July 4th Events In Chicago History

Celebrate Independence Day this year with July 4th events in Chicago history. Each week we bring you our favorite architecture and history events and this week’s events honor Chicago’s place in American history with a Chicago History Fair exhibition, a Chicago music festival, and a tour of Chicago’s beginnings.

chicago history fair newberry library
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Chicago Metro History Education Center


Ruggles Hall, 60 W. Walton St. – Wednesday, July 2nd, 4:00pm


This is the fourth consecutive year that Chicago’s Newberry Library has hosted the Chicago History Fair’s Blue Ribbon Student Exhibition. Three dozen high-acheiving projects from the fair are on display for a couple of weeks, this year from June 27th through July 11th. This Wednesday stop by Ruggles hall to learn more about the fair and the exhibition. Some of the student exhibitors as well as two gold medalists from this year’s National History Day competition will be in attendance to take questions and discuss their projects.

2. The Chosen Few Old School Reunion Picnic – MUSIC FESTIVAL

Jackson Park, 63rd St. and Hayes Dr. – Saturday, July 5th, 6:00am-8:00pm


Get your dance on, because this weekend marks the 23rd annual Chosen Few Old School Reunion Picnic, a grand get-together for “house heads” around the world. What once began as about 40 friends from the early days of house music having a picnic is now one of the largest house music festivals in the world. This is not surprising as Chicago is the home of house music thanks to the late Frankie Knuckles, who died earlier this year, but who had performed in years past during the festival. This year’s event will feature the legendary Chosen Few DJs as well as guest DJs.

3. Chicago Portage National Historic Site Tour – WALKING TOUR

4800 S. Harlem Ave. – Saturday, July 5th, 10:00am


Stand on ground traversed by the early explorers, settlers and creators of Chicago while you learn how the city was born on a free tour of the Chicago Portage National Historic site. Hosted by the Friends of the Chicago Portage, this tour will explore the Portage from its geological beginnings to how it is still functioning in Chicago today. Be sure to bring comfortable walking shoes or boots and wear long pants as the 1/2 mile walk will last two hours on a gravel path through the woods in rain or shine. You can pick up the tour at the monumental statue of Marquette and Jolliet and their Native American guide.


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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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