Chicago is located in the Midwest plains of the US. The city stands in northeastern Illinois and on the southwestern shore of Lake Michigan. Not only does it lie beside Lake Michigan but two rivers cross it: the Chicago River downtown and the Calumet River on the South Side. Moreover, the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal connects the Chicago River and the Des Plaines River.
The orientation in Chicago is rather easy as the map of the city looks like a grid made of streets and avenues that are all parallel and perpendicular. The center of it is the intersection of State Street and Madison Street in the Loop, which is considered downtown and where the business center is located. This junction is basically the middle of the Chicago map or rather the zero point of the city where the north-south and west-east orientation of the streets start as well as the numbering of the buildings and houses. The more you move away from this point, the more the numbers grow according to this logic: a block is one mile (1,6 km) and it also corresponds to the numbering 800. It is also good to know that large avenues cross the city every half mile. Another good way to orient yourself is to use Lake Michigan which is eastside. Remember that if you are going south, the lake is on your left hand side whereas if you are going north, it is on your right hand side.
- One of the main famous streets downtown is Michigan Avenue. It is a north-south street well-known for the portion called “Magnificient Mile” going from the Chicago River to the crossing with Oak Street. It is a main tourist and shopping area.
- Lake Shore Drive is a part of US Highway 41 that runs alongside the shoreline of Lake Michigan. It is a free expressway that serves the east side of the city from south to North.
- The John F. Kennedy Expressway runs northwest from the Chicago Loop to O’Hare International Airport.
- The Eisenhower Expressway or “the Ike” is a part of the Interstate 290 that goes westwards from the Chicago Loop.
- The Dan Ryan Expressway links the downtown of Chicago to with the South of the city. It is also designated as Interstate 90 and Interstate 94.