Chicago on a Budget
Know that you should go to the AHA annual meeting in Chicago, but don't know if you can go? Chicago isn't a city that only a dean can afford. Here, even a graduate student can sleep and eat pretty well, and even escape from the conference itself for some R & R (we promise not to tell anyone that you've escaped).
Getting into Town
The cheapest and easiest way to get downtown is by public transport. The Chicago Transit Authority (http://www.transitchicago.com) runs trains from O'Hare Airport 24 hours a day (the Blue Line route) and from Midway Airport to downtown 3:55 a.m.–12:50 a.m. (the Orange Line route). The Orange Line runs 4:20 a.m.–1:15 a.m. going out. Each way is $1.50 or, while you're at the airport, buy a Visitor Pass ($5–1 day; $9–2 days; $12–3 days or $18–5 days). The passes are good on the train (called the "L") or the bus. Pick up a map when you get to the station and you can find your way around town pretty easily.
Where (and What) to Eat
Something to remember whenever traveling: if you hear of a restaurant you want to try but it seems out of your price range, see if it is open for lunch. The menus are usually similar, if not the same, but prices are lower, so you can have a big lunch and then have cheap appetizers or cheese and crackers in the hotel for dinner. Prices listed are those of an average dinner entrée. Unless indicated otherwise, restaurants are open for lunch and dinner seven days a week.
Ada's Famous Deli & Restaurant,14 S. Wabash Ave. Jewish/Kosher deli, breakfast, lunch, and dinner. $8.
Artists' Restaurant, 412 S. Michigan Ave. A Fine Arts building tradition. $8–$15. Wheelchair access.
Billy Goat, 430 N. Michigan Ave. (lower level). Originally opened in 1934 across from the dearly departed Chicago Stadium where the Owner William "Goat" Sianis put a curse on the Chicago Cubs. In 1964 Billy Goat moved to its location on Michigan Ave. This is the place where the "Cheezborger Cheezborger" skit from SNL started. Along with the cheezborger is a really cheap egg and cheese sandwich ($1.80).
Bar Louie, 47 W. Polk St. Bar and sandwiches. Hours: 11 a.m.–2 a.m. Under $8. Wheelchair access.
Berghoff Restaurant, 17 W. Adams St. Founded in 1898, the Berghoff has been a family operation for four generations. Chicago's oldest restaurant, it sells its own beer, root beer, and bourbon and received Chicago's first post-Prohibition liquor license. $8–$15. Wheelchair access, Braille menu available. Closed Sundays.
Broadband Café, 58 E. Randolph St. Light fare and coffee at an Internet café (T-1 connections, Windows 2000, Zip drives). Closes early evening.
Cellars Market, 141 W. Jackson Blvd. Salad bar is the highlight. Breakfast and lunch M–F. Under $8. Cash only. Wheelchair access.
Exchequer Pub, 226 S. Wabash Ave. Student-friendly. $6 to $8 without drinks. Wheelchair access.
Flat Top Grill, 1000 W. Washington Blvd. Create your own stir-fry. $8–$15. Wheelchair access.
Fontano Subs, 20 E. Jackson Blvd. Hot and cold subs; Italian sausage or meatball with hot peppers are winners! This is not "Subway." Cash only, under $7.
Food Bucket, 111 E. Wacker Dr. "Welcome to the fastest carryout in the business," says the sign. Homemade soups, deli sandwiches, and huge salads. Lunch only, closed Sat. and Sun. Under $5.
Hackney's Printers Row, 733 S. Dearborn. Cozy pub atmosphere in a historic neighborhood. $8–$15. Wheelchair access.
Heaven on Seven, 111 N. Wabash Ave., Seventh Floor. Takeout counter specialties are Po' boy sandwiches, andouille sausage, soft-shell crab, and down-home sides like collard greens, cheese grits, and corn muffins. Friendly staff helps make it an, ahem, hot Loop lunch spot. Breakfast and lunch M–Sat. $8–$15. Cash only. Wheelchair access.
Jubilee Juice, 140 N. Halsted St. Burgers, fresh-squeezed juice and smoothies. Closed Sun.
Little Louie's, 24 E. Congress Pkwy. Interesting display of newspaper clippings ("I was Queen Elizabeth's love slave"). Under $8. Wheelchair access.
Max's Take Out, 20 E. Adams St. Breakfast is popular, very cheap. Breakfast and lunch only Sat.
Miller's Pub, 134 S. Wabash Ave. Close to meeting hotels, bar service until the early morning hours. $8–$15. Wheelchair access.
Old Timer's Restaurant and Lounge, 75 E. Lake St. Classic neighborhood diner. $8–$15. Not wheelchair accessible.
Potbelly Sandwich Works, 303 W. Madison St.; 190 N. State St. Enter on Franklin. Roasted sandwiches. Lunch only Sat., closed Sun. Under $8. Cash only. Wheelchair access.
Standing Room Only (SRO Chicago), 610 S. Dearborn St. Deli. Closed Sun. Under $8. Cash only. Wheelchair access.
Taco Fresco, 180 N. Wells St.; 105 W. Adams St. "Health-Mex." Lunch only, closed Sat. and Sun.
Taza, 39 S. Wabash Ave. Salads, fresh wraps, specializes in chicken. Under $8. Cash only. Wheelchair access.
Where to Spend Time
Please note that unless indicated otherwise, some of these sites require a donation for admission.
Art Institute of Chicago (http://www.artic.edu), 111 S. Michigan Ave. Need we say more? Running during the annual meeting is Medici, Michelangelo and the Art of Renaissance Florence.
Chicago Architecture Foundation (http://www.architecture.org), 224 S. Michigan Ave. The CAF provides walking, boat, and bus tours of Chicago architecture. Gallery admission free. Wheelchair access.
Chicago Cultural Center (http://www.ci.chi.il.us/Tourism/CulturalCenter/), 78 E. Washington St. Once this was the main branch of the Chicago Public Library. Still one of the most wonderful structures downtown, a neoclassical masterpiece that features art-glass domes and glittering mosaic walls. Daytime concerts (every weekday at 12:15 p.m. and other times), contemporary art. Tourist center to get your bearings. Free admission. Wheelchair access.
Museum of Broadcast Communications (http://www.mbcnet.org), 78 E. Washington St. One of the few museums and archive centers of the broadcast industry in the country, the MBC is housed within the Chicago Cultural Center complex. Free. Wheelchair access.
Newberry Library (http://www.newberry.org), 60 W. Walton St. An independent research library specializing in the humanities. Free admission to galleries.
Chicago Historical Society (http://www.chicagohs.org), Clark Street at North Avenue. One of the best urban history museums in the country. The society is offering free admission to AHA annual meeting attendees (badge has to be shown to door monitors).
Hellenic Museum and Cultural Center (http://www.hellenicmuseum.org), 168 N. Michigan Ave. The story of Greeks in America, and particularly in Chicago, is told through crafts, photos, musical instruments, family memories, and artifacts. Closed Sat., Sun. Wheelchair access.
Museum of Contemporary Photography (http://www.mocp.org), Columbia College, 600 S. Michigan Ave. Commercial and art photography. Free. Closed Sun. Wheelchair access.
Spertus Museum at the Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies (http://www. spertus.edu), 618 S. Michigan Ave. Jewish life in America and around the world, Zell Holocaust Memorial. Closed Sat. Free on Fri. Wheelchair access.
Places to Shop (but not necessarily to buy)
Afrocentric Bookstore, 234 S. Wabash Ave. Closed Sun.
Booksellers Row, 408 S. Michigan Ave. Huge used book store. Open evenings.
Chicago Music Mart, DePaul Center, 333 S. State St. A "food court" of fine music stores. Live performances on lower level most days around noon.
Gallery 37 Store, 66 E. Randolph St. The Gallery 37 Store serves as a showcase for work created by students enrolled in Gallery 37, the city's training program in the arts. Pick up a Chicago souvenir and support budding artists. Closed Sat. Cash only. Wheelchair access.
Harlan Berk, 31 N. Clark St. Coin museum. Closed Sat., Sun.
Prairie Avenue Bookshop, 418 S. Wabash Ave. It makes sense that a city famous for its architecture should have a great architectural bookstore. Closed Sun.
Rain Dog Books, 404 S. Michigan Ave. Geared toward collectors. Nice browsing.
What to See (Public Art)
Alexander Hamilton, 50 S. Michigan Ave., Sculpted by Lynn Pratt, a student of Augustus Saint-Gaudens. Located in Grant Park, east of Michigan Avenue between Madison and Monroe streets.
The Flight of Daedalus and Icarus, 120 N. La Salle St. This 27-by-54-foot mosaic by Roger Brown shows the flight of Daedalus and his son, Icarus.
Untitled, or The Picasso, 50 W. Washington St. This 50-foot structure in Daley Plaza is made of Cor-Ten steel. When it was installed in 1967, many people were not comfortable with Picasso's abstract design and nontraditional materials, but it led the way for many other sculptures to be placed in and near the Loop. Some people see the head of a woman, others a horse or a bird.
Dawn Shadow, 200 W. Madison St. Louise Nevelson's work was inspired by Chicago's "el," or elevated train.
Doorful of Syrup, 35 W. Wacker Dr. This steel and enamel sculpture by John Chamberlain stands in the lobby of the Leo Burnett advertising agency's headquarters.
The Four Seasons, 1 First National Plaza. Mark Chagall's huge mosaic—made of hand-chipped, pastel-colored stone and glass fragments—offers a Mediterranean view of the changing of seasons. Chagall saw the seasons as representing "human life, both physical and spiritual, at its different ages.
Freeform, 160 N. La Salle St. Richard Hunt's sculptures characteristically suggest a lack of creative restraint. The sculpture is on the Illinois State Office Building and, as Hunt sees it, is an expression of government, "On one hand, Freeform has to do with an abstract art in that it is freely formed. On the other hand, it is perfectly suitable symbol for government which supports individual freedoms."
The George Washington-Robert Morris-Haym Salomon Memorial, 44 E. Wacker Dr. (Herald Square). The familiar figure of George Washington is shown with two of his lesser-known civilian supporters, Robert Morris and Haym Salomon, both major financial backers of the American Revolution (but who died penniless).
The Lions, 111 S. Michigan Ave. The cats at the Art Institute of Chicago have come to symbolize Chicago—they even wore Bulls jerseys during championship runs. Commissioned after the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition and sculpted by Edward Kemeys, the cats stand at slightly different poses—one is on the prowl while the other stands as if in defiance.
Storefront Theater, 66 E. Randolph St. 312.744.8925. Original works and second stagings of Chicago's best off-Loop theater and dance companies in an intimate state-of-the-art, 99-seat, black box theater.
HotHouse, 31 E. Balbo Dr. 312.362.9707. Not-for-profit center booking leading local, national, and international music, often less than $10. The city standard for jazz, world music, film, and performance pieces. Wheelchair access.
McCormick-Tribune Ice Rink at Millennium Park, 55 N. Michigan Ave. 312.742.5222 Skate rentals $3 per session.
Hot Tix, 78 W. Randolph St.; 163 E. Pearson St.; 214 S. Wabash Ave. Same-day half-price tickets for about 140 city and suburban theaters. You must buy tickets in person at a Hot Tix location to obtain the discounted price.
—Sarah Rose and LisaMary Wichowski are graduate students in the department of history at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Tags: Annual Meeting Annual Meeting through 2010
Please read our commenting and letters policy before submitting.