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  • Oak Park, Illinois
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    Oak Park,

    Illinois

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    Oak Park is a village in Cook County, Illinois adjacent to Chicago. It is the 29th-most populous municipality in Illinois with a population of 51,878 as of the 2010 U.S. Census estimate. Oak Park was first settled in 1835 and later incorporated in 1902, when it separated from Cicero. Architect Frank Lloyd Wright and his wife settled in Oak Park in 1889, and his work heavily influenced local architecture and design, including the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio.

    Over the years, rapid development was spurred by railroads and street cars connecting the village to jobs in nearby Chicago. In 1968, Oak Park passed the Open Housing Ordinance, which helped devise strategies to integrate the village rather than resegregate.Today, Oak Park remains ethnically diverse, and is known for its socially liberal politics, with 80% or higher voter turnout in every presidential election since 2000. Oak Park is closely connected to Chicago with Chicago Transit Authority access via the Green Line and Blue Line "L" train lines including the Metra Oak Park station downtown.

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    Oak Park Articles

    Inspiration

    Chicago Is "Second City" in Search

    You probably weren't surprised to hear that the iPhone5 and Kim Kardashian made Yahoo's list of the most searched phrases of 2012. Yawn. But when Yahoo drilled down to determine the most searched city names of the year, its list did contain at least one unexpected result: Chicago came in second, right after perennial no. 1 Las Vegas and ahead of mega-destinations such as London, New York, and San Francisco. While Chicagoans may not always be fond of the nickname "Second City," in this ranking they've earned some bragging rights. In May, the city played host to the G8 and NATO summits, attracting thousands of visitors. And of course there's no discounting the fact that President and Mrs. Obama have lent a portion of their star power to their town—the president's former chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, is now the city's mayor and an enthusiastic booster for local tourism. Ready to explore Chicago? It's about a four-hour flight from Los Angeles, with fares starting under $300; flights from New York are about two to three hours, with fares starting under $200; the city is also, of course, driving distance from Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio. While you're there, don't miss these top attractions: The Art Institute of Chicago offers the third-largest visual arts collection in the U.S., including such iconic paintings as Georges Seurat's pointillist masterpiece A Sunday on La Grande Jatte and Edward Hopper's moody diner scene Nighthawks. 111 S. Michigan Ave., artic.edu, adults $18, children/students/seniors $12. Architectural landmarks are a hallmark of Chicago's downtown. The skyscraper was born here, and you can't miss the 110-story Willis Tower (commonly known by its original name, the Sears Tower) and the John Hancock Center. You should also consider a daytrip to Frank Lloyd Wright's home and studio in nearby Oak Park. 951 Chicago Ave., Oak Park, IL, gowright.org, studio and home tour $15 for adults, $12 for students and seniors; note that interior tours will be suspended for part of January and February for maintenance. Public parks in Chicago are breathtaking, and you can explore three of them via Frank Gehry's BP Pedestrian Bridge, which offers elevated views of the city's skyline as you stroll from Millennium Park (home to the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink in winter and the five-acre Lurie Garden) to Grant Park (where President Obama delivered his historic victory speech on election night in 2008) to Daley Bicentennial Plaza. Millennium Park, 201 E. Randolph St., between Michigan Ave. and Columbus Ave., explorechicago.org, admission free.

    Inspiration

    Locals Know Best: Sacramento, California

    There once was a time when Sacramento was, to put it kindly, in a rut. Locals cast their gazes longingly towards San Francisco and Oakland, epicenters of creativity and culture. Then Sacramento State graduates Maritza and Roshaun Davis had an idea: give Sacramento’s creative class an outlet for showcasing their talents and watch them—and the city—thrive. Enter: Unseen Heros, the lifestyles event production company they founded. “In 2008, Sacramento was still trying to find its identity,” says Maritza. “It’s like when you were a teenager and you were awkwardly trying to grow, Sacramento was like a teenager—with braces and awkward with its body.”  Today Sacramento has grown into its own, with no small thanks to Unseen Heroes, which oversees year-round events like  the Saturday midtown farmers market and Gather Oak Park. Both, as they put it, are “events that make people proud of what’s here.” The couple (in life and business) also own shops specializing in California-made goods and curate a rotating pop-up market where they house their offices. Since founding Unseen Heroes in 2008, they’ve made a career out of knowing every nook and cranny of Sacramento. We recently reached them to get their inside tips on where to eat, drink, stay, and hang in the city. *Spoiler alert*: “obnoxiously delicious” ice cream, a poke bar, and unbelievable happy hour deals all factor in.   TABLE FOR TWO: Oak Park is Sacrament's oldest neighborhood, but there are plenty of spots that are under the radar, like the retro-minded Arthur Henry’s, which bills itself as a Supper Club and Ruby Room. Without windows or signs, the only indication that it’s there is its red door. “If you’re in the mafia, this is where you wanna make your deals. There are a lot of dark, fun, strange elements to it,” says Maritza. “I don’t want to give too much away, but if you order dinner there, it’s going to come raw, so be prepared to cook.” They offer a beer and steak special for a remarkable $16 and a bourbon list that’s sure to impress. For every steak in Sacramento there’s a slab of grilled soy meat. Andy Nguyen has an ample variety of wholesome vegetarian and vegan meals—countless permutations of noodles, rice, tofu and vegetables. Meals are generous in size and clock in under $10. If your preferences lean south of the border, La Benbita has what Maritza deems the best margaritas, made with fresh juices. The cantina is known for its festive patio and unbeatable happy hour special: two tacos and a margarita for $13. If you’ve got a sweet tooth, you’ll have a great story to bring home after a visit to Gunther’s. The time-worn ice cream shop is an institution among locals, as evidenced by the fact that despite it being tucked away in a relatively residential area, people flock there in droves. “When you see the line out the door and down the block, you know you’re there,” said Maritza, describing the handmade ice cream and shakes as “obnoxiously delicious.” DINE OUT: Unseen Heroes curates and manages Gather, a culinary event that takes place on the second hursdays of each month from May through October. There are lots of food onsite--tacos, pizza, veggie fare from Mother (also a restaurant), and much touted donuts from Sweet Dozen Donuts (Get a lemon poppy seed donut then try everything else, advises Maritza). There are long communal tables where everyone kicks back and chows down. The rest of the year they curate Midtown Farmers’ Market, a culinary extravaganza in Midtown. Over 90 vendors hawk their wares, from beef jerky and sausages to balsamic vinegar, honey and wine. It's a go-to for a taste of the vibrant local culinary scene.   THE AFTERNOON AGENDA: Not far off the freeway sits JayJay, a gallery founded in 2000 that spotlights a roster of international artists whose work spans all media. “They have a lot of fun pieces and the owners are really hands-on and engaged,” says Maritza. “they’ve been around the area for 40-plus years and they’ve helped curate different large projects. They get their hands on cool artists and they have their finger on the pulse of young up and coming artists.” After you’ve looked at art, taste some. Head down the street to Tupelo. The couple asserts it makes the city’s finest mocha, made with Mexican chocolate. Cap off the afternoon down the street with dinner at Selland’s Market-Cafe, which is known for its elevated comfort food—salads, sandwiches, pizzas—prepared with local seasonal ingredients. At select times, two dinners and a bottle of wine clocks in at $25. Another Martiza-and-Rashaun-approved outing that’s a feast for the eyes and palate is centered in the Curtis Park, quaint with great brownstown galleries. Sol Collective is more of a community center than a gallery, but nevertheless, it’s a destination for unique shows of all media and installations by a lineup of international artists as well as pop-up shops. Additionally, Maritza and Roshaun rave about the classes offered throughout the month that anyone can drop in on: beat-making, art, and, most regularly, yoga. Fortify yourself afterwards with noodles galore at Shoki Ramen, where about $15 will get you a bowl of excellent ramen, a drink and curry on rice. As an added bonus (or, some might say, courtesy), you can order wines here by the half-glass. Wrap up the day at Gunther’s. The old fashioned ice cream shop (See above for Maritza's rave review) is a mere five blocks away.  Some people go to nature to experience a sense of place, others go shopping. Display, owned and run by Maritza and Roshaun, showcases Sacramento’s creative class with its ever-changing inventory of products made by local designers and brands, from gift items, household goods, and lots of fun stuff for kids. More recently, they opened the neighboring Damas, featuring goods and clothing for women, by women. Men have plenty of spots to shop, too, like Get a Clue, a longtime midtown retailer. They specialize in sneakers, denim, shirts, and the like, mostly by local designers. Hungry? Preservation and Co. has plenty of boutique edibles, like a house bloody mary mix, plus tons of sauces, jams and such. STAY: Modern, funky and rich in local lore, Maritza and Roshaun recommend Citizen’s Hotel, not least because  its restaurant and bar, The Grange, has a fantastic happy hour. Steps away are two super-hip spots to eat: Empress Tavern and the very lively Mother Sacramento, a vegetarian haven. Despite its brand name, the Westin Sacramento Hotel, which sits on the Sacramento River, has a lot of character. It’s a short drive away from the hubbub of downtown, and in addition to its affordability, they note that it’s nicely landscaped, so much so that locals hang out there just for the scenery. 

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    More Places to go

    DESTINATION IN Illinois

    Chicago

    Chicago ( (listen) shih-KAH-goh, locally also shih-KAW-goh;), officially the City of Chicago, is the most populous city in the U.S. state of Illinois, and the third most populous city in the United States, following New York City and Los Angeles. With a population of 2,746,388 in the 2020 census, it is also the most populous city in the Midwestern United States and the fifth most populous city in North America. Chicago is the county seat of Cook County, the second most populous county in the U.S., while a small portion of the city's O'Hare Airport also extends into DuPage County. Chicago is the principal city of the Chicago metropolitan area, defined as either the U.S. Census Bureau's metropolitan statistical area (9.6 million people) or the combined statistical area (almost 10 million residents), often called Chicagoland. It is one of the 40 largest urban areas in the world. Located on the shores of freshwater Lake Michigan, Chicago was incorporated as a city in 1837 near a portage between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River watershed and grew rapidly in the mid-19th century. After the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, which destroyed several square miles and left more than 100,000 homeless, the city rebuilt. The construction boom accelerated population growth throughout the following decades, and by 1900, less than 30 years after the great fire, Chicago was the fifth-largest city in the world. Chicago made noted contributions to urban planning and zoning standards, including new construction styles (including the Chicago School of architecture), the development of the City Beautiful Movement, and the steel-framed skyscraper.Chicago is an international hub for finance, culture, commerce, industry, education, technology, telecommunications, and transportation. It is the site of the creation of the first standardized futures contracts, issued by the Chicago Board of Trade, which today is part of the largest and most diverse derivatives market in the world, generating 20% of all volume in commodities and financial futures alone. O'Hare International Airport is routinely ranked among the world's top six busiest airports according to tracked data by the Airports Council International. The region also has the largest number of federal highways and is the nation's railroad hub. The Chicago area has one of the highest gross domestic products (GDP) in the world, generating $689 billion in 2018. The economy of Chicago is diverse, with no single industry employing more than 14% of the workforce. It is home to several Fortune 500 companies, including Allstate, Boeing, Caterpillar, Exelon, JLL, Kraft Heinz, McDonald's, Mondelez International, Sears, United Airlines Holdings, US Foods, and Walgreens. Chicago's 58 million tourist visitors in 2018 set a new record, and Chicago has been voted the best large city in the U.S. for four years in a row by Condé Nast Traveler. The city was ranked first in the 2018 Time Out City Life Index, a global urban quality of life survey of 15,000 people in 32 cities, and was rated second most beautiful city in the world (after Prague) in 2021. Landmarks in the city include Millennium Park, Navy Pier, the Magnificent Mile, the Art Institute of Chicago, Museum Campus, the Willis (Sears) Tower, Grant Park, the Museum of Science and Industry, and Lincoln Park Zoo. Chicago is also home to the Barack Obama Presidential Center being built in Hyde Park on the city's South Side. Chicago's culture includes the visual arts, literature, film, theatre, comedy (especially improvisational comedy), food, and music, particularly jazz, blues, soul, hip-hop, gospel, and electronic dance music including house music. Of the area's many colleges and universities, the University of Chicago, Northwestern University, and the University of Illinois at Chicago are classified as "highest research" doctoral universities. Chicago has professional sports teams in each of the major professional leagues, including two Major League Baseball teams.

    DESTINATION IN Illinois

    Rosemont

    Rosemont is a village in Cook County, Illinois, United States. Located immediately northwest of Chicago, as of the 2010 census it had a population of 4,202. The village was incorporated in 1956, though it had been settled long before that. While Rosemont's land area and population are relatively small among municipalities in the Chicago Metropolitan Area, the village is a major center for commercial activity in the region and is a key component of the Golden Corridor. Due to its proximity to several interstates, O'Hare International Airport, and downtown Chicago, it has emerged as a significant edge city and entertainment district, with corporate facilities, millions of square feet of office space, nearly 50 restaurants, 15 hotels, the 840,000-square-foot (78,000 m2) Donald E. Stephens Convention Center (home to conventions and trade shows), the 16,000+ seat Allstate Arena (home to the Chicago Wolves, Chicago Sky, DePaul Blue Demons until 2017, and concerts and other live entertainment events), the 4,000+ seat Rosemont Theatre, the 130-store Fashion Outlets of Chicago, the Rosemont Stadium (home to an outdoor collegiate-level softball stadium and 140,000 sq ft indoor sports dome), Impact Field (home to the Chicago Dogs independent minor league baseball team), and the entertainment complex Parkway Bank Park, which features restaurants, entertainment and a large common area used for summer concerts and ice skating in the winter. Rosemont is near Rivers Casino in Des Plaines and additional hotels, offices, restaurants, and corporate facilities in the adjacent O'Hare neighborhood of Chicago and nearby suburban communities such as Des Plaines and Schiller Park. The residential sections of Rosemont are a gated community, as a result of the 1995 decision by residents to enclose the residential portions of the village (roughly half the area of the village), thereby restricting access to locals.