Chicago, USA

As the largest city in Illinois and the third largest city in America, Chicago has captivated the hearts, minds, and souls of people all the world over for centuries. The city's sports teams, like the Chicago Cubs and the Chicago Bulls, are among the most recognized franchises in worldwide sports history. On a less salutary note, the city's crime problems over the years have become the stuff of legend; from Al Capone and his Valentine's Day Massacre to the widespread gang problems of the 70s and 80s that nearly crippled the city, violence has been a huge part of Chicago's history for better or worse. Bootlegging during the Prohibition Era was perfected in the Windy City when there were over a thousand gangs operating within the city limits and Chicago has been notorious for having some of the highest murder rates in the world ever since. Even today Chicago leads the country as the Murder capital of the United States, but that does not mean that a visit to the city is a bad idea; on the contrary, Chicago is perfectly safe providing you do not have an interest in some of the more run down areas or any bus stop in particular.

Chicago has also captivated people in song and on the silver screen as well. From the universally-known Broadway musical "Chicago" to the countless records like Robert Johnson's "Sweet Home Chicago", Chi-Town has been a word on everyone's lips for time immemorial. This reputation is well earned, however, considering how much culture that is now part of the worldwide fabric originated in Chicago. Jazz music, one of the greatest Americanventions known to man, was born in Chicago after the "Great Migration", when thousands of African Americans fled the more racist southern states in favor of the larger urban framework of the developing cities at the time like Chicago, Detroit, Baltimore, and Cleveland.

Visitors to Chicago will realize right away why the city has inspired so many artists, singers, and writers: Chicago is like no other city in the world. While other cities have impressive skylines, none matches Chicago for the shepherd grandeur of its skyscrapers. The Sears Tower was once the tallest building in the country but it has recently been eclipsed and it has also changed its name to the less iconic Willis Tower after Sears and Roebuck sold the landmark. All the same, the skyline of Chicago is still the tallest and largest in the world. There is good reason for this; after building the first steel-framed building in 1885, Chicago practically invented the skyscraper! Chief among these impressive edifices is one of the largest buildings in the world: The Merchandise Mart. This tourist favorite is so awesome that it has its own zip code! The Trump Tower is also an impressive draw, as if Chicago did not have enough to offer on its own. The Chicago Zoo is also one of the largest and most amazing of its kind, as is the Chicago Philharmonic. This old city has withstood gang violence, a massive fire that burned much of the city to the ground, bombings, and major racial strife. Still, though, this city is standing gloriously, touting its amazing legacy to all willing to see and hear. If you've never been to Chicago, you're missing out on one of the most important pieces of cultural history known to man.