The Taste of Chicago, the world's largest food festival and the largest festival in Chicago, is held annually for two weeks in Grant Park starting the last week of June. Foods are prepared by Chicago's most popular restaurants and events include multiple stages with live music on each of them. There are family oriented and international pavilions and film performance nightly. Musical acts are provided by popular, nationally known performers and are free of charge. July 3rd is the most heavily attended day and the highlight is watching the Independence Day Eve fireworks display . This fireworks display is impressive and one of the most highly ranked in the whole USA.
In order to purchase food, you have to purchase "taste tickets." Taste tickets are then exchanged for food. The popularity of "The Taste of Chicago" has spawned mulitple "Taste of....Celebrations." around the country. Fourht of July Eve Festivities kick off beginning at 7:30 pm, as the 85th Army Band will dazzle the audience with their harmonious sound. at the Petrillo Music Shell, with the fireworks display beginning at 9:00 p.m.
Beginning at 7:30 pm, the 85th Army Band will dazzle the audience with their harmonious sound.
"Chicago is the largest city in the state of Illinois, the largest in the Midwest, and, with a population of nearly 3 million people located almost entirely in Cook County (a portion of the city's O'Hare International Airport overlaps into DuPage County), is the third-most populous city in the United States. The Chicago metropolitan area (commonly referred to as Chicagoland) has a population of over 9.7 million people in Illinois, Wisconsin and Indiana, making it also the third largest metropolitan area in the U.S. Adjacent to Lake Michigan, it is the largest city located on the Great Lakes and among the world's twenty-five largest urban areas by population. Chicago has been classified as an alpha world city for its worldwide economic and cultural influence.
Incorporated as a city in 1837 after being founded in 1833 at the site of a portage between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River watershed, it soon became a major transportation hub in North America and quickly became the business and financial capital of the American Midwest. Since the Chicago World's Fair of 1893, it has been regarded as one of the ten most influential cities in the world. Among the field's where its influence has been seen are physics where Chicago Pile-1 served as the world's first artificial nuclear reactor and architecture where it has contributed Chicago school architecture and it boast some of the world's tallest buildings (Sears Tower, Aon Center, and Hancock Center) and some of the tallest skyscrapers under construction (Chicago Spire and Trump International Hotel and Tower). The University of Chicago is a leader in many fields and has contributed its own Chicago schools such as Chicago school economics.
Today, Chicago boasts a rich diversity of cultural offerings: teams from each of the major league sports (Bears, Blackhawks, Bulls, Cubs, and White Sox), a financial district anchored by the Chicago Mercantile Exchange located at the foot of LaSalle Street in the Chicago Board of Trade Building, the shopping of the Magnificent Mile, a blossoming Theatre district, a thriving arts culture anchored by the Art Institute of Chicago and bolstered by the modern offerings of the Millennium Park and a unique cuisine that has brought the world Chicago-style pizza. Noted among Chicago Landmarks are Wrigley Field, and Buckingham Fountain. The Magnificent Mile is a fitting tribute for a city that has revolutionized retail merchandising with Aaron Montgomery Ward perfecting mail order catalogs and Marshall Field inventing the money-back guarantee, bridal registry and being the first to use posted prices on goods.
Chicago is served by two major international airports, Chicago Midway International Airport and O'Hare International Airport (the world's second busiest in terms of passengers) as well as the internationally recognized Chicago 'L' system of heavy rail rapid transit. Chicago was once the capital of the railroad industry and the nation's meatpacking was hubbed at the Union Stock Yards. Chicago has seen the illegal corruption of Al Capone and has a history of Chicago-style politics which goes back to getting Abraham Lincoln nominated for to be United States President at the Wigwam and continued through the Cook County Democratic Organization run by Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley. More recent Democrats from Cook County include the first African-American female United States Senator, Carol Mosley-Braun, and the first leading African-American United States Presidential contender, Senator Barack Obama.
Chicago attracted a combined 44.17 million people in 2006 from around the nation and abroad. Upscale shopping along the Magnificent Mile, thousands of restaurants, as well as Chicago's eminent architecture, continue to draw tourists. The city is the United States' third-largest convention destination. Most conventions are held at McCormick Place, just south of Soldier Field.
Navy Pier, 3,000 feet (900 m) long, houses retail, restaurants, museums, exhibition halls, and auditoriums. Its 150-foot (46 m) tall Ferris wheel is north of Grant Park on the lakefront and is one of the most visited landmarks in the Midwest, attracting about 8 million people annually.
The historic Chicago Cultural Center (1897), originally serving as the Chicago Public Library, now houses the city's Visitor Information Center, galleries, and exhibit halls. The ceiling of Preston Bradley Hall includes a 38-foot (11 m) Tiffany glass dome.
Millennium Park, initially slated to be unveiled at the turn of the 21st century, and delayed for several years, sits on a deck built over a portion of the former Illinois Central rail yard. The park includes the reflective Cloud Gate sculpture (known locally as "The Bean"). A Millennium Park restaurant outdoor transforms into an ice rink in the winter. Two tall glass sculptures make up the Crown Fountain. The fountain's two towers display visual effects from LED images of Chicagoans' faces, with water spouting from their lips. Frank Gehry's detailed stainless steel band shell, Pritzker Pavilion, hosts the classical Grant Park Music Festival concert series. Behind the pavilion's stage is the Harris Theater for Music and Dance, an indoor venue for mid-sized performing arts companies, including Chicago Opera Theater and Music of the Baroque.
In 1998, the city officially opened the Museum Campus, a 10-acre (4-ha) lakefront park surrounding three of the city's main museums: the Adler Planetarium, the Field Museum of Natural History, and the Shedd Aquarium. The Museum Campus joins the southern section of Grant Park which includes the renowned Art Institute of Chicago. Buckingham Fountain anchors the downtown park along the lakefront. During the summer of 2007, Grant Park hosts the public art exhibit, Cool Globes: Hot Ideas for a Cooler Planet.
The Oriental Institute, part of the University of Chicago, has an extensive collection of ancient Egyptian and Near Eastern archaeological artifacts. Other museums and galleries in Chicago are the Chicago History Museum, DuSable Museum of African-American History, Museum of Contemporary Art, the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, and the Polish Museum of America.
Numerous Forest Preserves scattered around the Chicago area, along with the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore in neighboring Northwest Indiana, provide additional recreational opportunities.
Chicago can lay claim to a number of regional food specialties, all of which reflect the city's ethnic and working class roots. Included among these are its nationally renowned deep-dish pizza, although locally the Chicago thin crust is also equally popular; the Chicago-style hot dog, typically a Vienna Beef dog loaded with an array of fixings that often includes Chicago's own neon green pickle relish, yellow mustard, pickled sport peppers, tomato wedges, dill pickle spear and topped off with celery salt (ketchup on a Chicago hot dog is typically frowned upon). There are two other distinctly Chicago sandwiches that can be found at eateries throughout the area: The Italian beef sandwich, which is thinly sliced beef slowly simmered in an au jus served on an Italian roll with sweet peppers or spicy giardiniera; and the Maxwell Street Polish, which is a kielbasa — typically from either the Vienna Beef Company or the Bobak Sausage Company — on a hot dog roll, topped with grilled onions, yellow mustard and the optional sport peppers.
Chicago's standing in the culinary world is not limited to 'street food', however. Featuring a number of celebrity chefs — a list which includes Charlie Trotter, Rick Tramonto, Jean Joho, Grant Achatz, and Rick Bayless, Chicago has in recent decades developed into one of the world's premiere restaurant cities.
The grand tour of Chicago cuisine culminates annually in Grant Park at the Taste of Chicago, a festival that runs from the final week of June through Fourth of July weekend. 'The Taste', as it is abbreviated by locals, showcases Chicago's ethnic dining diversity as well as all the locally favorite stalwarts (see above). Booths representing myriad local eateries form the centerpiece of the city's largest festival, which draws millions each summer to sample the cuisine, while enjoying free concerts and fireworks."