Chicago is the third largest city in the United States and carries with it a rich history, vibrant social and cultural institutions, and a massive variety of people and experiences. Nicknamed “The Windy City” (for political—rather than meteorological—reasons), Chicago is also known as a city of neighborhoods with each community offering something uniquely their own to residents and visitors alike. During your time in this fellowship program, we encourage you to make the most of your opportunities and explore the little cities that make up our big one (Neighborhoods & Communities).
Weather in Chicago can be a difficult adjustment for anyone unfamiliar with the Midwestern climate—summers are hot and extremely humid (the city was, after all, built on a swamp) and winters can be bitterly cold and stormy. Both spring and fall sometimes bring heavy thunderstorms and occasional tornado warnings for the greater Chicagoland area, but in between all of that we usually get a few weeks of gorgeous weather in to tide us over. The joke (that isn’t really a joke) about Chicago weather goes: Chicago has two seasons—winter and construction. But with a good clothing layering system and a little (or a lot of) patience, you’ll be fine. And be sure to take advantage of the seasonal activities that make up for (some) of the weather extremes!
Transit in the Chicagoland area can be divided into three general groups:
City of Chicago –>
The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) operates subway (“L”) trains and buses throughout almost every part of the city up to the city limits. Most bus lines operate between 5AM-6AM and 12AM-1AM, with comparable hours for the Green, Pink, Brown, Orange, Purple, and Yellow train lines. The Red and Blue lines run 24 hours a day.
Ventra is the company which currently administers CTA fare cards and passes.
Chicagoland Suburbs –>
Pace buses run throughout suburban Chicagoland, with somewhat less frequency and shorter hours than the CTA.
Metra train lines serve major stops between multiple downtown stations and the far suburbs. Most trains run once an hour between 5AM and 12AM, with higher frequency during rush hours.
Beyond Chicagoland –>
Amtrak trains run out of Union Station in downtown Chicago and connect to other major cities across the United States.
Chicago has two international airports—O’Hare on the far northwest side of the city (at the end of the Blue line) and Midway on the southwest side (at the end of the Orange line).
The closest CTA train stops for our building are the Polk Pink Line stop and the Illinois Medical District Blue Line stop. The closest bus stops are Polk & Wood on the Harrison #7, Ashland & Polk on the Ashland #9, Ashland & Taylor on the Ashland Express X9, Roosevelt & Wood on the Roosevelt #12, Damen & Polk on the Damen #50, and Polk & Wolcott on the Streeterville/Taylor #157.
The app Transit Tracks offers reasonably accurate running times for both CTA buses and trains.
More transportation information can be found on the UIC website
New residents and visitors should be aware that Chicago street parking regulations can be strictly and swiftly enforced; parking tickets are not an uncommon experience even for long-time Chicagoans. Rules on pay meters and posted signs should be carefully followed. Drivers should also be aware that sometimes there are regulations which are not posted but still apply, especially during special events (e.g. sports games, festivals, etc.) and inclement weather (i.e. snow). This is particularly true for mainly residential streets/areas.
If you have any question about parking in the City of Chicago, we encourage you to reach out to the Department of Transportation.
For this—and any other Chicago queries—you can call the City of Chicago’s information hotline: 311 (within Chicago) or 312-744-5000 (outside of Chicago).