Chicago Regional Engagement
Chicago, and the surrounding area, is home to over 400 alums. Use the links below to connect with your local ‘Cats!
Have an idea for a program or event? Looking for a way to get involved? Want to get an update on what’s happening in the region? Contact your leaders below!
A Crowd-Sourced Guide to Chicago
- Chicago is home to the world’s only backwards-flowing river. In the largest public earth-moving project ever completed, in 1900 the Chicago River was engineered to flow backwards! This incredible achievement has a very practical purpose: to divert sewage away from Lake Michigan’s freshwater supply.
- It may not be the tallest building in Chicago but the 82-storey Aqua is the tallest structure in the world to be designed by a woman, architect Jeanne Gang. According to the architect, its outstretched balconies reference the limestone outcrop features commonly found in the great lakes region — and serve the practical purpose of creating excellent views for residents!
- You can thank Chicago for the brownie. Bertha Palmer, wife of millionaire hotelier Potter Palmer, cooked up the fudgy squares for the first time at Chicago’s Palmer House, just in time for their debut at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition. And this is only one of Chicago’s famous foods.
- The first televised presidential debate–thought to have helped John F. Kennedy to win the 1960 election over Richard Nixon–was broadcast from Chicago’s CBS Studios.
What We Wished We'd Known: Advice for Alumni New to the City
- You probably don’t need a car unless you plan on traveling to the suburbs a lot. Public transportation is very convenient and clean. Many CTA fares require exact change. Get a Ventra card.
- Wrigley Field is much more pleasant July - September.
- Be prepared for any kind of weather—like a snowstorm on Easter. There is no bad weather; just bad clothing. Buy a big coat and snow boots—they are DEFINITELY worth the investment. Bring a change of shoes to the office.
- Navy Pier is a tourist trap; be advised.
- Shop Michigan Ave in the late morning.
- Use Google maps when venturing down to lower Wacker. It’s a labyrinth down there.
- Chicago deep dish and Chicago dogs are a must try.
- Chicago has far more to it than just the Loop! Lincoln Park and Lakeview have excellent restaurants and bars with a great combo of city and neighborhood feel.
- Stay safe, and always be aware of your surroundings. Learn the grid of the city, the main streets and their numbers. It’s easier to get around and know where places are.
Must-Do Activities in Chicago
- Get outside: Visit Millennium Park and attend a free concert at Pritzker Pavilion. Bike the 18-mile long Chicago lakefront trail, or explore all the other paths and trails. Go to Lincoln Park Zoo. See Movies in the Park. Visit the Garfield Park Conservatory. Go to the Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe.
- Enjoy being close to water: Take the Chicago Architecture Boat Tour. Rent a kayak on the Chicago River. Learn to sail and then join a crew for races in the summer. Enjoy beach time during the day and night. Enjoy the free Navy Pier Fireworks! Take a Chicago Riverboat tour.
- Cheer on Chicago Sports: The Cubs at Wrigley Field. The White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field. The Bulls and the Blackhawks at the United Center. The Bears and Chicago Fire FC at Soldier Field. Chicago Sky at Wintrust Arena. Chicago Red Stars at SeatGeek Stadium. Play summer organized sports through the Chicago Sport and Social Club.
- Soak up the art and history: Visit the Chicago History Museum. Visit the Art Institute of Chicago. Go to a concert at Wrigley Field. Attend the Grant Park Music Festival. Check out the Chicago Air and Water Show. Visit the Old Town School of Folk Music. See improv and sketch comedy at Second City or iO. Check out the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio in Oak Park. See a Broadway show at the Cadillac Palace Theatre.
- Experience the culture of the city: Attend summer street festivals. Eat everything on Randolph Street. Go around the city taking photos with a friend and enjoy whatever food/culture/sight is located there. Go to the Shedd Aquarium. Eat deep dish pizza as much as possible. Do a free brewery tour at Revolution or Half Acre. Go to the Old Town Arts Fair, Taste of Randolph Festivals, and Taste of Chicago. Check out Chinatown and Greektown.