Chicago's downtown skyscrapers may be world-renowned, but some of our favorite buildings can be found where you least expect them.
Garfield Park Field House
The “Gold Dome,” overshadowed by the nearby conservatory, is a Spanish Baroque Revival wonder, with its elaborate facade and marble-clad rotunda. The dome was designed in 1928 by architects Michaelsen and Rognstad, who also designed the On Leong Chinese Merchant’s Association Building in Chinatown. 100 N Central Park Ave, 312-746-5092
Humboldt Park Boathouse
A stunning example of the Prairie School style of architecture, it was built in 1907 by Jens Jensen and Richard E. Schmidt, Garden & Martin. In the summer, La Palma restaurant serves Puerto Rican food you can enjoy out on the patio or under the wide arches, overlooking the lagoon. 1400 N Sacramento Ave, 312-742-7549
South Shore Cultural Center
Designed in the Mediterranean Revival style in 1916 by Marshall and Fox (architects of the Drake Hotel), this former private club excluded Jews and African-Americans before it (not surprisingly) went out of business. Thankfully, the Park District purchased the building in 1974 before it could be demolished. The massive building boasts mirrored hallways and mosaic tile floors. 7059 S South Shore Dr, 773-256-0149
The Columbus Park Refectory
This 1922 Mediterranean Revival–style building is a wonderful place to spend a lazy summer afternoon. The Jazz Institute offers an array of concerts under the portico, and there is a dance hall with glass doors that open onto a terrace (“Here comes the bride…”). Or just check out the WPA mural inside by Edwin Terwilliger depicting the Niña, Pinta and Santa Maria in honor of the park’s namesake explorer. 5701 W Jackson Blvd, 773-287-0586
Pulaski Park Field House
There are more than 50 murals in 11 different field houses in the city, but we are especially fond of Allegorical Scene, designed by Jas Oilgert, which frames the arch over the auditorium stage. Allegory was all the rage when this piece (figures representing the arts) was created in the mid-1920s. The building, designed by William Carbys Zimmerman in 1914, is a bonus: The three-story brick structure with a tower, dormers and verandas was inspired by Eastern European architecture. 1419 W Blackhawk St, 312-742-7559
Buildings are open during normal park hours. Visit chicagoparkdistrict.com for info on special events and classes.