Get to Know Chicago Detours Guide Jen Wilson

1. How did you become a Chicago Detours guide?

My friend and co-worker Alex Bean at Harold Washington College told me how awesome it was being a tour guide so I applied and got hired!

2. What’s your favorite tour?

My favorite public tour is the 1893 World’s Fair Walking Tour with Bars

1893 World's Fair Tour Fine Arts Building game

Jen loves guiding the 1893 World’s Fair Tour, with its delightfully vexing games. Photo by Pawel Skrabacz.

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

I love taking guests into the Intercontinental on Michigan Ave. because the Lion’s Court is spectacular, and also I like to call that building the “Ghostbusters” building because it just seems like a place someone like Gozer the Gozerian would love. Outside of downtown I love Thalia Hall.

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

The world’s original skyscraper, The Home Insurance Building. 

Home Insurance Building Chicago first skyscraper William LeBaron Jenney

Jen sure wishes we still had the world’s first skyscraper, the Home Insurance Building. Image via Jason Woodhead via flickr.

5. What’s your best memory as a tour guide?

It’s hard to choose, I love that I get to see my city through my tour guests eyes and experience the beauty and wonder anew on each tour.

6. A Chicago book or movie to recommend?

“Adventures in Babysitting” (1987) was one of my favorite movies in preschool and is my first memory of a Chicago movie that really featured Chicago architecture. The scene where Sara is hanging off the top of the Crain Communications building is iconic. Other favorites obviously are “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” and the original “Blues Brothers.” I’m an 80’s kid who still lives in the 80’s!

7. What’s next on your Chicago reading list?

Rules for Radicals” by Saul Alinsky

8. What’s your second-favorite city?

My second favorite city is Siem Reap in Cambodia. Angkor Wat is my favorite building structure/complex in the entire world because of the immense scale and beauty as well as the demonstration of the mystical and functional properties of architecture.

9. Neighborhood or suburb you’d like to explore more?

Highland Park, I hear they have a lot of money and pretty houses.

10. Favorite local brewery or distillery?

Eris Brewery Chicago Masonic Temple

An old Masonic Temple on Irving Park Road is home to Jen’s favorite local brewery.

I’m a huge fan of Eris Brewery for so many reasons. First, Eris is a woman owned brewery which is rare and this of course means they will get all of my support. Second, their restaurant/brewery is in an old Masonic Temple on Irving Park road which is super cool.  Third, I love that they use the Chaos symbol in their iconography which connects to their name. Eris is the goddess of discord that notoriously started the Trojan War of antiquity. Did I mention that I also teach mythology at Harold Washington College?

Finally and perhaps most importantly, I love food and being vegetarian it is often difficult to find a brewery with great vegan/vegetarian options- well Eris has a huge vegan/vegetarian menu and everything is absolutely delicious.

You can meet Jen on the Loop Interior Architecture Walking Tour or the 1893 World’s Fair Tour with Bars. 


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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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