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CHICAGO


don’t need an app or the toot of a horn to know my ride has arrived. I can tell by the quickening of the air, the whoosh of wind and the rhythmic ‘thwop-thwop’ of the rotor blades. After a windswept photo, I climb aboard a scarlet chopper for a jaunt through the skies with Chicago Helicopter Experience. While the Windy City’s steely skyline is impressive from any angle, there are few better vantage points than 1,500 feet above ground. Other cities may have taller buildings but


I


Chicago, birthplace of the skyscraper, still stands spires and shoulders above the rest. The helicopter zigzags past the twin antennae of the Willis Tower, home to vertiginous glass-viewing platform SkyDeck. The city’s tallest building, it soars like a gleaming king on a board of intricate chess pieces. Styles range from art deco (333 North Michigan) and modernist (the John Hancock Building, or ‘Big John’) to the Spanish colonial revival of the Wrigley Building, its Seville-inspired clock tower telling time by the teal-coloured Chicago River. From the air, doll-sized walkers, joggers, cyclists and rollerbladers dot the wide paths around Lake Michigan, while others laze on beaches and grass. Chicago knows it’s gorgeous. All that architecture, water and lush green spaces has earned it the nickname ‘Urbs in Horto’, or city in a garden. And it hasn’t let itself go. Maggie Daley Park opened in 2015, replacing an


70 — aspire september 2017


underground parking lot with tennis courts, an outdoor climbing wall and picnic spots next to Millennium Park’s 25 acres. Spanning the two parks is Frank Gehry’s BP Pedestrian Bridge, a sinuous squiggle of brushed stainless steel. Then there’s the art. The Art Institute’s permanent collection – world-famous paintings include Grant Wood’s American Gothic, Picasso’s The Old Guitarist and Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks – is as dizzying as those buildings, which glint through the glass as I weave between floors.


LUXE APPEAL


The luxury travel market is taking notice. Bespoke Experiences, which works with travel agents to tailor exclusive tours, recently added Chicago to its portfolio.


Chicago’s architecture, water and lush green spaces have earned it the nickname ‘Urbs in Horto’, or city in a garden


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