Chicago Detours Answers Questions

Chicago Detours treats our exploration of the city as an interactive, educational experience. We want to encourage your curiosity so we welcome questions. During my several years of working as a tour guide people have jokingly asked me if I ever make up answers. I’ve certainly eavesdropped on other guides with wild imaginations and an ability to talk convincingly, but I’ve learned long ago that I’m a bad liar so even if I wanted to I couldn’t make something up to my tour groups.

On this blog we’ll update you on answers to questions that came up on tours. I know a lot, but I won’t pretend like I know everything.

What’s the name of the old building with the Walgreens on the corner of Monroe and Clark?

The Rector Building.

What exactly goes on in the Art Deco substation that we discuss on the tour?

I would love to know myself. And another question – what does it look like inside? ComEd was not very open to providing answers when we contacted them due to security issues. One definition of “substation” stated that they are where power is generated and stored, and a tour guest added that this particular substation cannot generate power.

Why are there watery stains in a regular pattern all around the base of the First United Methodist Church?

It’s odd because the messy nature makes them look accidental, but they are all the same size and spacing. I’ve been talking with people at the church and it ends up that pews used to be flush with the wall. They redesigned it some years ago.

What are the initials C.F. in the stained glass in the church?

I was sure I had the answer to this buried in my brain but was confused because the letters are actually the other way around. F.C. is short for “First Church,” a nickname for this as it is considered the mother of Methodist churches in the Midwest (structurally it’s the fourth church they built since 1829 though).

What will the next new tour with Chicago Detours be about?

A few weeks ago we were still bouncing around ideas. We’ve decided: this summer in addition to our “Good Times on the Mag” walking tour, we’ll offer a bus tour about Chicago music history. Look out for more details soon. We’re really excited about it because we know that this is a topic very close to the hearts of many, and integral to exploring Chicago’s history and culture.

— Amanda Scotese, Executive Director


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Private Tour Coordinator and Tour Guide

There is no shortage of things to discover in Chicago—I love being an urban explorer and uncovering its hidden places. I have an MA in Public History from Loyola University Chicago, and I have worked as a museum educator and kindergarten teacher. My desire to learn new things fuels my passion for educating others, which I get to experience every day as a Chicago tour guide. I live in the northern neighborhood of Rogers Park.

“Our guide Ellen was exceptional and gifted with a great personal touch.”


Tour Guide

Whether you are a first-time visitor or a lifelong resident, the vibrant history and modern majesty of Chicago never ceases to amaze. I’m a graduate of Columbia College with an M.A. in Interdisciplinary Art. I’ve worked for many years as an educator at City Colleges of Chicago. As tour guide at Chicago Detours, I integrate my enthusiasm for culture and architecture with my passion as an educator. West Town/Noble Square area is home for me.

“Jen was a perfect storyteller and kept us spellbound for hours.”


Tour Guide

With our Chicago neighborhoods, vibrant cultural institutions and nearly two centuries of larger-than-life stories, there’s never a dull moment here! I’m a fifth generation Chicagoan and a graduate of Washington University in St. Louis. In addition to guiding tours, I’m a creative writer and amateur genealogist. I also enjoy the city’s dynamic theater scene. You can also read overlooked stories from 19th-century newspapers on my “Second Glance History” blog. I live in River North.


Tour Guide

Chicago is unique as it always evolves into the future while holding on to the past. I’m fascinated by how people latch on to old architecture but happily pave over others. My background is in theater and performance and I’ve been a tour guide here for more than 10 years. Currently I’m finishing my Master’s in Public History at Loyola University because I love to teach the history of this scrappy city. I’m in the Edgewater neighborhood.


Operations Coordinator and Tour Guide

Chicago’s history is so fascinating, you could spend a lifetime uncovering its secrets…I’m willing to give it a try! I have an M.A. in US History from the University of Nevada-Las Vegas and then pursued doctoral studies in Urban History at the University of Illinois at Chicago. I love to learn new aspects of Chicago’s rich history and then share my knowledge as a tour guide with Chicago Detours. I live in Ravenswood.

“Marie was a bubbling fountain of information and contagious enthusiasm.”


Operations Coordinator and Tour Guide

As a fourth generation Chicagoan, I have been living and loving Chicago by bike, on foot, public transit or automobile. I am a graduate of UIC where through the College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs, began my eagerness to understand the nature, history and impacts of urban planning and development. It is incredibly rewarding to give back to this wonderful city by helping out in the office of Chicago Detours. I live in the incredibly diverse neighborhood of Albany Park.
“Sonny was extremely knowledgeable about all things Chi-town.”
Wade K


Content Manager and Tour Guide

Chicago has so many neighborhoods, buildings, and by-ways that it’s hard to go long without seeing something new, or something familiar from a new angle. I studied Cinema History for my M.A. from the University of Chicago. I’ve worked as a culture writer for various publications and as an educator of the humanities at the City Colleges of Chicago. I’m thrilled to share my love of this city’s busy past and unique architectural spaces with Chicago Detours. I live in the Chicago neighborhood of Lincoln Park.

“Alex was fascinating to listen to. He clearly knows his history and it shows.”
Katie K

Amanda Scotese

Executive Director and Tour Guide

I’m an interpreter of personal stories from the past and the city’s landscape. I love to imagine what originally happened inside old unmarked buildings, and what forces have shaped their design. I studied Chicago history, architectural history, and anything Chicago-related through my M.A. in the Humanities at the University of Chicago. My love for stories was enriched by my B.A. in Literature from the University of Michigan. I’ve written travel articles for publications like Rick Steves’ Italy best-selling travel guides, the San Francisco Bay Guardian, and The Chicago Food Encyclopedia. I live in the Chicago neighborhood of West Avondale.
“You can TELL Amanda is hyper-passionate about doing the research and getting the story that nobody’s heard before.”
Shelby F

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