In or near the center of the city are the Merchandise Mart, the world's largest commercial building; the Chicago Public Library, with the Harold Washington Library Center downtown as well as neighborhood and traveling branches; the Chicago Board of Trade building; and the homes of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chicago Civic Opera. La Salle Street is the financial center. On the lakefront, which has many beaches, are Grant Park, with the Art Institute of Chicago, the Field Natural History Museum, the Adler Planetarium, the Buckingham Memorial Fountain, and the John G. Shedd Aquarium; and Millennium Park, with the Jay Pritzker Pavilion (designed by Frank Gehry). Nearby is Soldier Field, home of the Chicago Bears (National Football League). To the north is the Navy Pier recreation and entertainment complex (opened 1995) and along Michigan Avenue lies the "magnificent mile," Chicago's famous shopping district.
In the residential district to the north lies Lincoln Park, with the Chicago Historical Society building, the Chicago Academy of Sciences, a zoological garden, and a conservatory; sculpture in the park includes the noted standing figure of Abraham Lincoln (1887) by Augustus Saint-Gaudens and the John P. Altgeld memorial monument (1915) by Gutzon Borglum. The North Side is also the site of Wrigley Field, the home of the National League Cubs, one of Chicago's two major league baseball teams.
The American League's White Sox play on the South Side at U.S. Cellular Field. The South Side of Chicago also is the seat of the Univ. of Chicago, with its imposing Gothic buildings; the John Crerar Library of scientific books is there. Nearby is Jackson Park, with the Museum of Science and Industry. Much of the South Side, however, comprises poor and working-class residential areas, including the homes of the nation's largest African-American population. There, also, were the Union Stock Yards (founded 1865 and closed in the 1970s). At the southern edge of the city are once-enormous iron- and steelworks.
The vast West Side is usually spoken of as a region of nationalities because of the many groups living there, in close proximity yet more or less separate culturally. These neighborhoods grew rapidly in the late 19th and early 20th cent. In the West Side and the suburbs to the west are large industrial areas and two well-known parks—Garfield Park, with its noted conservatory, and Humboldt Park. The west is famous for Hull House, the settlement house founded (1889) by Jane Addams. In 1961 the Hull House location, part of an urban renewal project, was selected as the site of the Chicago campus of the Univ. of Illinois.
Other points of interest in Chicago are McCormick Place, the mammoth convention and exhibition center on the lakefront; the Auditorium, designed by Louis H. Sullivan; St. Patrick's Church (dedicated 1856); and a water tower that survived the great fire of 1871. Besides the Univ. of Chicago, the city's institutions include De Paul Univ., Northeastern Illinois Univ., Illinois Institute of Technology, Loyola Univ. of Chicago, Mundelein College, Roosevelt Univ., St. Xavier College, Chicago State Univ., Columbia College, North Park College, parts of Northwestern Univ., and the Univ. of Illinois at Chicago (including the medical center). There are a number of theological seminaries, and schools of music, art, and law. The noted Newberry Library and the Library of International Relations are in Chicago, and the city has a vibrant theatrical community. The city's other major sports teams are the Bulls (basketball) and Blackhawks (hockey).