Architectural History Tours of Chicago with SAH

Architecture geeks of Chicago are drooling over the agenda for the Society of Architectural Historians conference in Chicago this April, including a special Chicago seminar and 30 very special architectural history tours of Chicago.

Like any academic conference, the SAH brings together scholars to present their papers of new research. Within 36 paper sessions, around 180 architectural historians will discuss their topics in the grand history of the built environment from antiquity to the current day. Speakers include architecture critic Blair Kamin, as well as “History Detectives” host Gwendolyn Wright.

Unlike a regular academic conference, the SAH opens up possibilities for the public to stir up their curiosities of Chicago topics in architectural history. A half day seminar, “Magnitudes of Change: Local Sites and Global Concerns in Chicago’s Built Environment,” will have two panel discussions with representatives from a variety of local organizations, including architecture firms, educational institutions, and non-profits. It is funded in part with a grant from the Graham Foundation, which is always up to cool and progressive projects in architecture. 

architectural history tours of chicago kinzie steet bridge

The architectural history tours of Chicago will showcase Chicago neighborhoods and downtown architecture, and these are available to the public with registration beginning on February 16. Architectural historians, authors, and architects will lead these tours. As a tour company ourselves, this is the part of the conference that we are most looking forward to. “Cutting-Edge Adaptive Reuse: The Chicago Athletics Association Hotel” will visit this beautiful building that has been boarded up for years and will reopen as a hotel. “Recent Skyscrapers on North-South Wacker Drive” will showcase the incredible building activity in this part of downtown. And neighborhoods tours will explore the historic and contemporary architecture of Pilsen, Pullman, Uptown, and the new 606 Urban Park. Tours will also addresses features of the built environment that to many would be a gray area for their definition of architecture, such as “Chicago’s Moveable Bridges,” as you see pictured above. Many other options are available. 

This is the 75th anniversary of the conference, so a grand birthday party will be held on April 17 at the Rookery. The Society of Architectural Historians, which is based in Chicago, has their conference in different cities each year, so this is a special opportunity to connect with the study of buildings and how they reflect changes in the forces of politics, culture, social uses, engineering, and technology.

Registration is available now here.

— Amanda Scotese, Executive Director 

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Ellen

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.”
Robert
GetYourGuide

Jen

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.”
Heather
TripAdvisor

Elyse

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.

Anthony

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.

Marie

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.”
Lorit
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Sonny

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.”
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Alex

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.”
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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.”
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