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USA Radio
Chicago, Illinois

Chicago’s History, Architecture and Culture with Andrew Davis

By Kate Donnelly

Director Andrew Davis was born and raised in Chicago, and grew up with a strong sense of family heritage. Davis fondly recalls a childhood in America’s heartland, embedded in ethnic, cultural and economic roots. His parents, both children of immigrants, reminded him, if he couldn’t get a job in Chicago, he couldn’t get a job anywhere. So begins his Chicago story, a place where Davis invented his career and made his first movie.

Shooting the action-thriller The Fugitive, both he and native Chicagoan actor Harrison Ford were excited to be home. The film opens with sweeping aerial shots of Chicago’s iconic skyline. Davis says, “We wanted to have this tiny little character lost, running away, trying to hide in this incredible fabric.” The fictitious U.S. Marshal's office presented stellar views of Michigan Avenue, the Wrigley Building and the Chicago River.

Chicago is layered in history. Davis speaks knowledgeably of Civil War origins and where Abraham Lincoln was nominated. He remains in awe of Chicago’s Worlds Fair of 1893, which showcased electricity and the first Ferris wheel. “It changed the world,” he says.

In modern Chicago, Davis finds openness and peace in the big city. He treasures the world-class architecture from Frank Lloyd Wright and Louis Sullivan, and access to great art exhibits, science and culture. “I think Chicago and its people and its architecture are connected. It’s dynamic; it’s gutsy. It’s got the ability to make changes and radical kinds of twists and turns,” he says.

For Davis, a leisure day Chicago is best spent at the Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History and the Shedd Aquarium. He also likes to bike and walk along the beautiful lakefront and sail on Lake Michigan, which reminds him of an ocean. Recalling Carl Sandburg’s 1916 poem, Davis reminds us, “Chicago is called the city of broad shoulders, but it’s also a city of great contrasts.”

For more information, visit Our Chicago Guide.

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