Most of these sights are either on the Magnificent Mile (North Michigan Ave.) and its surrounding blocks or close by on the Near North Side.
A River Runs Through It
The Chicago River remains one of the most visible of the city's major physical features. It's spanned by more movable bridges within the city limits (52 at last count) than any other city in the world. An almost-mystical moment occurs downtown when all the bridges spanning the main and south branches -- connecting the Loop to both the Near West Side and the Near North Side -- are raised, allowing for the passage of some ship, barge, or contingent of high-masted sailboats. The Chicago River has long outlived the critical commercial function that it once performed. Most of the remaining millworks that occupy its banks no longer depend on the river alone for the transport of their materials, raw and finished.
The river's main function today is to serve as a fluvial conduit for sewage, which, owing to an engineering feat that reversed its flow inland in 1900, no longer pollutes the waters of Lake Michigan. Recently, Chicagoans have begun to discover other roles for the river, including water cruises, park areas, cafes, public art installations, and a riverside bike path that connects to the lakefront route near Wacker Drive. Actually, today's developers aren't the first to wonder why the river couldn't be Chicago's Seine. A look at the early-20th-century Beaux Arts balustrades lining the river along Wacker Drive, complete with comfortably spaced benches and Parisian-style bridge houses, shows that Chicago architect and urban planner Daniel Burnham knew full well what a treasure the city had.
Rock Around the World
The impressive Gothic Tribune Tower, just north of the Chicago River on the east side of Michigan Avenue, is home to the Chicago Tribune newspaper. It's also notable for an array of architectural fragments jutting out from the exterior. The newspaper's notoriously despotic publisher, Robert R. McCormick, started the collection shortly after the building's completion in 1925, gathering pieces during his world travels. Tribune correspondents then began supplying building fragments that they acquired on assignment. Each one now bears the name of the structure and the country from whence it came. There are 138 pieces in all, including chunks and shards from the Great Wall of China; the Taj Mahal; the White House; the Arc de Triomphe; the Berlin Wall; the Roman Colosseum; London's Houses of Parliament; the Great Pyramid of Cheops in Giza, Egypt; and the original tomb of Abraham Lincoln in Springfield, Illinois.
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