Get to Know Chicago Detours Guide Morgan Lott

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 here’s Morgan Lott, who has recently moved to a new position at The Chopping Block, but served as a guide and as our Private Tour Coordinator for over a year.

Detours guide Morgan Lott Chicago skyline

How did you become a Chicago Detours guide?

I got an email from my grad school listserv. It was the first time I had thought about tourism as a career and tour guide as a job, but when I looked back on what I had done up to that point it made a lot of sense. I always wanted to be a professional talker.

What’s your favorite public tour?

My favorite tour to lead is the Historic Chicago Walking Bar Tour – I love watching guests become friends over the course of the tour. My favorite tour to go on is our Best Architecture Tour for Design Lovers. I studied popular culture in grad school, so go figure.

Detours guide Morgan Lott Historic Chicago Walking Bar Tour intense face
A tour guest took this photo of Morgan keeping her guests ENGAGED.

What’s your favorite private tour?

Our Big Shoulders Historic Bar and Food Tour connects guests with the community of Chicago and shares an often-overlooked side of the city’s history. The folks who own the bars on the tour are also so fun to visit and work with.

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

Downtown it has be our home away from home the Monadnock Building. I got the opportunity to show folks around during our Holiday Happy Hour last year. I walk into the Monadnock 5 – 6 mornings a week, and each time I see something new–it was lovely to share this place with people.

Outside of downtown it is probably Holy Trinity Polish Catholic Church on our Old Polonia and Wicker Park Walking Food Tour. Guests are always a little surprised, a little stunned when they first walk in and see this enormous, open, colorful, opulent, sweeping space tucked away in Noble Square. Plus there are all sorts of hidden nooks and crannies with beautiful, strange things in that building and the surrounding area.

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

Prentice Women’s Hospital Building. I get that brutalism isn’t the easiest architectural style to love, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t deserve to be preserved. Especially something as striking, unique and historically important as this building was.

And I happen to like the way it looked.

What’s your best memory as a tour guide?

My parents coming on my tour. (awwwwwwww – Ed.)

A Chicago book or novel to recommend?

The South Side: A Portrait of Chicago and American Segregation by Natalie Y. Moore. As the title points to, this book speaks to environments beyond Chicago as well. It made different aspects of space, that were apparent but not clear, legible to me.

What’s next on your Chicago reading list?

The Neon Wilderness, a collection of short stories, by Nelson Algren. I’ve got two goals–read more short stories and learn more about my own neighborhood.

What’s your second-favorite city?

New Orleans  for spooky stuff, theme parties, cocktails and old stuff. Or maybe Santa Fe because I’m a desert baby and a Georgia O’Keefe lifestyle enthusiast.

Detours Guide Morgan Lott New Orleans
A photo Morgan took in New Orleans’ Garden District that encapsulates its old AND spooky character.

Neighborhood or suburb you’d like to explore more?

1 word, three syllables – Beverly.

Favorite local brewery or distillery?

Dovetail in Ravenswood. The tour is the best brewery tour I’ve been on (I have been on a lot) that goes beyond your typical “this is how the beer is made” story. Plus, they are doing something that is focused on good, drinkable beer, nothing tastes like a dare. All warm, lovely people also.

Many thanks to Morgan for answering our questions and best of luck to her at The Chopping Block!

– Alex Bean, Chicago Detours Content Manager and Tour Guide

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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
TripAdvisor

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.”
Wade K
TripAdvisor

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.”
Katie K
Yelp

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
Yelp

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