Chicago's Lakefront with Geoffrey Baer

Chicago's Lakefront: Then and Now and More

Chicago's Lakefront – A Timeline

1673: Marquette and Joliet are first non-native people to see future site of Chicago
1833: Incorporated as a town
1837: Chicago Incorporated as a city
1862: Camp Douglass: Prison for Confederate Soldiers
1869: Water Tower built
1871: Great Chicago Fire
1893: Chicago Harbor Lighthouse built
1893: World's Columbian Exposition
1907: First Nobel Winner in Science (University of Chicago)
1909: Burnham Plan published
1924: Grant Park Stadium (Soldier Field) built
1927: Buckingham Fountain built
1930: Shedd Aquarium opens
1930: Adler Planetarium opens
1933: Century of Progress opens
1933: Museum of Science of Industry opens
1942: First controlled nuclear reaction (University of Chicago)
1959: Queen Elizabeth visits/Opening of St. Lawrence Seaway
1967: McCormick Place fire
1968: Democratic National Convention
1977: First running of the Chicago Marathon
1986: Lakeshore Drive S-Curve straightened
1999: Notebaert Nature Museum opens
2003: Meigs Field closed
2004: Millennium Park opens
2008: Barack Obama's Election Celebration in Grant Park

Chicago is unique among the world's great waterfront cities because almost its entire lakeshore is public land – it belongs to all of us. But we didn't get it without a fight! The story of Chicago's Lakefront spans 10,000 years, from the formation of Lake Michigan at the end of the last ice age to the conquest of that lake and its shoreline by frontier fortune-hunters. It's a story of scoundrels who scarred the landscape for personal gain, and heroes who fought selfless (and thankless) battles to win back the lakefront for the public.

Highlights from the Show

  • The story of the Illinois Central Railroad which simultaneously saved and destroyed the lakefront.
  • The most unusual collection of relics on any lakefront in the world: A WWII German Sub (at the Museum of Science and Industry), the world's largest and most complete TRex (at the Field Museum), dolphins and whales and squid, oh my! (at Shedd Aquarium), and a virtual reality joy ride to the ends of the universe (at Adler Planetarium).
  • The Chicago Air and Water Show.
  • The 1933 "Century of Progress" World's Fair
  • Buckingham Fountain
  • The Magnificent Mile
  • The old Water Tower and Water Works (now home to Lookingglass Theatre Company)
  • Oak Street Beach
  • The Gold Coast
  • Lincoln Park Zoo
  • Lake Shore Drive

What's New on the Lakefront

  • The making of Millennium Park
  • Mayor Daley's midnight raid on Meigs Field, and the park that is emerging in its place
  • The controversial redesign of Soldier Field
  • A new wave of interest in the 1893 World's Fair with the publication of the best seller The Devil in the White City
  • Dramatic improvements to Burnham Park
  • Yet another new addition to McCormick Place
  • Massive new residential neighborhoods that have exploded south of the Loop and at the mouth of the Chicago River including Santiago Calatrava's "Chicago Spire" – planned to be the tallest building in North America if it is completed, and the wavy "Aqua" tower by Jeanne Gang – the tallest building in the world by a female architect
  • Chicago's plans to host the 2016 Olympic Games
  • The dramatic rebirth of Chicago's legendary Blackstone Hotel, where the term "smoke-filled room" was coined
  • The ultra-modern Spertus Institute along the stately Michigan Avenue Streetwall landmark district
  • The new Modern Wing at the Art Institute by acclaimed architect Renzo Piano
  • Another battle over a building in Grant Park, the planned Chicago Children's Museum
  • Growing environmental threats to Lake Michigan, including dropping water levels, invasive species, and questions about water quality
  • The bittersweet story of the ruin and rebirth of architect Alfred Caldwell's breathtaking Lily Pool near Lincoln Park Zoo
  • Barack Obama's victory celebration

Chicago's Lakefront
Camp Douglass

Chicago's Lakefront
Chicago Harbor Lighthouse

Chicago's Lakefront
Daniel Burnham

Chicago's Lakefront
Shedd Aquarium

Chicago's Lakefront
Queen Elizabeth

Chicago's Lakefront
Lakeshore Drive S-Curve

Chicago's Lakefront
Millennium Park

Chicago's Lakefront
Obama Victory in Grant Park

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