The Atlas Obscura Guide to Scientific Chicago - Atlas Obscura
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The Atlas Obscura Guide to Scientific Chicago

The Windy City has tall things, cultural things and yummy things (you can’t argue with deep dish pizza). But it’s also a haven for scientific knowledge and history. These spots hold everything from old medical treatments to food that’s more like a science experiment than a meal.



American Science and Surplus

You’ll be blinded with science if you visit this store on N. Milwaukee Avenue, which sells surplus goods like microscopes and anatomy kits. It began in the late 1930s when a Chicago man started selling thrown-away lenses and other glass items. The store evolved and changed owners to become American Science and Surplus in the 1980s. Be prepared to fight through the crowds of junior high science teachers piling up on lab supplies. (Photo)

International Museum of Surgical Science

Scared of needles? Then you might need to shield your eyes from some of the ghastly instruments on display at this museum operated by the International College of Surgeons. Located on N. Lake Shore Drive, the museum houses permanent artifacts like x-ray machines and literature on once-prominent doctors in addition to ever-changing exhibits. (Photo)



Merz Apothecary

Back in the way day, pharmacists kinda sorta acted like doctors. They often prescribed their own remedies for various ailments without consulting an M.D. first. Tsk, tsk. When Peter Merz opened his store on the city’s north side in 1875, he termed it apothecary to separate what he did from wayward pharmacy. He attracted a clientele of mainly Europeans who still favored Old World remedies. The store today still carries a similar flavor, but stocks more modern inventory ranging from skin care products to vitamins. (Photo)



Alinea Restaurant

A restaurant as a science experiment? Sounds unreal, but it exists on North Halsted.
Alinea practices molecular gastronomy, which breaks down the chemical components of food to reinvent them. The result is a menu full of dishes like mustard ice cream and liquid nitrogen frozen marzipan. Eat up! (Photo)