The Windy City Is My Kind of Town; Jade Wright Travels to Barack Obama's Hometown, Chicago Illinois

Article excerpt

Byline: Jade Wright

WHEN the campaigning was over, there was only one place Barack Obama wanted to find out the results of the election last week - his old hometown, Chicago.

The President worked as a civil rights attorney in the windy city and taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School for 12 years, so it's somewhere he's particularly fond of.

It's easy to see why. Chicago is one of those cities that once you visit it, you don't want to leave. It hugs the south-western shore of Lake Michigan. The lake is so big it's like the sea, and the city is surrounded by green space. The buildings gleam, the streets are broad and traffic-free, the parks are perfect, and the locals talk with horror of the grime of New York.

It's one of the cleanest and friendliest cities I have ever visited - a long way from the city of John Dillinger, Al Capone and the St Valentine''s Day Massacre.

Chicago is also the home of the skyscraper, and Willis Tower is as tall as they get. Formerly known as the Sears Tower, it's the tallest building in the western hemisphere and the third tallest in the world.

Best of all, they now have a skydeck, where you can step out into a glass box and hover 1,353 feet in the air.

The view is spectacular at any time of day, but to see both the day and night views I'd recommend a visit at sunset.

I spent a wonderful hour watching the sun go down over the Midwest.

The skyline tells the story of the city. In 1871, most of the city burned in the Great Chicago Fire. The building boom that followed saved the city''s status as the trade hub of the Midwest.

Massive reconstruction using the newest materials and methods catapulted Chicago into becoming the birthplace of modern architecture in the United States.

The Chicago Architecture Foundation runs an excellent River Cruise (www.cruisechicago.com).

You get breathtaking views of some of the world''s first, and finest, tall buildings from the river.

From Trump Tower to the gothic Tribune building, you''ll feel like you know the city a lot better at the end of the tour.

The guides are great - typically friendly Midwesterners keen to share their enthusiasm for one of the world''s great cities.

If you don't fancy the boat, they also offer bus, bike, walking, 'L' train, and Segway tours. You don't need to be an architecture buff to enjoy the tours - they are very accessible and enjoyable.

No trip to Chicago would be complete without a deep pan pizza pie.

Giordano's on East Randolph Drive does a fantastic cakey, focaccia-like base with a variety of toppings. Beware though - the portions are huge.

We were all full after one slice each of the smallest pizza pie, and the staff automatically bring a box for you to take home what you can''t finish.

There is a restaurant to suit every taste. A great place to try is Park Grill at ? Turn to Page 20 TRAVEL TIPS JADE stayed at Chicago's Essex Inn (www.essexinn.com), 800 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Phone: +1 (312) 939-2800, where rooms start at $99 a night.

. ? Visit The Ledge at Skydeck's Willis Tower www.theskydeck.com ? For more information on the Great Lakes USA visit www. …