Explore the city’s history through a series of galleries that highlight artifacts from the Museum’s remarkable collection. By no means a complete history, Chicago: Crossroads of America focuses on a selection of stories that illustrate Chicago’s crossroads nature and its national influence. The iconic L car no. 1 greets visitors at the entrance, and then the exhibition is divided into five thematic areas that explore various aspects of the city’s dynamic nature:

  1. City on the Make examines Chicago as a crossroads of economic and cultural exchange from prehistoric time to the present
  2. City in Crisis shows how conflicting social, economic, and political forces converging at the crossroads can explode in violent disorder, disrupting and changing the city
  3. Sweet Home Chicago explores how Chicago’s communities unite and divide along the lines of race, ethnicity, and class
  4. Second to None gives a presentation of Chicago’s many innovations and their far-reaching impact
  5. My Kind of Town discusses Chicago as a cultural crossroads where generations of people have gathered to play and celebrate

Within each thematic area, individual stories are arranged chronologically to illustrate how the city changed over time. Key themes overlap and illuminate the complex and often contested nature of Chicago’s past.

Guided Group Tours

Stories are always better when shared. Groups of 10 adults or more receive a discount when reserving at least 4 weeks in advance. Learn more about our Adult Group Tours options.

L car no. 1 once transported people from the Loop to the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Jackson Park. Since 2006, it has transported thousands of Museum visitors through time as they walked down its aisle, sat on its seats, and marveled at its stained-glass windows and woodwork. Now, L car no. 1 is in need of a tune-up. Please help us restore it to its original beauty and donate today.

Explore Chicago: Crossroads of America

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