Get to Know Chicago Detours Guide Elizabeth Tieri

Being a Chicago Detours guide is very often a terrific job. We get to show people around a city we love and illuminate its history and architecture for them. Tour guests often ask us how we got into being a Chicago Detours guide or other questions about our backgrounds and interests. We figured, why not ask those questions ourselves? So today we’d like to introduce you to Elizabeth Tieri, an all-star Chicago Detours guide.

Chicago Detours guide Elizabeth Tieri
All-star guide Elizabeth in action. Photo by Cherie Tieri

How did you become a Chicago Detours guide?

I met Amanda in 2011 (ed – the Founder and Executive Director of Chicago Detours) at a literary event I was hosting, so that when she was throwing an historic poetry event a few months later, she invited me to read.  By the end of the evening, I talked her into letting me interview to be a guide.

What’s your favorite public tour?

The Historic Chicago Walking Bar Tour has a special place in my heart, because it was the public tour I was hired to give and it was brand new at the time, like me. Plus, I love going to the Billy Goat and talking about jazz.

What’s your favorite private tour?

Jazz, Blues, and Beyond Bus Tour all the way, because I love to get out of downtown and show people a little of the South Side.  And we get to visit some of my favorite places in the city, like the Green Mill.

What downtown building do you most love taking tour guests into? And outside of downtown?

I’m a sucker for the Chicago Cultural Center.  I love libraries and that Tiffany glass still gives me goosebumps.  Outside of downtown, I really love the little building on the platform bridge by Ping Tom Park.  I have always dreamed of living there.

Good choice, Elizabeth.

Is there a Chicago building that’s been demolished that you wish was still around?

Ooh that’s tricky.  I definitely wish we still had the Home Insurance Building simply because it was the first skyscraper.  And the recreated rooms of Louis Sullivan’s Chicago Stock Exchange at the Art Institute make me wish it was still here. But more personally, I wish we still had Meigs Field, because when they made that a concert venue they ruined 12th Street Beach, which used to be my favorite beach.

What’s your best memory as a tour guide?

Honestly, probably my first private tour, which was an eight-hour day with a few older French men.  I was really thrown in the deep end with that one, and it was a blast. The guests were thrilled with the sites we explored all over the city, and they even passed me their contact at the end to stay in touch.  It was such a joy to show them my city that I was hooked immediately.

Chicago Detours guide Elizabeth Tieri
Photo by Cherie Tieri

A Chicago book or novel to recommend

For a great Chicago read, I’d say The Man with the Golden Arm. Nelson Algren’s voice in that novel is so on point.  It’s gritty yet poetic and truly sounds how Chicagoans talk.

What’s next on your Chicago reading list?

Next I’m reading Greg Kot’s biography of Mavis Staples, I’ll Take You There, which is AWESOME.  One Book One Chicago, yada yada

What’s your second-favorite city?

Haha, I love the assumption that Chicago is my favorite. 🙂 Paris for its history and its beauty as well as its food.

Neighborhood or suburb you’d like to explore more?

Beverly because I’ve sadly never had a rainbow cone, and I’d like to get on my bike and cycle the Major Taylor Trail.  Both are on my bucket list for this summer.

Thank you to Elizabeth for sharing her time and thoughts with us. You can learn even more from her on one of the many public and private tours she leads for us each week.

– Alex Bean, Chicago Detour Content Manager


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