I've been living in Chicago for over 20 years and decided to buy a 'guide' to my own city for the first time ever. I'm planning on moving soon, and want to take advantage of my own home town as a tourist, so I purchased this to get an idea of what I need to cross of my must-see to-do list before exploring new cities. The book is sectioned out into a few generic sections (hotels, restaurants) and surprisingly non-traditional sections ('urban life' and 'escapes' outside of the city), which offers a range of the expected 5 star fine dining restaurants and hotels Chicago is known for -- as well as a few up and coming edgy spots outside of downtown (Aviary, Trenchermen, Longman & Eagle, Big Star -- creative restaurant recos & Waldorf Astoria, The James, The Wit, standard hotel reco's, meh) but the sections are too short to really give you a true guide to the city. There is an average of 5 or 6 reco's per category. The only thing that I felt was interesting, was the drive-worthy escapes, which covered Wisconsin and Indiana (but why?) - the book barely covered BEAUTIFUL southwest Michigan just 1.5 hours away. For a quick jaunt, Benton Harbor area up to Saugatuck deserves at least 2 recommendations for this category. I do love that Wallpaper included the Mies van der Rohe 'Farnsworth' house in Plano, IL. These are reco's are mostly are hip and edgy, and mostly pretty costly.
Mies always said "Design is in the Details" -- but I feel like Wallpaper missed the mark on a few important design details that I expected from a great curatorial design magazine. First, the book does not say "2014" or is marked with a dated copyright mark at all inside or outside, which I was disappointed in. If I collect these books, I want them to have date stamps so I know how recent they are, like the Not For Tourist guides that I can organize by year on the spine (PLEASE ADD THIS, WALLPAPER!).
Secondly, the map of Chicago is LITERALLY backwards. I don't know how this was approved by any expert or researcher of this city for Wallpaper. In the back, the map folds out horizontally, so the streets that run North to South are viewed as East to West, and the East to West streets are put on the map as North to South. Everyone that knows Chicago, even at best for a day, knows that this city is one of the easiest cities to navigate because of it's grid system and well-designed urban planning. I LOVE THIS ABOUT MY CITY, and so do tourists. It makes it easy to get anywhere by bus, train or cab and know where you're going with a sense of logic. This map is not at all logical. Understandably, the map must be folded out horizontally, but due to this, for a city like Chicago, it must be viewed vertically and therefor the design of the map should be labeled to read this way. The text is facing the reader horizontally, with no instruction to turn the map vertically North to South to understand where you are, which is very deceiving. I feel bad for anyone new to Chicago who gets lost due to this unfortunately inaccurate map design. USE GOOGLE MAPS INSTEAD.