Discovering hidden Chicago places - Metropolitan Planning Council

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Discovering hidden Chicago places

This post was written by Aleece Smith, MPC research assistant.

Lincoln Park has its gangster-era haunts, Uptown has the Aragon and The Green Mill, the Magnificent Mile has all that shopping, and the Loop has, well, it’s the Loop.  But wait!  You missed so much!  Your trip to Chicago is not yet complete!  For those in the dark about the kind of experience Chicago’s other neighborhoods are able to offer visitors, LISC Chicago and the Chicago Dept. of Tourism have partnered to produce Community Showcase Tours, a collection of photos, maps, and video and audio tours intended to draw interest to some of the city’s off-the-beaten-path neighborhoods. 

The project makes the places in each neighborhood accessible to both out-of-towners and “staycationers” by highlighting cultural hotspots, landmark buildings, tranquil oases, and other points of pride reflecting the personality of their respective neighborhoods.  Knowing that the only way to find Garifuna cuisine in Chicago is to make a trip to Chicago Lawn is way less daunting than a directive to “go check out” this south side neighborhood with so much to offer.  The same goes for Albany Park where you can learn about and enjoy wildlife, wetlands, prairie, and savannah in a (relatively) huge nature preserve instead of calling it a day after you’ve found former Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s Ravenswood Manor residence.

These tours were created by people from the neighborhood who are describing the places that have, for them, grown to be synonymous with “home.”  These places help illustrate a slice of life that isn’t seen downtown.  That means when you visit, say, the National Museum of Mexican Art, you will also have an idea of the spots that make 18th Street so vibrant. 

Go ahead and visit the site.  Even if you can’t make it out to these Chicago gems right away, the video and pictures will surely whet your appetite for a local excursion. 

The neighborhoods featured in the Community Showcase Tours are just a few of the many examples of low-profile spots just waiting to be discovered as a next great place!  If the neighborhoods the site highlights skipped over one of your favorite Chicago places, let us know about it!  Nominate your favorite place in MPC’s What Makes Your Place Great? contest so Chicagoland can know why it’s worth the trip!


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