A Historic Home in an Ocean of Brutalism

Among the 1950s and 1960s buildings of the University of Illinois at Chicago campus, one place just does not look like the others! The original Jane Addams Hull House, now a museum, has Italianate cornices and a columned porch. In addition to Jane Addams fame as the “Mother of Social Work,” here you can gain insight into the life of hard-working immigrants in Chicago during the early 1900’s. Sometimes guests on our custom tours see this historical site and learn about the ways Jane Addams still has impact on our lives today.

Visit the Hull House

Entering the Hull House is like stepping back in time, and the exhibits do a good job of showing the surrounding environment and community issues of one century ago. Hull House exteriorA film loop showing Halsted street life in 1931 projects next to some windows that face the Halsted of today with bustling crowds of students and cars. Things back then were quite different: open carts, children, animals, and vendors clogged the streets. Men in top hats or in overalls walked around and women in floppy hats examined vegetables. In this photo, Florence Kelley wears a particularly precarious hat. The library holds her translation (from German) of Condition of the Working Class in 1844 by Frederick Engels. You may know him as the co-author of The Communist Manifesto. Visitors can flip through the inspiring, empowering and incendiary literature of the time. Titles such as Does Prohibition Work? stand beside memoirs of Black Americans and philosophical texts.

Jane Addams Public Enemy #1

When Jane Addams arrived in this area, known as the 19th ward, she was angered to see that the city did not come to pick up the trash in the streets. First let me clarify what “trash” was a century ago. Not only was it food waste and tissues, it included human waste and even dead animals! “Dead horses and dogs abounded in the nineteenth ward,” reported the Chicago Evening Journal on July 29, 1895.

Then Jane Addams stepped in. She started following the city trash pick-ups making sure that they did not skimp on their job. Clean streets made the 19th ward a more dignified and healthy environment to live in. Alice Hamilton, yet another Hull House luminary who ran a medical education center there, discovered connections between street waste and disease.

Because of her fight for peace, women’s rights, and her ability to assemble people and get them thinking, Jane Addams was not only the first American woman to win a Nobel Peace Prize, but also the FBI’s “Public Enemy #1” and “The Most Dangerous Person in the United States.” Why? Because she worked with the oppressed. She fought against the way things were and united people of all different backgrounds, educating them and bringing them a voice. A bulletin board hanging in Addams’ bedroom has clippings about her and the threat or blessing that she was. Hull House newspaper clippings bulletin board(If you would like to learn more about Addams as a public enemy, dial 703 637 9317, then press 21 when you hear the recording.) Her bedroom also contains her furniture, childhood doodles, and letters to her close companion, Mary Rozet Smith. Historians skirted around their relationship for many years, as they were likely lesbians and life-long partners.

The Legacy of Hull House

My favorite room of all in the museum was one that was completely empty. It plays a four-minute loop of sounds from the Hull House archives: children’s feet in the Hall, Jane Addams’ and Studs Terkel’s voices, the sound of 

Hull House Ruby Crown Kinglet

a sewing machine, the workers and animal calls of a slaughterhouse, an old-fashioned doorbell, and even the song of the Ruby Crown Kinglet, the most prevalent bird in Chicago in 1900.

– Sophie Grimes, Editorial Intern


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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.”


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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.
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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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