Answers About the Pedway

We get a lot of questions about the Chicago Pedway system our private tours of downtown. So here are some more in-depth responses.

We research stories from Chicago history, architecture and culture like this while developing our live virtual tours, in-person private tours, and custom content for corporate events. You can join us to experience Chicago’s stories in-person or online. We can also create custom tours and original content about this Chicago topic and countless others.

How do you know you’re in the Pedway?

Chicago pedway logo

You know you’re in it when you see the symbol to the right. The mostly-underground system of passages connects buildings, train stations, and parking lots around the Loop. One finds government offices, food courts, and most importantly during wintertime – warmth. As part of downtown infrastructure, these tunnels eases foot traffic on street level. It also provides a quicker route, since pretty much everyone down there is in a hurry like you. Plus, you don’t have to wait at any stop lights!

Where does the Pedway go?

Built in Chicago for Chicagoans, this system is still a bit of a conundrum for local government. Yes, the city has an official map of it, but they do not have any specific department that manages the Chicago Pedway. Each section of the tunnels was built and is managed by the building attached. For example, when you walk by the passageway around Macy’s they are responsible for the visual look and security here.

Why don’t people use the Pedway all the time if it’s so great?

It can be fascinating to explore, and a good photographer can find interesting angles, but the Pedway is not nearly as visually exciting as the street-level above. For this reason, we downtown workers tend to reserve it for bad weather or when we’re in a hurry.

Are there plans to extend it?

Well, they recently have in fact. The completion of Aqua Tower in 2009 extended the Pedway to reach its parking garage and the would include the newly opened Radison Blu Hotel. If any new buildings arise in the vicinity of the system, a developer would likely want to connect a new residential or commercial building with the pre-existing infrastructure. This piecemeal add-on method is how the Pedway has grown to be the confusing thing it is now. There never was any master plan.

How do I get my hands on a good map of the Pedway?

Chicago pedway map

Good question here. Mark Spiegl’s Pedway map, pictured here, lays out the primary paths quite clearly. Its simplicity is less daunting than the City of Chicago‘s map, which is cluttered with details.

We are working on our own Chicago Detours map of the Pedway, and we are determined to keep it user friendly. This project has grown into a much more complicated goal than imagined. So a question for you: How does one make an understandable map when the subject matter at hand is confusing? The northeast area of the Pedway, for example, goes from underground to ground level to above ground, and then at times its the outside ground level that’s changing rather than the grade of the Pedway route! That area of the city has multiple layers of parking, streets, and furthest underneath, wood pilings and abandoned freight tunnels. This question is pretty complicated so I don’t expect any easy answers! (Update: here’s our completed map!)

Why don’t more people know about the Pedway?

This is an interesting one and requires a long response. Look next month for a full blog post dedicated to this question.

– Amanda Scotese, Executive Director


Chicago Detours is a boutique tour company passionate about connecting people to places and each other through the power of storytelling. We bring curious people to explore, learn and interact with Chicago’s history, architecture and culture through in-person private group tourscontent production, and virtual tours.


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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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