Navigating the Loop in 3-D

On our wintertime tour, “The Loop: Explore Without Freezing,” we experience the insides of buildings. With this unique perspective of architecture, we engage with intriguing stories of the inner-workings of city life. It’s pretty incredible the different worlds we step into over the short walking course of just half a mile, and we use the Pedway network of underground passages for a small portion of the tour to stay indoors.

Pedway System sign

 

Now that Chicago Detours has moved into an office downtown, I have been experiencing this interior world on a daily basis, as a commuter rather than tour guide, and I’ve discovered how the Pedway contributes to efficient infrastructure. “Infrastructure” can be a boring word, I know – please keep reading as we’ll also talk about cookies!

The Pedway facilitates a quick commute for me (from the Washington blue line station to my office at 25 E. Washington) in a few ways:

1. Less people use the Pedway, especially less visitors and casual strollers who choke up the sidewalks when you’re in a rush.

2. No need to bundle up when you head out for meetings. To put on a coat, scarf, hat and gloves may only take a minute, but every second counts when you have a million things to do and need to rush out for a meeting.

3. No wait at stoplights! If I went outside I would have to cross streets only three times, but if I get stuck at the light then several minutes can be added to my walk.

A little bit more about my route…When I get off the train I walk straight into Block 37. Though I’m in a mall, this is still part of the confusing network of the Pedway. Several businesses have cropped up here to take advantage of the foot traffic, especially because it’s a transfer point between blue and red lines, and most of these businesses sell treats for spontaneous purchase. I’m most tempted by frozen kefir smoothies at Starfruit Cafe. Ok, being distracted by such things doesn’t speed up my travel time to the office – if I want them though it’s just a quick stop.

Then I do a jog through the bottom level of Macy’s before passing by this historic staircase in a forgotten corner. It’s on the way to this barely used passage of the Pedway that connects to the former Marshall Field’s men’s annex (you could get outfitted for an African safari or a Colorado cowboy trip here). This is where my office is.

Old Marshall FieldsIt also doesn’t speed up your travel time when you stop to take pictures of strange corners that no one seems to pay attention to, like a historic stairway in the basement of Macy’s shows you there’s a camera monitoring it since otherwise you would probably think you’re all alone.

So about those cookies: When I’m up on the 15th floor in my office, working hard to develop and market our tours, I may choose to reward myself with a tasty cookie from Macy’s Marketplace, the surprisingly reasonably priced food court on the bottom floor. In less than 6 minutes total, I can take the elevator, walk over there, buy a peanut butter cookie or a lemon bar, and be back in my office. If I had to step outside the whole process would probably be doubled and then I wouldn’t do it at all. Only in the densest of urban areas can people move so quickly between various businesses, via both horizontal and vertical means. So maybe in this case the Pedway doesn’t help so much with efficiency…

And as a side note, photos for the blog and the site were primarily taken by me, and also photographer Stephanie Lu Jokich and artist Young Joon Kwak (and the happy portrait on the staff page by Julia Pelish of the Toronto Star).

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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.

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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.”
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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.”
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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.”
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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.”
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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.”
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