Places that presidents call home often become major tourist attractions, from estates at Mount Vernon and Monticello, to Hodgenville, Ky., where Abe Lincoln's log cabin once stood, to Bill Clinton's boyhood home in Hope, Ark.
So what's the equivalent of Barack Obama's log cabin? Probably a 10th-floor apartment in Honolulu where he lived with his mother and grandparents. But to see all the places connected to Obama's life story, you'd have to visit three countries, six time zones and six states. Obama grew up in Hawaii and Indonesia, has roots in Kansas and Kenya, and went to school in Los Angeles, New York and Boston. He and his wife have raised their girls in Chicago, where tourists are already seeking out Obama haunts.
"Why do we make pilgrimages to the homes of presidents? Because these homes are the closest thing we have to secular shrines. We go there to worship ourselves and the idea of America," explained Rick Shenkman, a presidential historian at George Mason University in Virginia and editor of the online History News Network.
Shenkman said that presidents who grow up in humble circumstances -- including modest childhood homes -- add to the American dream that anybody can be president.
"In fact, very few presidents are born poor," Shenkman said. "Obama happens to fit the bill."
Obama has said that his unusual life story "spans miles and generations, races and realities." Here are some places to keep in mind if you want to create your own Obama Tour.
Roots: Kenya and Kansas
Obama's late father was from Kogelo, a village in western Kenya. Obama's half-brother, step-grandmother and other relatives still live there. The family homestead consists of three compounds made up of stone houses, banana trees, a field of maize and other crops. Obama's picture can be seen adorning billboards and buses all over Kenya; a national holiday was declared after his election.
To reach Kogelo, you fly from Nairobi to Kisumu on the shores of Lake Victoria, then drive an hour to the village, partly on a rough dirt road. So far, the only tourists who have made it there are journalists.
Obama also has roots in Kansas, where his late mother, Stanley Ann, was born. His maternal grandmother, Madelyn Payne Dunham, grew up in Augusta, near Wichita. His grandfather, Stanley Dunham, grew up in El Dorado, where Obama made a campaign stop in January.
Childhood: Hawaii and Indonesia
Obama was born in Honolulu and lived with his mother and grandparents in a 10th-floor two-bedroom apartment at 1617 S. Beretania St. He visited his grandmother there during the campaign; she died shortly before Election Day.
Obama's mother married an Indonesian and in 1967, they moved to Jakarta. Obama's sister Maya was born there. They lived first in a humble home on Haji Ramli Tengah Street with chickens and ducks in the backyard, and later in a Dutch colonial-style house in one of the most prestigious neighborhoods in Jakarta on Taman Amir Hamza Street, which is virtually unchanged three decades later. Obama first attended a Catholic school, Franciscus Assisi Elementary, and later a state-run secular school, Menteng 1 Elementary.
At age 10, Obama returned to Hawaii, where he lived with his grandparents until he was 18. He was a student at the Punahou School and played basketball on a team that won the state championship his senior year.
Last summer, Obama took a vacation on Oahu with his family. They visited Aloha Tropical Farms, Valley of the Temples and the Pearl Harbor memorial. They snorkeled in Hanauma Bay, picnicked at Ala Moana Beach Park and enjoyed the view from the Pali Lookout. Obama visited his grandfather's grave at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific; he also golfed at Luana Hills Country Club in Kailua and Olomana Golf Links in Waimanalo.
Places where the Obamas dined during their getaway included Alan Wong's Restaurant, 1857 S. King St., and Indigo Restaurant, 1121 Nuuanu Ave. At Island Snow Hawaii, which has several locations, they slurped an icy dessert called shave ice.
College and law school: Occidental, Columbia, Harvard
Obama attended Occidental College in Eagle Rock, a northeastern suburb of Los Angeles, west of Pasadena, from 1979 to 1981. He lived in a dorm at Haines Hall his first year and off campus his second year.
In 1981, he transferred to Columbia University, at 116th Street and Broadway in Manhattan. A political science major, he received his bachelor's degree in 1983. He lived in several apartments, including at 622 W. 114th St. and 334 E. 94th St.
Obama was at Harvard Law School in Cambridge, Mass., from 1988 to 1991. He attended classes at Langdell Hall, played basketball in Hemenway Gymnasium and was elected the first black president of the Harvard Law Review. He lived in nearby Somerville, Mass., in an apartment at 365 Broadway.
Interest in Obama sites in Chicago is so strong that the Chicago Convention and Tourism Bureau's website at choosechicago.com now showcases places where the Obamas eat and shop. They include Topolobampo, 445 N. Clark St. (upscale Mexican food); MacArthur's, 5412 W. Madison St. (soul food); and 57th Street Books, 1301 E. 57th St.
As a community organizer in the mid-1980s in Chicago, Obama spent a lot of time at the Altgeld Gardens projects at 130th Street on the South Side.
He returned to Chicago after earning his law degree, taught at the University of Chicago and eventually entered politics. He now lives with his family at 5046 S. Greenwood Ave., purchased for $1.65 million in 2005 in a historic district of the Kenwood area, an affluent, educated neighborhood on the South Side.
Obama gets his hair cut at the Hyde Park Hair Salon & Barber Shop, 5234 S. Blackstone Ave., and works out at the East Bank Club, 500 N. Kingsbury St. Favorite Obama family eateries include Pizza Capri, 1501 E. 53rd St., and Calypso Cafe, 5211 S. Harper Ave. The church the Obamas left due to controversial remarks by the Rev. Jeremiah Wright is Trinity United Church of Christ, 400 W. 95th St.
As for the Obamas' next address, you won't need to look it up: 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
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