Bridgeport Neighborhood Creative Production “Detour”

We are getting pretty excited for “Bridgeport History of Creative Production,” a one-off “Detour” on Saturday, August 16th, that’s currently almost sold out. I’ve been wanting to do a tour of the Bridgeport neighborhood ever since I got the special opportunity to step inside the Decorator’s Supply factory a few years ago.

Chicago’s oldest neighborhood has a great mix of historic warehouses, contemporary art galleries, and regular working class Chicago homes. For this special one-time-only tour, we will visit artist studios, a factory, a warehouse, a church, an artisanal bakery, and more. The overall idea of this walking tour is to explore how Chicago reflects the shift in cities as traditional industrial centers to being hubs of cultural production. (Since writing this post we’ve designed our Big Shoulders Historic Bar Bus Tour to explore Bridgeport all the time with private tour groups.)

architecture chicago factory bridgeport
Photo Credit: Amanda Scotese

Decorator’s Supply

A highlight of the tour will be exclusive entrance into Decorator’s Supply, which manufactures ornate architectural details out of plaster and resin. They started business with the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, and stepping into their factory is like a step back in time. When I got the rare chance to tour Decorator’s Supply a few years ago, I went a little crazy with my camera. Afterwards I made a video of the images. I embedded the video in a holiday email to our subscribers, and the subject line was “Getting Plastered for the Holidays?” It had a very high open rate!

bridgeport neighborhood tour
Photo Credit: Amanda Scotese

I initially became familiar with Bridgeport years ago through art shows and music performances at Ed Majerski’s Co-Prosperity Sphere gallery, and also his mom’s neighborhood taproom a couple blocks away. Then a good friend of mine moved to the Bridgeport neighborhood, and from our wanderings I got to know this South-Side neighborhood a bit better.

An Emerging Arts Scene?

While I’m no expert on the neighborhood, I have dug into some interesting architectural details along our walk. Really the focus of this tour will be our stops, and the various people there who will share their stories. At Bridgeport Art Center the tour guests will explore hidden nooks and crannies of this former department store warehouse. Down the block at Zhou B Art Center, we will hear about how two  brothers catapulted to the top of the contemporary art world and came to call Bridgeport home.

A highlight and significant portion of the tour will be at the factory of Decorator’s Supply, a virtual white wonderland of cornices, pilasters, corbels, capitals and mantles. Then we will take a walk and look closely at details in the industrial and residential architecture of Bridgeport to better understand this shift from a working-class neighborhood with industry to the hipper place of artistic creation that it has become. We’ll pop into a historic church, and at Co-Prosperity Sphere gallery owner Ed Marszewski will share his story as an artist, publisher and entrepreneur with many creative projects in the Bridgeport neighborhood.

bridgeport bakery
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Pleasant House Bakery

Lastly we will conclude with a light lunch from Pleasant House Bakery (included) and beverages (on you) at Maria’s Packaged Goods and Community Bar.

Hope You Can Join Us!

Guests meet at the Bridgeport Art Center at 1200 W. 35th Street at 10:30am this Saturday and it works out great to come early for the farmer’s market that takes place out front. The $30 per person ticket includes tour guide commentary, exclusive entrance into historic buildings, and a savory pie and treat. Currently just six spots are left, and all past Detours one-off events have sold-out.

— Amanda Scotese, Executive Director 


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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.

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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.

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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.


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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.


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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.

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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.
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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.

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Amanda Scotese

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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.
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