Editor’s Note: Morgan Park Academy’s global curriculum culminates each March with a school-wide week of global explorations, this year including an Upper School exploration of the history of Chicago.
By Hannah Sipich ’22
I have lived in Chicago my entire life and have seen almost everything of importance in the city — or so I thought.
For Project Week this year, our group explored the history of Chicago.
I never thought that a history trip of my home city would be so interesting. I learned a great deal and would have never guessed that Chicago was so complex and important. The experience made my classmates and me appreciate our city even more and made us fall back in love with Chicago, having new knowledge of this great place we call home. Because of this trip, I became friends with people I never thought I would talk to and became even closer to the friends I already have.
On our first day, we walked through the Loop, visiting the Cultural Center, Grant Park, and of course stopping for a few pictures at the iconic Millennium Park sculpture Cloud Gate, better known as the Bean.
While walking through the city, we learned about architects like William Le Baron Jenney, who is considered the inventor of the skyscraper; Jeanne Gang, one of the most influential female architects, who is currently building a 93-story building which will be the third-tallest skyscraper in the city; and Bruce Graham, who built the Sears Tower (now named the Willis Tower), which was at the time the tallest building in the world.
When we finally arrived at the Willis Tower, we went up 108 stories to the skydeck, where only the bravest of us entered the glass boxes to stand out on the ledge.
VIDEO BY CONNOR HU ’19
The second day, we walked through Old Town and Lincoln Park.
While in Old Town, we learned about the type of brick that makes up just about every building in Chicago. Called “Chicago common,” it is an extremely popular brick because it was manufactured here in Chicago from the clay of the Chicago River. Architects loved the brick because after the Great Fire it was cheap and aged well. Since production of this brick has ended it has become expensive, but is a must have for popular restaurants and bars in the city.
As we continued our journey, we went to the History Museum and walked into Lincoln Park where we saw the memorial for President Abraham Lincoln. After exploring the Nature Boardwalk, we concluded the day by enjoying the Lincoln Park Zoo.
Since this was a walking project, our third day required a little improvising since it was raining. Trying to stay indoors as much as possible, we visited the River North and Gold Coast neighborhoods. Our first stop was the old water pumping station. Next, we toured several well-known churches such as St. James Cathedral, Fourth Presbyterian Church, and Holy Name Cathedral.
After this, it was time to eat. While walking to lunch, we learned that Pizzeria Uno was the birthplace of deep-dish pizza and was created by their head chef Rudy Malnati. Rudy’s son Lou started working with him co-managing Pizzeria Uno and making deep dish pizza. In the 1970s, the first Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria opened, and you guessed it, one of its main competitors today is Pizzeria Uno. Our last stop of the day was Driehaus Museum.
On the fourth and final day, we visited to the University of Chicago campus and toured the Oriental Institute Museum. This museum is a leader in the research of the ancient Middle East. It was interesting viewing all the artifacts and learning about ancient Nubia, Mesopotamia, and Egypt. When our time here was over, we headed to lunch at an Italian restaurant. We ended our amazing trip at the Museum of Science and Industry.
I would like to add that we had an amazing tour guide, even though he was not always keen on letting us stop for Starbucks coffee. Our teachers were a lot of fun and would occasionally add more to a story that our tour guide was explaining. They also enjoyed sharing information regarding events in an area that took place when they were our age.
Overall, this was one of my favorite trips that I have taken while at Morgan Park Academy. In spite of all the walking we did, the cold, and the rain, it was worth it.
Hannah is a freshman at Morgan Park Academy.