The same architectural staples, museums, and natural landscapes are in everyone’s lists when travelling to a new and exciting city. And sure, you absolutely have to visit the Cloud Gate and take the perfect picture to complement your Instagram feed. Chicago has a lot more to offer for tourists, especially if you’re looking for weird and quirky stuff that will at least make you sound slightly more interested during trivia night at the bar. Let’s take a look at some of the stuff you should check out during your next visit:
There’s one word to describe this Wizard of Oz inspired park: eerie. L. Frank Baum, Author of the Wizard of Oz, used to live near the Lincoln Park neighborhood, so when the City decided to improve it, honoring the writer seemed like the obvious choice. Since 1974, the city has been slowly adding statues and monuments to every corner of the park. You can visit Dorothy’s playlot, lounge in the Emerald Greens garden, and even take pictures with Dorothy, the Tin Man, the Cowardly Lion, and Toto. The statues of the characters were created by John Kearney, a local artist. Though his talent is undeniably, the statues do have kind of an eerie feel to them.
The World’s Only Button Museum
The Busy Beaver Button Museum, founded by Christen Carter, is the world’s only known museum dedicated to buttons. It has a wide collection going back to the 1800 and still adding all kinds of buttons from different times. Carter is a button maker, she used to make buttons for bands, and she’s really passionate about all thing’s buttons. The museum is a testament to her love of buttons and their history. Every year, the museum invites artists to design limited edition buttons.
When most of us get tired of our neighbors not picking up after their dogs, we might leave a passive aggressive anonymous note on the elevator. Local artists, Jerzy S. Kenar, decided to be a little more assertive and created a statue in honor of all the neighborhood dogs that took to his garden of flowers to alleviate themselves. This bronze sculpture sits on the artist’s property, up on a pedestal while water falls slowly from it and lands on a basin. While other neighborhoods might have been outraged with the giant poop statue, Kenar’s neighbors seem to love it.
Chicago’s Underground Tunnels
In 1899 the city of Chicago started working on a vast underground set of tunnels. The work was extensive and aggressive. By the time they were done, over 60 miles of tunnel had been created. What was missing was a purpose. The Chicago Tunnel Company built the network before having any clients. Luckily, by the time they had finished the Board Trade, City Hall the Civic Opera House and many others were interested in building connections. In the ‘40s and ‘50s the tunnels were used to make deliveries while avoiding the busy streets above. But as the trucking industry began to grow, things slowed down, and eventually the tunnels were closed. Most forgot about the tunnels until 1992, when a tunnel roof was inadvertently puncture flowing the network of tunnels. Since a vast majority of old buildings still had connections to them, they were flooded. The whole thing amounted to about $2 billion in damages. The city learned its lessons and the tunnels have been sealed but there are still informal walking tours that can take you on an above ground stroll through the old networks.