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Gap opens on State Street

Gap has come to the Loop.

Located in the space formerly occupied by Old Navy at State and Washington, the new store sports bright, welcoming colors and a spacious layout, with a friendly staff who makes the experience comfortable and care-free.

Plus, to celebrate today's grand opening, Sephora is offering free makeup consultations in the front, while iconic Chicago goodies like Garrett's Popcorn are available for shoppers near the fitting rooms. What's not to love about the latest addition to State Street retail?

Uh oh, I foresee some spring shopping in our future!


Happy Birthday Chicago! Here's to 176 more

Mark Twain once said, "It is hopeless for the occasional visitor to try to keep up with Chicago. She outgrows his prophecies faster than he can make them."

Chicago was only 46 years old when he wrote those words, but it had already grown more than 100-fold, from a small trading post at the mouth of the Chicago River into one of the nation’s largest cities, and it wasn’t about to stop. Over the next 20 years, it would quadruple in population, amazing the rest of the world with its ability to repeatedly reinvent itself.

And it still hasn’t stopped. Today, Chicago has become a global city, a thriving center of international trade and commerce, and a place where people of every nationality come to pursue the American dream.

Then, 1800

A Brief History

Early Chicago

The drawing pictured above is what historians believed Chicago in the early 1800’s looked like. From just a small town of three eighths of a square mile with only 150 people to 4,170 people on the day it became a city just 37 years later. On March 4, 1837, the act to incorporate Chicago as a city was passed and William B. Ogden was elected Chicago's first mayor.

Chicago’s first permanent resident was a trader named Jean Baptiste Point du Sable, a free black man who came here in the late 1770s. After Chicago became a city in 1837, it grew rapidly around the edges of the second Fort Dearborn, built in 1816. The fort persisted until 1857, when Chicago had a population of more than 80,000.

A Trading Center

Chicago was ideally situated to take advantage of the trading possibilities created by the nation’s westward expansion. The completion of the Illinois & Michigan Canal in 1848 created a water link between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River, but the canal was soon rendered obsolete by railroads.

The Great Fire of 1871

As Chicago grew, its residents took heroic measures to keep pace. In the 1850s, they raised many of the streets five to eight feet to install a sewer system – and then raised the buildings, as well. Unfortunately, the buildings, streets and sidewalks were made of wood, and most of them burned to the ground in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. The Chicago Fire Department training academy at 558 W. DeKoven St. is on the site of the O’Leary property where the fire began. The Chicago Water Tower and Pumping Station at Michigan and Chicago avenues are among the few buildings to have survived the fire.

The White City

Chicago rebuilt quickly. Much of the debris was dumped into Lake Michigan as landfill, forming the underpinnings for what is now Grant Park, Millennium Park and the Art Institute of Chicago. The nation’s first skyscraper, the 10-story, steel-framed Home Insurance Building, was built in 1884 at LaSalle and Adams. Only 9 years later, Chicago celebrated its comeback by holding the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893, during which Chicago got its nickname “The White City" as the white stucco buildings and extensive use of street lights illuminated the city in white.The first Ferris wheel made its debut in Chicago at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition. Chicago refused to be discouraged even by the Great Depression. In 1933 and 1934, the city held an equally successful Century of Progress Exposition on Northerly Island.

1930’s and Beyond

By the 1950’s Chicago was on fresh feet—literally. Major expressways were completed within the same year, creating ease of transportation for commuters and visitors to and from the city. Museums and cultural institutions were opening, establishing a rise in the creative capital downtown; The Adler Planetarium became the first planetarium in the Western Hemisphere in 1930. In 1973, the Sears Tower, now Willis Tower, was completed becoming the world’s tallest building at the time and Chicago’s nightlife and entertainment was some of the best in the country.

Today, 2013

Throughout Chicago’s history, Chicagoans have demonstrated their ingenuity in matters large and small. Today, Chicago is home to a growing list of annual celebrations, attractions and amenities both visitors and residents enjoy including:

237 square miles of land
An estimated 2,695,598 residents
Dozens of cultural institutions, historical sites and museums
More than 200 theaters
Nearly 200 art galleries
More than 7,300 restaurants
77 community areas containing more than 100 neighborhoods
26 miles of lakefront
15 miles of bathing beaches
36 annual parades
19 miles of lakefront bicycle paths
552 parks
11 Fortune 500 companies, the metropolitan area hosts an additional 21

Within the walls of Chicago today, nearly 43 million people visit annually and a record 23.07 million overnight business and leisure travelers pass through the downtown area. And with almost 3 million residents, it goes without saying that Chicago has come a long way since a hilly flat plane along a waterfont.

Happy Birthday, Chicago. Here's to 176 more!


March 2013 Loop List

1. Chi-rish Experience

All eyes will be on Chicago on the 16th for the River Dyeing Ceremony. Join Chicagoans and tourists at 10 am to take part in this annual tradition! Continue the celebration by watching the Annual Chicago St. Patrick's Day Parade at 12 pm.

2. Go Big Ten

Chicago Loop Alliance is partnering with the Chicago Sports Commission to celebrate the 2013 Big Ten Men’s Basketball Tournament, returning to the United Center March 14 - 17. Fans can get into the spirit of the games beginning March 4, with CLA’s Lightscape: a Multisensory Experience on State Street broadcasting each university’s fight songs along State Street from Wacker Drive to Congress Parkway throughout the month.

3. All Green

Hotel Monaco sits on the banks of the Chicago River and has been named the number one spot to stay and view the annual river dying ceremony. The Monaco is also a “green” hotel specially designed to reduce impact on the environment.

4. Cured Cravings

Don’t forget the beef! Head over to Beef & Brandy after the parade for their delicious corned beef on rye sandwich and enjoy some drinks in their newest addition, the Bar Below.

5. Party Plans

Stumped on how to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day this year? My Drink On is the place to find the best deals, food and drink packages, and special events throughout Chicago!

6. A Touch O’Green

CityTarget is the perfect place to find all your party essentials in their festive holiday section.  From beads to home décor, it’s your one stop shop for everything St. Patrick’s Day themed.

7. Navigate the Night

Plan your own St. Patrick’s Day celebration on a Chicago Trolley. Chicago Trolley and Double Decker Co. has the perfect way to hit all the hot spots around town.

8. Get Your Greens

Freshii in the Palmer House Hilton has an array of super greens in their selections of sandwiches, wraps, salads and more to fill you up and keep you going all day!

9. Green Gear

Don't be the only one not wearing green on St. Patrick's Day! Stop by shops at Block 37 and Old Navy to stock up on green gear--from hats, shirts, pants and more!

10. Sweet Luck

Need a treat for St. Patrick’s Day party? Bring custom themed cookies from Toni Patisserie and Café! The Toni team creates gorgeous and delicious gifts perfect for the occasion.


"Love Songs & Lights" illuminates the Loop this Valentine's Day

The countdown to Valentine's Day has begun, as State Street is illuminated in red and white.

The second "Love Songs & Lights" campaign -- presented in partnership with the American Heart Association as part of National Heart Month -- will feature our favorite love songs on Lightscape throughout the month of February. Enjoy songs from the Beatles, Elvis Presley, David Bowie, Michael Buble and many more as we team up with The American Heart Association to celebrate ten years of going red to fight the number one killer in woman: heart disease.

Commissioned by Chicago Loop Alliance, Lightscape is comprised of a dozen “prairie grass” landscapes of varying heights up to 9-feet-tall, “planted” along sidewalks on State Street from Lake to Van Buren Streets.  The decorative clusters feature 50-100 energy-efficient LED lights each, along with embedded speakers which will broadcast musical selections and special announcements, as the lights change patterns in synchronization with songs.  


February 2013 Loop List

Valentine’s Day is just weeks away, and there are so many opportunities to share your love in the Loop.

1. Healthy Heart

Go Red for National Heart Month and help the American Heart Association draw attention to the number one killer of women: heart disease.

2. Pure Bliss

Give the gift of a relaxing massage to your significant other this Valentine’s Day. Balance Spa and Fitness at the Palmer House offers an amazing variety of stress relievers including couple massages.

3. Sweet Treat

Fall in love with Magnolia Bakery’s divine selection of romantic Valentine’s Day desserts and gift packages. Perfect for a party or just for two!

4. Feel the Love

The Anti-Cruelty Society is featuring their “Feel the Love” CATpaign this month and waving the adoption fee for the five cats that have been in their shelter the longest. Find your feline friend or volunteer this Valentine’s Day!

5. Romance Rev’d Up
Ignite the romance and sweetness this Valentine’s Day with W Chicago City Center’s luxury transportation service, Uber. Two rides are yours to use during your stay and end your evening on a sweet note with 2 Sprinkles Cupcakes.

6. Sounds of Love

Enjoy the sounds of Lightscape: A Multisensory Experience on State Street. Love Songs & Lights unfolds for its second year, featuring songs from the Beatles, Elvis Presley, David Bowie, Michael Buble, and many more throughout the month.

7. True Commitment

Join the American Diabetes Association’s Team Diabetes in the Bank of America Chicago Marathon by February 15 and take $200 off your fundraising minimum. They’ll also include complimentary training through CARA, the largest running organization in the Midwest and the third largest in the nation.

8. Show Your Love

See a show during Chicago Theatre Week, happening February 12-17! Broadway In Chicago is your one stop shop for tickets, show listings and where to stay after.

9. Light the Night

Make your evening more romantic with a glowing assortment of candles from Merz Downtown.

10. Décor Galore

Walgreens is the place for decorations, chocolate, themed gifts and flowers. Take 20% off fragrances during their Valentine’s Day special.


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