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Nestled along the shores of Lake Michigan in Chicago, Illinois, or Chi-Town, as it's affectionately called, is home to more than 2.5 million Americans. Chicago is a veritable hub of international commerce, industry, and finance, with more than a dozen Fortune 500 companies within its borders.
First inhabited by indigenous peoples of the Sauk and Fox and Miami nations, the Potawatomi tribe eventually succeeded the two peoples and overtook control of the region until the mid-18th century. Despite this, it's Jean Baptiste Point du Sable, the first permanent settler of non-indigenous descent in the area, who's known colloquially as the "Founder of Chicago."
Today, the Windy City is home to multiple universities, landmarks, museums, and its Hyde Park will soon be the site of the Barack Obama Presidential Center. On average, more than 50 million tourists venture to Chicago every year, and it's no wonder, considering it was rated the second most beautiful city in the world by Time Out in 2021.
Chicago is overflowing with attractions, experiences, cuisines, and cultures that you truly have to see to believe. If you're planning a visit to Chi-Town, continue reading below to find out where you can safely store your luggage while you explore and enjoy the day.
Boasting the second-largest public transport system in the U.S., the Windy City operates more than 125 Chicago Transit Authority-run bus routes and eight train lines. Furthermore, the city's streets are set up on a grid system, making short walks between transit centers and destinations a breeze.
Chicago Union Station is located on South Canal Street, west of the Chicago River in the Near West Side. And, as the third railway station in the city's history to hold the namesake, Union Station's history extends as far back as the late 1850s. As a matter of fact, during World War II, the station regularly saw as many as 100,000 passengers, primarily soldiers, and up to 300 trains through its halls each day.
These days, though, Chicago Union Station is more easily recognizable as the setting for a slew of blockbuster movies and hit television shows, including The Untouchables and Fargo. Its unmistakable marble floors, giant Corinthian columns, historic brass lamp fixtures, and Beaux-Arts facades constructed with Bedford limestone all add to the station's classically beautiful aesthetic.
More than just a marvel of architecture and design, the station transports more than 3 million travellers yearly, and, in addition to its 25 train tracks and 30 island platforms, serves as a transit hub for multiple bus lines.
Formerly the Chicago and North Western Terminal, the Ogilvie Transportation Center consists of 8 island platforms and 16 railroad tracks spread out across two square city blocks. The second busiest train station in Chicago after Union Station, Ogilvie Transportation Center also connects passengers to Chicago's L line of CTA buses.
The first iteration of the station was built in 1911, before the Great Chicago Fire, and later underwent massive reconstruction and rehabilitation in the mid 1980s and early 1990s. Known to long-time locals as CPT, a shortened version of Chicago Passenger Terminal, the station is the second busiest in the city behind Union Station, and the sixth-busiest railway station in all of North America.
Ogilvie Transportation Center provides regular commuter rail services via Metra's Union Pacific District lines, the Union Pacific West, North, and Northwest lines. Additionally, passengers can make connections to 12 CTA buses via the platform directly adjacent to Clinton Station, Madison Street, Washington Boulevard, of the lower level concourse.
Not to be mistaken for the adjacent LaSalle CTA Station or the LaSalle/Van Buren Station, LaSalle Street Station is located at 414 South LaSalle Street in Chicago. Owned and operated by Metra, the LaSalle Street Station serves as a commuter rail terminal and transit connector to the Chicago L Line.
The fifth station of its kind to occupy the space since 1852, the current building was constructed in 1981 after its predecessor was demolished. A short walk from Willis Tower, the Chicago Board of Trade Building, and Harold Washington Library, LaSalle Street Station consists of two side platforms, three island platforms, and 8 tracks.
On any given day, the Windy City sees an average of more than 2,500 aircraft operations at O'Hare International Airport alone. Are you planning on flying into Chicago? If so, continue reading below to find out where you can find dependable baggage storage at the city's busiest airports.
Known simply as O'Hare to locals, O'Hare International Airport is situated in Chicago's Northwest Side, about 14 miles (23 kilometers) from the Loop business district downtown. The airport covers more than 7,600 acres (about 3,087 hectares) and, as such, has been nicknamed "the busiest square mile in the world."
O'Hare first opened as an airfield in February of 1944 to provide C-54 military transports for a Douglas manufacturing plant during World War II. The airport paved the way as a pioneer in innovation in the industry as the first of its kind to be designed and constructed after the war, its concourse, jet bridges, and underground refueling systems were some of the first of their kind.
Currently, the airport has a whopping 141 gates and four passenger terminals with nine concourses. O'Hare is known for being the busiest airport in Chicago, handling more than 60 million passengers in an average year on its eight runways.
An airport of many names, Chicago Midway International Airport also goes by Midway Airport, Chicago Midway, and sometimes just Midway. The primary airport in the Windy City until 1955, when O'Hare took over, Midway Airport is the second-busiest airport in the area, serving around 20 million passengers annually.
Located 12 miles (19 kilometers) from the Loop and downtown, Chicago Midway serves as a base for Southwest Airlines who provide flights to more than 95% of the airport's customers. Named in honor of the Battle of Midway, the terminal complex was completed in 2001 and consists of 43 gates with international and domestic facilities for passengers.
Although the Airport only covers a little more than a single square mile (775.4 acres, 313.8 hectares), it's equipped with five runways and three concourses.
Despite being located 85 miles from the city itself, Rockford Airport is a major airport for Chicago. The airport is the hub for UPS Airlines and has been since 1994 due to the two facilities owned by the company at the airport.
Opened in 1946, the current Rockford Airport Complex completed constructed in 1987 and sits on land once used by the U.S. Army as a military training facility. The airport's two runways handle more than 450 million pounds of cargo each year, in addition to nearly 200,000 passengers, both domestic and international.
Rockford Airport is due to undergo massive expansion efforts starting in 2021. These expansions are intended to increase passenger traffic through the airport, so be sure to grab your ticket while prices are still lower than O'Hare and Midway!
There are four distinct seasons in Chicago, each of which is heavily influenced by the nearby Lake Michigan. Notably, the summer temperatures in the Windy City are tepid, regularly reaching around 82 Farenheight (almost 28 Celcius), and rarely dipping below 60 Farenhieght (around 15 Celcius).
Conversely, the frigid, snowy winter season lasts from December to March, with average yearly snow totals of 36 inches (91 centimeters) and temperatures ranging from 25 Farienhieght (approximately 3.9 Celcius) to 35 Farienheight (approximately 1.7 Celcius). Furthermore, about every three years, the city is hit by severe snowstorms capable of producing more than 10 inches (25 centimeters), usually in less than three days!