Supporting education in history & architecture

Chicago Detours’

Educational Initiatives.

To support our company’s value to “educate with passion,” we’ve supported education about history and architecture in Chicago since our founding in 2010.

Our current partnership:

Chicago Foundation for Women’s South Side Giving Circle

In 2020 we created the Badass Women Journal, with eight fun watercolors of inspiring women, and $1 of each sale goes directly to the SSGC. This fierce group of women invests in the economic, social and political power of black women and girls.

Some of our past initiatives include:

Tour Guide Donation Partnerships

Until early 2020 when we stopped walking tours and started virtual events, tour guides donated 50% of their gratuities to local non-profit organizations with missions that supported education, history, and architecture. Past partners included Albany Park Theater Project, Archeworks, and the Rebuilding Exchange.

Free Guided Monadnock Tours

In 2018 and 2019 we offered free 30-minute tours of the historic Monadnock skyscraper, to increase awareness of the importance of historic preservation. All gratuities for these tours were donated to Preservation Chicago.

Free Tours for Chicago Public School Students

Our Community Gift Program, funded by gratuities from public tour guests, allowed us to offer a limited number of free architecture walking tours for Chicago public school students each year. These tours helped them interact with the city’s architecture and history firsthand, and to ask our tour guides questions.

Badass Women of Chicago History Storytelling Events

In March 2018 we launched an annual live storytelling event to spotlight overlooked women who had shaped Chicago’s history. In 2018 and 2019, we donated all our proceeds to Chicago Women’s Health Center.

Artist Residency Program

During the residency we provided artists with office/studio space in our office downtown with easy access to museums, architecture and public transportation to Chicago neighborhoods.

Fundraising Initiative to Support Historic Polish Restaurant

After learning that the pandemic had placed a financial strain on her business, we raised over $7500 on GoFundMe for Helena Madej, the owner of the historic Podhalanka restaurant in Noble Square. The restaurant was a stop on one of our walking tours, and an essential tie to the neighborhood’s Polish roots.

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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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