation deck.
  • Navy Pier was once an industrial pier and is now one of the most popular tourist sights in Chicago. This long pier juts out into Lake Michigan and is home to several shops, restaurants, bars and an amazing ferris wheel! There are weekly fireworks on Saturday and Wednesday. Navy Pier comes off of the east terminus of Grand.



Events and Festivals


  • New Year’s Eve - The US celebrates the outgoing of the old year and incoming of the New Year quite dramatically. Every state boasts its own parties to ring in the New Year, but none is more extravagant than New York’s Time Square, which sees people overflowing into the neighboring restaurants, bars, parks, beaches, and neighborhoods.
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day (officially Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. and sometimes referred to as MLK Day) is an American federal holiday marking the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. It is observed on the third Monday of January each year, which is around King's birthday, January 15. The holiday is similar to holidays set under the Uniform Monday Holiday Act. The earliest Monday for this holiday is January 15 and the latest is January 21. King was the chief spokesperson for nonviolent activism in the Civil Rights Movement, which successfully protested racial discrimination in federal and state law.
  • St Patrick’s Day - March 17 celebrates the US’s large Irish population. Many cities around the country boast boisterous parades and Irish-themed parties, especially New York and Chicago, where the river is dyed green. Be wary of the drunkenness that dominates as this is definitely a party-day.
  • Memorial Day - Memorial Day is an important holiday throughout the United States, but not for crazy festivities. Parades commemorating wartime heroes are often held and the day is also the ‘unofficial’ start of summer. Most visitors follow the crowds to parks and beaches, which are capped off with informal BBQs.
  • Independence Day - Also known as the Fourth of July, Independence Day celebrates the US’s break from the British during the 18th century. Barbecues, street parties, beach trips, and weekend getaways are commonplace to appreciate freedom.
  • Labor Day is a public holiday celebrated on the first Monday in September. It honors the American labor movement and the contributions that workers have made to the strength, prosperity, laws, and well-being of the country. It is the Monday of the long weekend known as Labor Day Weekend. It is recognized as a federal holiday. Beginning in the late 19th century, as the trade union and labor movements grew, trade unionists proposed that a day be set aside to celebrate labor.
  • Halloween - Halloween is a fun holiday on October 31 for all generations to dress up in costumes and relive their youth. Children walk around the neighborhood trick-or-treating for candy, while adults attend parties. Other seasonal events include haunted houses, pumpkin farms and carving, and corn mazes.
  • Thanksgiving - On the fourth Thursday in November, Thanksgiving is held in almost every home in the US. Tourists will have a hard time finding anything to do as the country essentially shuts down in observation. A typical Thanksgiving meal consists of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie commemorating the original Pilgrim’s feast at Plymouth Rock.
  • Christmas - On December 25, Christians celebrate Christmas as the pinnacle of their calendar by attending church and opening gifts from Santa Claus. Almost everything shuts down to promote family togetherness. The northern regions hope to experience a “white Christmas,” with trees and festive lights blanketed by snow.


  • Super Bowl Sunday - the world’s most watched sporting event and one of the highest grossing TV days of the year, Superbowl Sunday is a spectacular extravaganza. Held the first Sunday in February, the Superbowl is the final playoff game between the NFL’s top two teams. The venue rotates every year around America, yet the local parties seem to remain. Pubs, bars and restaurants are great places to enjoy the Superbowl or locals throw their own parties with different variations of betting.
  • The World Series is the annual championship series of Major League Baseball (MLB) in North America, contested since 1903 between the American League (AL) champion team and the National League (NL) champion team. The winner of the World Series championship is determined through a best-of-seven playoff, and the winning team is awarded the Commissioner's Trophy. As the series is played during the fall season in North America, it is sometimes referred to as the Fall Classic.




Gino's East is located at 633 N. Wells St. and has many other locations throughout the city in suburbs. (Hint - in Chicago, never expect the cheese to be on top of the pie.) Gino's first opened in the late 60s and has remained in the forefront throughout the decades. Reservations are not required but highly recommended as wait time for a table can be up to 2 hours on weekends.
Pizzeria Uno is located at 29 E. Ohio Street and is one of the original deep dish pizza places in Chicago. This is the original Pizzeria Uno and can be extremely crowded. Therefore you can walk around the corner to their sister restaurant Pizzeria Due located at 619 N. Wabash.
Al's Italian Beef is one of the most famous Italian Beef restaurants in Chicago. With two locations in the city, one on Taylor and the other on Ontario, this place can give you a dipped sandwich with hot peppers that will make your heart stop.




The Drake Hotel is one of the finest hotels in the world and is located just off of North Michigan Av. The Drake was built in 1920 and housed some of the wealthiest people in the world including presidents and royalty from many generations. Address: 140 E. Walton Place, Chicago, Illinois 60611. Phone: 312-787-2200 or toll free at: 800-553-7253. Visit their website or book now.



Keep Connected


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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This is version 6. Last edited at 8:23 on Sep 23, 19 by Utrecht. 1 article links to this page.

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