Get Ready to Watch the Chicago Marathon

Autumn in Chicago isn’t just about the crisp air, colorful leaves, and pumpkin-spiced everything. It’s also about the thrilling sound of thousands of feet pounding the pavement, as the city gears up for the iconic Bank of America Chicago Marathon. For our residents at Optima Signature and Optima Lakeview, this October isn’t just any other month; it’s a front-row seat to one of the world’s premier running events.

Circle Sunday, October 8, 2023, on your calendar. The marathon unfolds in Grant Park, with gradual starts ensuring smooth sailing. For those not racing, join the celebration at Abbott 27.2 Fest from 9:30 a.m. until 4 p.m. near the start line for a day full of music, food and fun. While Grant Park’s start and finish zones have some viewing restrictions, the race course offers numerous sweet spots for spectator cheering and encouragement.

The first mile of the marathon, Image via Flickr by Paladin27

The annual footrace is truly a global gathering, where more than 45,000 runners from every state in the U.S., and over 100 countries worldwide come together. Taking the runners on a grand tour, the 26.2-mile route dives deep into the city’s heart, stretching from Wrigleyville to the North, Pilsen and Little Italy to the West and the historic Douglass, near Guaranteed Rate Field, to the South. 

The prestigious event is more than just a marathon; it’s one of only six World Marathon Majors across the globe. For Optima Signature and Optima Lakeview residents, you have the privilege of stepping right outside to cheer on the incredible racers. And for the Optima Verdana community, consider making the short trip down from Wilmette. It’s a spectacle you won’t want to miss. You can find more details about the iconic event here!

Chicago’s Inaugural NASCAR Street Race Experience

Chicago is a city of firsts. From constructing the inaugural skyscraper in 1885 to welcoming the first Ferris Wheel at the World’s Columbian Exposition, it now sets the stage for the country’s first-ever NASCAR Cup Series street race. This highly anticipated spectacle promises more than just a 12-turn, 2.2-mile street race; it offers a weekend brimming with music, delectable local cuisines, and endless fun for attendees.

Residents of Optima Signature will only be a short walk away from the action when the race takes over Grant Park from July 1st-2nd, 2023. The carefully curated course runs through Chicago’s downtown streets, immersing visitors in the heart of the city. Starting from the iconic Buckingham Fountain, the race weaves through South Columbus Drive, Michigan Avenue, and South Lake Shore Drive. This route places drivers and visitors adjacent to some of Chicago’s most recognized architectural landmarks, including The Art Institute of Chicago, 333 South Wabash, The Congress Plaza Hotel, and One Museum Park.

The race weekend kicks off on Saturday, July 1st, with The Loop 121, spotlighting NASCAR’s rising stars, followed by the Grant Park 200 on Sunday, July 2, showcasing the biggest names in racing. While the races occupy only parts of each afternoon, artists such as The Chainsmokers, Miranda Lambert, and The Black Crowes are slated to fill the park with music between races.

If you haven’t secured your tickets for this inaugural event, you can find them here. And rest assured, if you’re not among the 50,000 expected attendees for the NASCAR Street Race, Chicago plans to host the races through 2025.

Chicago’s Public Art: Agora

At Optima, our appreciation for sculpture runs deep, with Optima co-founder David Hovey Sr. expanding the design reach of Optima to include his own original sculptures. Indulging in our love for the craft, we’re exploring Chicago’s public art, piece-by-piece. This week, it’s all about Agora, by Polish sculptor and fiber artist Magdalena Abakanowicz (1930-2017).


It’s hard to miss the sculpture Agora, prominently displayed on the southwest side of Grant Park in Chicago. The 106-foot tall creation consists of a cluster of headless, walking figures, each made out of hollow and faded cast iron that was crafted in a Polish foundry. The artwork invites viewers to walk through the figures and contemplate. The figures themselves appear to be milling about in a crowd, all aimed in different directions. 

The name Agora is a reference to the urban meeting places of Ancient Greek city states. The artist, Abakanowicz, grew up during World War II with an intense fear of crowds, and that claustrophobia is reflected in her work. Inspired, or rather horrified by, the groupthink of that time and Soviet rule, Abakanowicz brought the sculpture to life. She began working on creating large headless figures in the 1970s, using burlap and resin before the final cast iron form, and the sculpture was formally installed in Chicago in 2006. 

Agora is Magdalena Abakanowicz’s largest permanent installation. However, she’s well known for her other textile sculptures and biomorphic forms, the most famous of which are her Abakans creations. The overwhelming response to her Abakans is what launched her to an international art spotlight, where she’s now regarded as one of Poland’s most internationally acclaimed artists. 

We’re honored to celebrate the innovation, creativity, work and life of Magdalena Abakanowicz, a phenomenal woman and artist.

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