A trip to Chicago to spot all the best addresses
Chicago has been out of favour for many years, but more to the point, it's just not that well known.
The famous names it conjures up - Al Capone, Frank Nitty or John Dilliger – have an unsettling, even disturbing charm, they're exciting but these days nothing more than myth. A John Lee Hooker or Muddy Waters Blues soundtrack that lingers in the city's jazz clubs.
Chicago has been an architects' playground since the great fire of 1871 which ravaged the city and its buildings. The first skyscrapers were drawn up by Mies Van der Rohe, Frank Lyod Wright, Louis Sullivan and Daniel Brunham.
It's not worth having your hair set here, the Windy City lives up to its moniker, blowing night and day along the avenues. It's a fresh wind and a decadent rhythm that blows across the States: the city is more arty than Brooklyn, has more culture than San Fran and more going on architecturally than anywhere.
Take the time to see and try everything: the banks of Lake Michigan, the Art Institute, the Loop, Millennium Park. Don't forget to keep looking up at the skyline or check it out from afar, perched on a hip rooftop, cocktail in hand. Here's a district by district overview of our adventures and unusual encounters.
Everything to the west of Loop, the famous aerial metro line, has become the hip district of the city. The new arrivals have colonised this former meatpacking and warehouse district with enough lofts, artists' studios, galleries, restaurants and bars to make your head spin. Here's our selection.
Chicago's most cutting edge district in the making, and already a great night spot. Logan Square is a bus terminal as you come out of the metro. Complete with church, old Victorian houses and a bold theatre sign with the name of the neighbourhood. Preserved but also in the throes of a transformation, the neighbourhood is pumping in the evenings to the sound of the hundreds of bars. The daytime sees hipsters in search of the perfect coffee roasting house and art gallery.
Afficianados have known about this place since the tail end of the 90s, for its specialized second-hand book shops and art galleries but it's really been enjoying its hour of glory in recent years with the transformation of the abandoned railway into green cycle lane and new cool hipster hangouts. A little visit to our favourites.
Take a Divvy bike to the North of the city to discover the hidden hangouts in this little corner of paradise. Go via the beach to show off your bikini or via the park, beer in hand and sound system on the handlebars.
Take one of the packed bridges that crosses the Chicago River, amongst the most creative skyscrapers of the city, to discover River North. It's swankier around here, with a mix of art galleries, museums and boutiques where the Amish come to hang out at the weekend, a curious and amusing contrast with the urban landscape, time momentarily stands still.