ARCHIVES / Chicago 2007
Getting Around Chicago
The Fairmont Hotel is located at 200 North Columbus Drive, 2 blocks east of Michigan Avenue between Randolph and Lake Streets.
Els, buses, trolleys, taxis, and your own two feet make getting around Chicago easy. The el and bus cost $2 per trip if you pay cash; a standard travel card gives you a $0.25 discount. See the fare information page at http://www.yourcta.com/maps/fares.html. Buses require exact change. For the el, as in other cities, you must purchase a travel card at a machine in the station. Your best bet may well be a “Chicago Card.”
For details about the el and bus lines and about travel card options, see the CTA site http://www.yourcta.com/ (which also offers information on the Pace suburban bus lines). This site also provides a handy trip-planner feature http://tripsweb.rtachicago.com/ that helps you figure out which els or buses to take to get from here to there and back. You can also order travel cards online at http://www3.yourcta.com/Default.asp?cookie%5Ftest=1
Taxis are everywhere. Expensive, yes, but handy when you need them. Hail them with the classic wave.
Trolleys run during the summer months. Their range is limited, but they’re fun for the short hauls. Go to http://www.tylin.com/chicago/tma/ for more information. The City of Chicago also runs free trolleys; go to Chicago trolleys for the schedule and maps.
Metra Commuter trains (http://www.metrarail.com/) help you get to Chicago’s suburbs (as far away as Wisconsin, Indiana, and Michigan!) and back. The Metra Electric line, which leaves from Millennium Park Station a block from the hotel (http://metrarail.com/Sched/me/me.shtml), is also a good way to get to Hyde Park (University of Chicago). About ten train lines leave from four or five stations. See the Metra pages for train lines, schedules, and fare information.
A Salute to the Grid System
With a few exceptions, Chicago streets are laid out on a simple grid system, making it extra easy to figure out where you are in relation to where you want to go. Street numbers north, south, east, and west all start at the corner of State and Madison, outside the landmark Louis Sullivan building that used to house the Carson Pirie Scott department store. A mile is approximately equivalent to eight blocks.
While the South Side includes many numbered streets, the streets on the north and west side are all named.
It helps to remember that Lake Michigan is always East.
One of the many cities of which it can be said, “If you don’t like our weather, wait a minute,” Chicago in the summer can be hot and sticky. The average high temperature for the end of August is low- to mid-80s. But it’s always cooler by the Lake.
Basic Tourism Information
See Toddlin’ Town (page TK), the SAA website, or the Fairmont’s handy concierge site at http://concierge.fairmont.com/location.process/OID_35/OLID_8854/ , which offers suggestions, directions, and factoids. For lots of useful info, go to the City of Chicago's Exploring Chicago pages. For listings and reviews of events, theaters and movies, and restaurants, see also the online version of Chicago’s historic free weekly, the Chicago Reader (http://www.chicagoreader.com/) or the Tribune’s Metromix http://metromix.chicagotribune.com/
The gorgeous Cultural Center (formerly the main Chicago Public Library) now houses Chicago’s official Visitor’s Center. It’s just three blocks from the Fairmont at 78 West Washington Street (corner of Washington and Michigan), and it also offers exhibits and other events, a café, and a great gift shop. (Mon-Thurs, 8:00 am – 7:00 pm; Fri, 8:00 am - 6:00 pm, Sat 9:00 am – 6:00 pm, Sun 10:00 am – 6:00 pm; 312-744-6630).