Chicago History, Architecture and a Walking Game of Telephone

I am very excited to share that on Friday, April 5, Chicago Detours will inaugurate our new quarterly, one-off “Detours” with a “Nonsensical Walk of Indoor Spaces.” These “Detours” will be a new approach to a tour, so that beyond a tour guide sharing stories, guests will have experiences designed around a particular theme and often taking place at exclusive locations.

The “Nonsensical Walk of Indoor Spaces”, which weaves through downtown lobbies, Pedways, short-cuts and corridors, will expand a person’s understanding of the geographical space downtown. Join us for this one-time-only experience, and you’ll get to experience architectural “eye candy” while playing a moving game of telephone with messages of historic and contemporary background on the buildings as we walk through them.

architecture of chicago tour
We’ll see this on our walk: the ceiling of Monroe Building lobby

I came up with the idea for this “Nonsensical Walk” a couple years ago when I was designing our Interior Architectural Tour, called “Inside the Loop.” To familiarize myself with accessible public spaces in downtown Chicago, I wandered through any building that looked wanderable and uncovered a multitude of little worlds inside skyscrapers and Pedways. Hidden restaurants, giant paintings and sculptures, and professionals of varying industries exist inside buildings that, from the outside, seem like just an abstraction. I felt like a walk around these spaces would be a cool experience in itself.

On a primary level the Walk, which is NOT a walking tour, is going to be a fun, spatial experience of downtown and Chicago history. As we pop in and out of these buildings, you’ll see visuals with a wide range of materials – from tinted glass to marble, styles – from classical to contemporary, and spaces – from condensed to expansive. And we’ll be there right at rush hour on Friday, so we’ll get the buzz of people whizzing by us as we walk pretty continuously for two hours.

That’s right, continuously.  We will not be stopping here and there for guide commentary.  Instead, we’ll be playing a game of telephone as we zigzag through the more than 25 buildings.  That means, I will say a short message to the people immediately behind me. This message will be a quick comment of cultural and architectural facts about the building and its tenants. Then those people will make sure the next few people behind them hear the message and so-on.

The seemingly random walking route will expand one’s concept of geographical space in downtown Chicago by taking people off their standard pedestrian paths. While studying at the University of Chicago, I learned a lot about the idea of the urban theorist’s concept of flaneur as a walker who becomes aware of the psychological and social effects of the cityscape by venturing out of standard spaces and routes. Ultimately, the route of the “Nonsensical Walk” and the information shared in the game of telephone will be the experience of the flaneur. It will expose participants to a story of the city as told through its interior spaces and their relation to each other in the cityscape.

Underground Pedway City Hall Chicago
Pedway under the Daley Center

The two-hour-long Walk will be held Friday, April 5, 4pm-6pm. Group meets in the Pedway atrium of Block 37 at 108 North State Street and ends near the intersection of LaSalle and Jackson. Tickets are $20 and guests receive special gifts. Reservations are required and group size is limited.

This is just the first of our quarterly, one-off Detours, which will be led not only by Chicago Detours tour guides but also other experts in cultural fields of Chicago history and architecture. They will share their passion and knowledge for niches of Chicago happenings and history. We’ll post more about these soon!

— Amanda Scotese, Chicago Detours 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
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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