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Beyond Chicago from the Air

Beyond Chicago from the Air

Beyond text Chicago text From The text Air text

Imagine if you could soar and swoop high above dazzling fall foliage, towering sand dunes, the vast expanse of Lake Michigan, imposing skyscrapers, and spectacular state parks around Chicago and the Midwest. WTTW's Geoffrey Baer takes to the skies again to travel Beyond Chicago from the Air, sharing fun facts and fascinating history as exhilarating drone photography captures towns, parks, railroads, waterways, monuments, and more in Illinois and beyond. Read more

Geoffrey Baer

Geoffrey Baer

What You'll See from the Air


  • Mississippi River

    For 581 miles, the river follows Illinois’s western border.

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  • Mississippi Palisades State Park

    Located in northwestern Illinois, this state park features impressive views and limestone formations.

  • Hannibal, Missouri

    Mark Twain’s hometown is located just across the river from Illinois.

  • Great River Road

    This road follows the Mississippi River across 10 states.

  • Alton, Illinois

    This town was the stage for the final debate between senate-hopeful Abraham Lincoln and Senator Stephen A. Douglas

  • Elijah Lovejoy Monument

    A monument in Alton honors an abolitionist who was killed by a pro-slavery mob.

  • Lewis and Clark Confluence Tower

    This tower overlooks the point where the country’s two longest rivers meet.

  • Illinois and Michigan Canal

    Completed in 1848, this canal once connected the Chicago River in Bridgeport with the Illinois River in LaSalle, Illinois, ultimately connecting the Great Lakes to the Mississippi River.

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  • Lockport Lock and Dam

    This lock and dam used to have hydroelectric generators that supplied some electricity to Chicago’s parks.

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  • Joliet

    Water traffic along the Des Plaines River keeps the town’s moveable bridges busy.

  • Old Joliet Prison

    This infamous prison closed in 2002, but it is immortalized in several television shows and films, including The Blues Brothers.

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  • Naperville Riverwalk

    A 1.75-mile path follows the banks of the DuPage River.

  • Centennial Beach

    Located on the Naperville Riverwalk, Centennial Beach sits on a lake that was once a quarry.

  • Chain o' Lakes

    Every summer, weekly drag boat races bring adventure to Chain o’ Lakes.

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  • Norge Ski Club

    A group of Norwegian men founded this club in 1905, complete with a towering ski jump.

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The Land

  • Galena

    Originally founded as a lead-mining town, Galena was restored in the 1970s and is now a National Register Historic District.

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  • Apple River Fort

    This is a replica of the fort that Sauk warrior Black Hawk and 200 of his followers attacked during the Black Hawk War.

  • Black Hawk Battlefield Park

    This park marks the location of the last battle fought in Illinois during the Black Hawk War.

  • Black Hawk Statue

    Lorado Taft originally designed this statue as a tribute to Native American tribes in Illinois, but it has long been associated specifically with Black Hawk.

  • Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site

    Long before Chicago was incorporated, this was once the site of a Native American city that was larger than London at the time.

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  • Starved Rock State Park

    This state park near Utica gets its name from a Native American legend.

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  • Sagawau Canyon

    In an otherwise flat landscape, this is the only natural canyon in Cook County.

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  • Bemis Woods

    Part of the Cook County Forest Preserves, this forest includes a zip-lining attraction.

  • Morton Arboretum

    This 1,700-acre outdoor museum of trees is located in Lisle, Illinois.

  • Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie

    This became the first national tallgrass prairie in 1996 after years as the location of the Joliet Army Ammunition Plant.

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  • Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery

    Members of the armed forces who meet a minimum active duty requirement may be buried at this cemetery near Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie.

  • Streator Cayuga Ridge Windfarm

    In Illinois, wind energy generates 11 percent of the state’s electricity.

  • Indiana Dunes National Park

    Some 15,000 acres of preserved lakeshore was officially named a national park in 2019.

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The Landscape Reshaped

  • Oak Woods Cemetery

    Many prominent African Americans are buried at this South Side cemetery.

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  • Graceland Cemetery

    Several famous architects are buried at this cemetery, which was once considered “rural.”

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  • Illinois Railway Museum

    This sprawling museum in Union, Illinois preserves 450 pieces of railroad and other transit equipment.

  • Chicago and Northwestern Railway Bridge

    Close to the Merchandise Mart, this bridge is near the location of Chicago’s first railroad.

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  • Blue Island Rail Interchange

    Several railroads converge south of Chicago where five bridges cross the Calumet-Saganashkee Channel.

  • Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy Railroad Roundhouse

    Now a brewpub, this roundhouse dates back to 1856 and was the spot where steam engines were maintained and turned around for their return trips.

  • Ravinia

    The Chicago and Milwaukee Electric Railroad originally built Ravinia as an amusement park in 1904.

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  • Edith Farnsworth House

    Ludwig Mies van der Rohe designed the minimalist glass and steel house for Dr. Edith Farnsworth.

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  • Kirsch House

    This Oak Park house was designed for energy efficiency decades before climate change was in the headlines.

  • Fabyan Windmill

    Colonel George Fabyan had his quirks and loved bread so much that he bought a windmill and had it moved to his Batavia estate to make fresh-milled flour.

  • RavenStone Castle

    A Harvard, Illinois family built this bed and breakfast themselves and designed it to look like a sixteenth-century castle.

  • Tempel Farms

    This horse farm is home to a special breed of performing horses known as Lipizzans.

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  • Barrington Hills Polo Club

    The only accredited polo school in the Chicago area is in Barrington.

  • Medinah Country Club

    The Shriners founded this private club and built a clubhouse in Byzantine style.

  • Joe Louis "The Champ" Golf Course

    Named for the heavyweight champion who also championed diversity in golf, this golf course is the home of the second-oldest Black women’s golf club in the nation.

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  • Soldier Field

    The Bears’ home field was the site of one of the most famous boxing matches of all time between Gene Tunney and aging former champ Jack Dempsey.

  • Millennium Park

    Every summer, the park holds a free outdoor film series, along with a free concert series.

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  • North Avenue Beach

    During the summer, this popular North Side beach is always packed with beachgoers and volleyball players.

  • Race to Mackinac Island

    Every year, sailboats set out on the world’s oldest and longest freshwater sailboat race.

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Lead support for Beyond Chicago from the Air is provided by The Negaunee Foundation. Lead corporate support is provided by BMO Harris Bank.


Additional support is provided by Donna Van Eekeren, ITW, Heritage Corridor CVB, Carl Buddig and Company, The Joseph & Bessie Feinberg Foundation, Judy and John McCarter, the Mollenhauer Progressive Philanthropic Fund in honor of Ida Mollenhauer, Ken Norgan, Mark and Lisa Pinsky, Joan and Paul Rubschlager, and Chris and Priya Valenti.