The Lake Michigan is with 58,000 square kilometers the third largest of the Great Lakes. The lake is about 500 km long and 190 km wide. Even on top of the highest skyscrapers of Chicago you can not see the opposite shore. Chicago has about 40 kilometers of coastline on the lake. Along the coast runs the Lake Shore Drive, one of the most important north-south routes in town. Thanks to Daniel Burnham's vision, huge parts of the shore line have been reserved for parks and beaches. His 1909 Plan of Chicago is also called Burnham Plan. Grant Park, Jackson Park and Lincoln Park are the largest green spaces at Lake Michigan.
The lake is also used for water sports. The best known beaches include Montrose Beach in the north, North Avenue Beach at Lincoln Park, Oak Street Beach, 31th Street Beach, Oakwood Beach, 63rd Beach at Jackson Park and Rainbow Beach in south of Chicago. Lake Michigan is a great place for sailing, from the lake you have the best views on the Chicago skyline.
The Chicago River gave the city its name. Originally, the river flowed into Lake Michigan. As the fast-growing city dumped its wastewater into the river, Lake Michigan was polluted and the water of the lake could no longer be used as fresh water. So the direction of flow was reversed in 1900. Since 1990 the river is relatively clean.
The "Grant Park" has the same meaning for Chicago like the Central Park for New York. The park was named after the Civil War General Ulysses Grant in 1901. The Park was built in 1844 and was called "Lake Park". If you have the chance go and visit the famous "Grand Park Music Festival".
The "Crown Fountain" is a Water-Video-Sculpture. The Spanish artist Jaume Plensa has recorded tapes of 1,000 citizens of chicago. Now they flicker as movies on two giant Video blocks.