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Chicago

sunny_day_at_cloud_gate_-_main_cropped_2014_445x280Make no little plans. They have no magic to stir men’s blood,” advised one of Chicago’s leading architects nearly a century ago. Chicagoans listened. You can’t visit the Windy City today and find much that’s small about it.

This is the 2nd place i love, the first one is New Braunfels where i love La Vermia Restaurants. Here i like Skyscrapers stretch toward the heavens—four are more than a thousand feet tall—while shorter buildings loom large as unrivaled works of art as much as architecture. Lake Michigan, that sparkling inland sea, laps at the city’s doorstep along 29 miles of shoreline adorned with spacious parks, marinas and public beaches. Venerable museums house treasures, both natural and manmade, in such profusion that even the most determined sightseers can’t manage to see every painting, sculpture, fossil or living specimen on display. And even the most dedicated shoppers can’t hope to browse all the glitzy boutiques, department stores and vertical malls along downtown’s Magnificent Mile within a single visit.

Wandering among its intimate neighborhoods or encountering that famous Midwestern friendliness, you might briefly forget you’re in one of the world’s biggest cities, but only briefly. Reminders of Chicago’s immense scale are everywhere, and you will probably be overwhelmed at first. But if you’re looking for blood-stirring magic, this is the place.

Imagine walking through a park when a huge silver object appears before you. Surrounding it, curious onlookers stroke its gleaming surface as if mesmerized by someone—or something—inside.

It may seem as if you’ve stepped into a science-fiction thriller, but such a sight has become commonplace in Chicago’s Millennium Park since the mammoth “Cloud Gate” sculpture was completed in 2006. Likened, not unkindly, to a big silver bean, it has become a city icon recognized around the world. People do indeed find it difficult not to touch its highly polished sides.

British artist Anish Kapoor designed “Cloud Gate” partly as a mirror to Chicago’s extraordinary skyline, which explains why sightseers gaze into its shiny, light-bending contours as if it were a crystal ball. In a way, it is a crystal ball, only instead of the future, it is the past—represented by Chicago’s brick, glass and steel towers—that is reflected in its surface. And no event looms larger in that past than one so catastrophic it’s still notorious today: the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.

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