Typically we encounter Chicago through sports and music, film and television. We know the Bulls and Michael Jordan; Common and Kanye walked us around the bitterly cold corners of the Chi's South Side; years and years ago, Robert Johnson sang of the city in his instantly recognizable high and keening voice. Christopher Nolan turned the skyscrapers and streets into Gotham for Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, and ER showed us what a bloody nightmare the inside of Chicago's hospitals are. But where do you get at the real city, the neglected places, the spots left uncovered by popular culture?

Cue up this list. Complex has scoured the blocks of the Midwest's biggest city, checking down alleyways and lifting manholes to get at the teeming life beneath. For an insider's take, here is Windy City Confidential: 50 Unusual Chicago Destinations.

 

(For more of Megan's work, check out her tumblr.)

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