Scenic Spots

Chicago: city of Blues and secret agents

Where gangster Al Capone used to enjoy the view, where secret agents like to shop, how guitarist/singer Buddy Guy is trying to save the blues – six Chicagoans talk about life in one of the United States' most exciting cities.

1. Sweet home, Chicago

Restaurant Signature Room in the Hancock Center

"Even now, after eight years, I never tire of this view," says Angela Roman, director of operations at the Signature Room restaurant on the 95th floor of the Hancock Center. "You can see for almost 80 miles on clear days, and the skyline is always changing with new skyscrapers going up and light and weather conditions never the same." Roman always had a head for heights, she says, but admits that getting used to the elevator ride every day was difficult. "After all, we are 300 meters above the street"

Information:Restaurant Signature Room in the Hancock Center, 875 N. Michigan Avenue, Tel. +1-312/787 95 96,

Blues-Club Buddy Guy's Legends

"When I came to Chicago in the 1950s, there were so many blues clubs here, you couldn't count them," says Buddy Guy. He is a veteran of the old days of blues from which legends like Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Waters and he himself emerged. Today, Guy runs one of the last surviving blues clubs. "I invested my life savings to try to save the blues," he says. "Otherwise, where's the next Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton or Stevie Ray Vaughan going to come from? They all started out on their careers in clubs like these"

Information: Blues-Club Buddy Guy's Legends: 700 S. Wabash, Tel. +1-312/427 11 90

The Boring Store

The shop where Patrick Shaffner and Shirley Sung work may be called "Boring Store" but it's anything but. "We are really a secret agent shop," they say, tongue in cheek, "but if we called ourselves that, no true agents could shop here." And whose idea was it to open a spy shop in the trendy Wicker Park neighborhood? "That information is classified," says Shaffner, but concedes this much, "the shop is backed by a non-profit organization that runs creative writing courses. The store helps to fund the teaching"

Information: The Boring Store: 1331 N. Milwaukee Avenue, Tel. +1-773/772 81 08,

2.Tattoos, architecture and contemporary history

Tatu Tattoo

Marci Mundo was 18 when she got her first tattoo – a flower on her foot – because she waited till it was legal. Eight years on, she is now manager of Tatu Tattoo, one of the oldest tattoo studios in Chicago. "I come from an artistic family," says Marci. "I've been interested in art for as long as I can remember." So she considers tattoos an art form? "Definitely! Here in the shop, we draw about 90 percent of the motifs ourselves, which means that nearly every tattoo is an original!"

Tatu Tattoo: 1754 W. North Avenue, Tel. +1-773/772 82 88,

Murphy/Jahn Architects

Helmut Jahn only intended to spend a couple of terms studying here when he came in 1966. "Back then, everything was much more focused on Chicago. This is where modern architecture has its roots." But the man from South Germany stayed on after graduating – and built a career as a world-famous architect. His company headquarters, a venerable, 40-story skyscraper, used to be one of the tallest buildings in the world. "You might be interested to know that the dome once housed the Stratosphere Lounge," says Jahn, "a bar that served alcohol during the Prohibition and was a frequent haunt of Al Capone"

Information:Murphy/Jahn Architects: 35 E. Wacker Drive,

Chicago Regal Theater

A place with a history: The Regal Theater opened in the 1920s and was the first large venue for black audiences. All the major black entertainers performed here. The New Regal Theater followed the Regal in the 1980s, but was forced to close around the turn of the millennium. Then a few years ago, new investors bought the historical building. "We wanted to give the Regal Theater back to the neighborhood," says general manager Rick McCoy. "This isn't one of the wealthiest communities, but people here have the same right to good entertainment as those in areas that are better off."

Information: Chicago Regal Theater: 1641 E. 79th Street, Tel. +1-773/768 99 00