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Chicago chic

The name triggers black and white images of gangsters, or an imposing city skyline dominated by skyscrapers, but the Chicago of the twenty-first century is bright and vibrant, with green spaces and bustling shopping malls, and its high class restaurants are a gastronome's delight.

Even those who don't know Chicago recognise its nickname 'The Windy City'. They picture it in black and white, with vintage cars driven by gangsters toting machine guns, but America's third most populous city has more to offer than a reputation based on Prohibition and the likes of Al Capone. Lying between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River, Chicago boasts the second busiest airport in the world and is a major centre for industry, telecomms, business and finance that attracts well over a million overseas visitors each year.

The modern cityscape owes a lot to the great fire of 1871, which destroyed much of the city, including the entire central business district, and set in motion a huge reconstruction project. In 1885, the very first skyscraper rose to dominate Chicago's skyline, which today remains one of the world's tallest and densest and includes America's two tallest buildings. Featuring spectacular gardens along a tree-lined boulevard with some of the world’s most distinctive buildings, both old and new, Michigan Avenue's Magnificent Mile boasts restaurants, spas, hotels, monuments and hundreds of shops, ranging from designer boutiques to American mainstream. This year celebs and designers will be joining in the fun at the first Magnificent Mile Shopping Festival, from August 26th to September 8th.

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