One often hears the term "neighborhood gem" attributed to a restaurant or a bar. But, could this term be used to describe a world-class neighborhood gem of a museum? Yes!
In Chicago’s iconic Pilsen neighborhood, recently named one of the “12 Coolest Neighborhoods in the World” by Forbes, you will find the National Museum of Mexican Art, the first Latino museum in the U.S. accredited by the American Alliance of Museums. The museum defines Mexican culture as Sin Fronteras (without borders) and it houses one of the largest collections of Mexican art, with 10,000 pieces dating from ancient times to the present day.
Southwest Airlines has served as the Official Airline of the National Museum of Mexican Art for nearly 10 years. We are proud to support this cultural icon and neighborhood gem. Our financial contributions help keep their incredible collection accessible to the public for free.
Founded by Carlos Tortolero and other educators in 1982 the Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum, as it was originally named, sought to highlight the richness and beauty of Mexican art—something that was not being represented in other museums at that time. In 2001, the museum underwent an expansion that tripled its space in Pilsen and was renamed the National Museum of Mexican Art.
The Pilsen neighborhood is widely referred to as the heart of Chicago’s Mexican community. Near the museum, you’ll discover murals and other street art, traditional and gourmet Mexican restaurants, and hip coffee shops. Plan to spend the day exploring what Pilsen has to offer. Located just southwest of downtown, it’s easily accessible by public transportation and a quick stop away from Chicago Midway Airport. Perfect for a day trip on Southwest Airlines! With up to 250 departures a day to 69 cities, Chicago (Midway) is Southwest’s busiest airport in terms of daily departures. That means there are plenty of convenient, affordable, and reliable Southwest non-stop flights to choose from to help get you to Chicago and to see this museum.
The museum proudly serves as the cultural hub of its community—hosting performances, workshops, and cultural events. Additionally, the museum offers a wide range of educational programming for students, adults, and teachers. Cap your visit to the museum with a stop in their gift shop Tienda Tzintzuntzán—Place of the Hummingbird. It’s filled with beautiful items honoring the rich Mexican culture—artwork, jewelry, textiles, books, and toys from regions throughout Mexico.
One of the National Museum of Mexican Art’s most popular events is Diá de Los Muertos Xicágo, celebrated annually in November. The museum invites the community to celebrate Día de los Muertos as they transform the Museum and surrounding outdoor area into a beautiful space to remember departed loved ones. On this special day, guests will enjoy ofrenda (altar) demonstrations, live musical performances, face painting, art activities, and Pan de Muerto (traditional Day of the Dead Bread). Families and individuals are invited to create their own ofrendas (altars) in Harrison Park, transforming the soccer field into a festive community gathering place.
Chicago is a city of world-class museums and one of the finest can be found in the heart of Chicago’s Mexican community!
For information about the hours and location of the museum, visit nationalmuseumofmexicanart.org .
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St. Patrick’s Day is a pretty big deal here in Chicago. We dye the Chicago River green, men in plaid skirts squeeze bagpipes all across the city, and mountains of corned beef and cabbage are washed down with gallons of green beer. This St. Pat’s Day is very special to Southwest Airlines because we will be celebrating 30 years of service at MDW. The day we started service, our very own Herb Kelleher (beloved son of Ireland, himself) served as Honorary Grand Marshall of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
We began our service with seven daily flights to STL (also celebrating 30 years on March 17th) in 1985. We had about 40 Employees and operated from one gate on old MDW’s A Concourse. We grew slowly and steadily until we maxed out at 44 departures from 4 gates in 1991. We couldn’t get more gates because of Midway Airlines’ dominance at MDW. Then, on November 14, 1991, Midway Airlines ceased operations due to bankruptcy. Our Teams quickly went to work overnight (!) installing our equipment at the now empty gates. We quickly expanded and with the current schedule, we operate 258 daily flights (most in the Southwest system) to 64 cities from 32 gates. We currently have 4,295 MDW-based Employees. So, Aviation’s Busiest Square Mile is also Southwest busiest airport in terms of daily departures.
So, it seems very fitting that this month, we unveil the first of our specialty airplanes to bear the bold new look, Illinois One. Look for this beautiful aircraft at an airport near you soon. The original Illinois One was unveiled in our hangar April 14, 2008. Hundreds of Employees, guests, and Community Leaders joined Gary, Herb, Colleen, Mayor Richard M. Daley, yes, even our infamous then-governor, Rod Blagojevich to toast our Illinois One!
As they probably never say in Texas, Erin Go Bragh, y’all. Happy 30th Chicago Midway!
Photos courtesy of Paul Thompson
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Beginning October 13, Dallas Love Field is FREE! The restrictions of the Wright Amendment will be gone, ushering in nonstop destinations that span from coast to coast. Southwest has been counting down the years and weeks (literally—we have a billboard at the Love Field entrance and a countdown clock in our Headquarters lobby) until we can say, “Goodbye, Wright Amendment. Hello, America!"
We are excited to begin this new era by serving five new nonstop destinations on October 13, followed by ten additional new nonstop destinations on November 2. The addition of these 15 new nonstop destinations will bring Southwest to a total of 31 nonstop destinations from Love Field.
In anticipation of this momentous event, each week we will take a look at one of the cities that North Texas Customers will be able to soon visit nonstop on Southwest. Each post is written by a Southwest Employee who is affiliated with the city and can give an insider’s view of what to see and do while visiting. Enjoy!
When folks think about Chicago, the likely images that pop into their heads are of blizzards, skyscrapers, and wedges of deep-dish pizza tethered to its pan by long strands of mozzarella. All true, yes. But Chicago, my beloved hometown, is much more than those things. We are a city of neighborhoods, a cultural melting pot, and a place that is as wonderful to visit in chilly 28 degree weather as it is in the balmy, breezy days of Chicago’s all-too-brief summer.
I was born and raised in Chicago. In 1978, I moved to Dallas. In 1980, I was lucky enough to land a job at Southwest Airlines, which had just started flying outside the borders of the great state of Texas. My good fortune continued when on St. Patrick’s Day in 1985, Southwest started flying to Chicago’s Midway Airport. I headed home and have remained here happily ever since. Although, I have to admit, last winter’s Polar Vortex tested my love like the SATs.
In terms of daily departures, Chicago is Southwest’s busiest airport, serving connections to over 60 cities with 270 nonstop departures a day. Like the variety of travelers filling the airport, Chicago has a huge variety of things to do! There’s no way to see and do it all, so here are some of my suggestions.
Your Chicago to-do list:
Al’s Beef on Taylor Street: One must-try food that is uniquely Chicago is the Italian Beef sandwich. My favorite “beef stand” is Al’s Beef on Taylor Street in Chicago’s Little Italy neighborhood. It begins with a huge roast of beef that’s cooked with loads of garlic and Italian seasonings. To serve, the thin slices of meat are rewarmed in the hot ‘gravy’ (the juices collected while the beef cooked).
Mario’s Italian Lemonade: Open only during summer, they have been scooping Italian Lemonade from the little shack on Taylor Street for well over 50 years. You see, Mario’s isn’t the ‘sip on the porch’ kind of lemonade. It’s frozen, not too sweet, and comes in a variety of real fruit flavors. My favorite is watermelon. If you’re feeling adventurous, try their Lupini Beans.
Pilsen: One of my favorite neighborhoods to visit is Pilsen, the heart of Chicago’s huge Mexican American community. Take the CTA’s Pink Line to the 18th Street or Damen stop. From there you can walk a few blocks to the National Museum of Mexican Art (admission is free). Also, check out Pilsen’s shops and inexpensive, authentic taquerias.
Magnificent Mile: This mile strip off of Michigan Avenue is a world renowned shopper’s paradise. No matter what you’re shopping for, you’ll find a store for it. From top name brands to small boutiques, the Magnificent Mile has it all, and it would take you days to see everything!
Millennium Park: This iconic park, home to The Bean, is a must-see for visitors of all ages. Get out in the Chicago sun during our brief summer or ice skate your heart away during the winter. In summer, be sure to beat the heat at Crown Fountain—a large screen showing a face spits water at you!
Architecture: If you like architecture, Chicago is one of the best modern cities to visit. Tour the city’s great features aboard a river boat on the Chicago River. You absolutely have to see The Willis (Sears) Tower and the John Hancock Building.
My City Secret:
Neighborhoods: Venture out. Chicago has many different facets, so see a little bit of everything! Take the beaten paths away from chain restaurants and explore. Your wallet will thank you…as will your tummy and your soul.
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