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Chicago evening skyline Aerial view

20 Things You Didn’t Know About Chicago

Written by on 20th February 2020
Category: City guides

The third-largest city in the US, Chicago represents a key national and international economic region. With more and more business travellers using our growing range of furnished apartments in Chicago, we have compiled a fascinating list of things you didn’t know about this business destination. 

1. How Chicago became the Windy City

Birds eye view of Chicago at night
The city of Chicago comes alive at night

If you thought that the name comes from the travelling winds of Lake Michigan, you’d be partially correct. With that being one of the many supposed origins of the city’s moniker, the name most likely comes from the idea that Chicago politicians talk a lot of hot air.

2. A view of a lifetime

The Skydeck of Willis Tower over looking the city.
Visit the Willis Tower Skydeck for a view unlike any other

The Willis Tower sits in the centre of the city and is the second largest building in Chicago. From the top of the Skydeck, you can just about see 4 different states: Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin and Michigan. Completed in 1973, the tower is still one of Chicago’s top attractions with the Skydeck bringing in 1.7 million visitors a year.

3. Home of the best live music

The Jay Pritzker Pavillion at sunset in Chicago.
A free night of entertainment to enjoy after a long day

In the centre of Chicago, you’ll find Millennium Park, and it happens to be one of the best live music venues around. With a capacity of 11,000, the Jay Pritzker Pavilion is perfect for a special evening while staying in Chicago on business. With big names like Idina Menzel hosting shows at the venue, each performance is a spectacle in itself.  

4. St. Patrick’s Day fervour  

The Chicago River dyed green for St. Patrick's Day.
Get involved with the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations

Every year on St Patrick’s day, the residents of Chicago take to their boats to watch the river turn green for the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. With the dye in the river lasting around 24-48 hours, the dye lasts almost as long as the notoriously raucous parties.

5. Backwards running river

The Chicago River during summer.
The only river in the world to run backwards

The flow of the Chicago River was officially reversed in 1900, but it wasn’t the first time this had been achieved. In 1871 the existing Michigan and Illinois canals were deepened, making the Chicago River run backwards. Although it wasn’t a permanent change, it sparked the idea for a later generation to use the method to solve the city’s river sanitary issues.

6. Rooftop seating

A section of baseball stands on top of houses rooftops.
The secret rooftop for catching a game or two

Whether it’s for a work event or friends wanting to catch a game together, there is no place better to watch a Cubs game than the rooftop of the Wrigley View Stadium.   Package deals tend to be the most cost-effective option but single tickets are also available. While here, you can even indulge in some classic ‘game-watching’ food with an onsite bar.

7. The longest major league Baseball Game

Wrigley stadium with statue outside of Cubs player.
‘Hey batter batter swing’

At a total of 25 innings, the Chicago White Sox beat the Milwaukee Brewers 7-6 in 1984. The game lasted a total of 8 hours and 6 minutes. The Chicago Cubs have also won the World Series Championship 3 times so far – 1907, 1908 and 2016.

8. The Deep Dish Pizza

A slice of a deep dish pizza with dripping cheese.
Deep dish pizza was invented in Chicago

Famed as a Chicago delicacy, it’s reported that the deep dish pizza was first created in Uno Pizzeria buy the owner Ike Sewell. With the delicacy constantly undergoing improvements, there really is only one way to find out just how delicious the deep dish pizza is…

9. City in a park

Aerial view of Lincoln Park in Chicago
For a breath of fresh air, head to Lincoln Park

With 7,600 acres split into 570 different parks, the city truly is a haven for park lovers. Some of the best known Chicago green spaces include the Millennium Park, Jackson Park and Lincoln Park. Take a stroll through one of the parks to relax and unwind between business appointments.

10. The world’s first skyscraper

Chicago Skyline at dusk looking out over the beach.
Chicago Skyline

In the 1800s the world’s first skyscraper was built in Chicago. The Insurance Building consisted of 10 stories and finished construction in 1884. Looking at the building today, it seems minuscule compared with the giant buildings surrounding it.

11. The nation’s capital of food and beverage manufacturing

Beer brewery conveyor belt with beer bottles and machines
Home to the world’s food and beverage industry

With over 4,500 food and beverage companies based in the Metro area alone, Chicago has been the home of food and beverage manufacturing since 1891 when William Wrigley (now owned by Mars) decided to start up his company here.

12. Chicago has over 30 food festivals

People walking through a gate that says 'Taste of Chicago'.
Indulge in some mouth-watering cuisine while in Chicago

From the Chicago Food Truck Festival to the Chicago Whisky and Wine Festival, there is bound to be a festival that’ll take your fancy (out of thirty to choose from).

13. Free Music Festivals for Everyone

4 people singing into microphones on stage.
A music lovers haven while travelling on business

From Jazz, House, Blues, and Gospel – you name it, Chicago has a free festival for it. Located around the city, these fabulous free music events are open to all. With many events happening in Millennium Park, the festivals are in a prime location for accessing the music easily.

14. The elevated railway

The Chicago L train coming round a corner with a view of Chicago in the background.
The Chicago L train is ideal for travelling around the city

The L train (‘L’ being short for ‘elevated’) was originally built in 1892, making it one of the first of its kind in the country. Chicago was the fastest-growing city during the 1900s, which is why quite a few ‘firsts’ happened during this period.

15. Speaking of firsts

Wall of TVs in different sizes and colors
The first all-colour television station was in Chicago

As one of the leading cities in the US for historically significant milestones, Chicago also happens to be the first city to: hold a televised presidential event, host an open-heart surgery, open the first US blood bank and build the world’s first all-colour television station.

16. The 226 Club

Mood lighting focused on a bar with spirits on the wall.
Enjoy a classic Chicago style pizza at Club 226

Now known as the Exchequer, the 226 Club is one of the city’s most famous spots – but not for its delicious pizza. Once an infamous hangout of Al Capone and his cronies, the restaurant has a notorious history, including a secret door that was used as Capone’s getaway if the occasion arose.

17. Prohibition Gangsters

Al Capone in a news paper clipping on the side of a bottle.
The notorious Al Capone

In 1927 Al Capone alone sold over $60 million worth of illegal alcohol. As one of the most notorious gangsters in the city, he had a so-called ‘reign’ over the city for 7 years before being arrested and sent to jail.

18. The Chicago Beaches

Chicago skyline view from the North Avenue Beach.
North Avenue Beach, perfect for a break

With 28 miles of completely man-made shoreline, Chicago is one of the only major cities in America to have a beach. Over 24 beaches sit along its shores, with the North Avenue Beach being one of the most popular choices in the city. 

19. A craving for one particular food

One of Chicago's 2,000 hot dog stands.
Come and try one (or two) of Chicago’s many hot dog stands

There are over 2,000 hot dog stands in the city of Chicago. More than all of the city’s fast-food chain outlets combined.

20. Business. Accommodated.

A silverDoor serviced apartment over looking the city of Chicago.
Arkadia Apartments

SilverDoor has hundreds of fantastic serviced apartments across the city, perfect for all types of business travel.  With many fantastic apartments to choose from our guests have found relaxing in a serviced apartment takes the stress right out of travelling.

In addition to these incredible facts, there is much more to discover about Chicago while travelling on business. To begin your trip, read about our selection of the best-furnished apartments in the city.