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Travel Tips for Chicago History: 7 Places to Visit for History Buffs on Vacation

Image: Travel Tips for Chicago History: 7 Places to Visit for History Buffs on Vacation
Chicago History Museum. (wikimedia/commons)

By    |   Sunday, 18 Jan 2015 11:00 AM

Chicago is one of the country's oldest and most interesting big cities. Here are 7 travel tips for history buffs hoping to enjoy the sites and discover how the city was born and why it has played an important role in the story of the United States.

1. Start at the Chicago History Museum: A stop here will give the history lover an overview of Chicago history and a variety of American history topics. The museum’s permanent exhibit explores Chicago as the "Crossroads of America."

The museum includes railroad history, the evolution of the "L," and how Chicago survived and grew through its historical challenges. Travel tips: Make sure you check out the variety of temporary exhibits.

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2. Find the remnants of the White City: The Chicago World’s Fair, known as the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893, brought in more than 27 million visitors over its six-month existence.

The famed White City buildings from the fair are mostly gone, but can be imagined by visiting the Museum of Science and Industry. It is the largest remaining building from the fair and the only major building still standing. The building was the Palace of Fine Arts during the fair.

3. Learn about the importance of the Hull-House: The Jane Addams Hull-House Museum tells the story of social justice and charity one woman envisioned and made a reality for immigrants hoping to make Chicago their new home. This site is where history buffs can explore how the one woman’s vision changed the future of American social reforms.

4. Visit the start of Route 66: The Mother Road started in Chicago on Michigan Avenue. In front of the Art Institute of Chicago, history buffs interested in seeing where the great 20th century adventure of open road began can literally look for the sign that says "begin."
Travel tip for enjoying this point of history: To enjoy the entire stretch of Route 66 in Illinois, plan on driving about 300 miles.

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5. Experience the river that was reversed: The McCormick Bridegehouse & Chicago River Museum is the perfect spot to learn a bit more about the engineering feat of 1900 in which Chicagoans actually reversed the flow of their river. Sewage concerns led to the need to create such a dramatic change of course. Visitors here will actually get to experience a historic bridge.

Travel tips for this site include planning on a climb: A five-story ascent to the top of the bridgehouse allows visitors to enjoy a great view of the city.

6. Explore the maritime history of Chicago: The Grosse Pointe Lighthouse, built in 1873, answered a need on the north side of the city to prevent shipwrecks. It served the growing city until the 1930s. The facility is free. Travel tips: Check the schedule before you go. Tours are only available seasonally.

7. Visit the site of the first self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction: Chicago ushered in the atomic age in 1942 at the University of Chicago. A Henry Moore sculpture marks the spot between 56th and 57th streets on Ellis Avenue.

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Chicago is one of the country's oldest and most interesting big cities. Here are 7 travel tips for history buffs hoping to enjoy the sites and discover how the city was born and why it has played an important role in the story of the United States.
travel tips, chicago, history, buffs, vacation, visitors
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