Wild Things and Civilized Architecture in Lincoln Park

Lions and liveliness and tranquility, oh my! You can find that in the Lincoln Park Zoo the surrounding neighborhood. We always delight in bringing guests up to the zoo and Lincoln Park’s charming green spaces on our Chicago Highlights Detour 101 Bus Tour.

Meet Klaudia

My name is Klaudia Siczek, and I’m delighted to be the new intern at Chicago Detours. I grew up in the northern Chicago suburbs, studied in Champaign, and moved to Chicago a couple of years ago. I’ve also spent some time in Poland, where my family is from.

I don’t want to sound sappy, but almost every time I take a walk in Chicago, it’s like I’m seeing it for the first time–I see new angles, discover new details, my heart beats a little faster, and my knees usually get weak (am I a romantic, or should I see a doctor… am I right?!). So I’m a perfect fit for Chicago Detours, and I’ll be blogging about the architecture of Chicago neighborhoods during my Editorial Internship here.

Lincoln Park Zoo

So we begin with Lincoln Park. About six months after I moved to Chicago, I was jogging on Cannon Drive when I suddenly saw the open gates of the Lincoln Park Zoo. Since I had not yet been there, I thought I’d jog through it quickly and call it a day.

It was almost dusk in Lincoln Park, and it had just started to drizzle. Through the gates I saw empty paths–there was not a living being to be found; it looked like an abandoned theme park.

I jogged through the gates to the first patch of fenced flora to see if there were any critters, and I came to a halt. There before me was a tiger.  Just chillin’ in Lincoln Park. Here I was, alone, in the middle of the third largest city in the United States, making eye contact with the third largest land carnivore.

Lincoln Park Zoo Amur Tiger

Zoo Architecture

I was mesmerized and disoriented–I had just been jogging past a boisterous crowd on Clark Street eating fro-yo! I couldn’t get enough of the accidental transition I just made–from the center of action to complete seclusion.

This experience was made possible by the Park’s open gates and free admission. And this is only one of several paths of contrast that one can experience in the Lincoln Park neighborhood. In this vertical city, the birthplace of the skyscraper, there is also horizontality to be celebrated. Lincoln Park may be the prime example of this.

After checking in with the Amur Tiger, you can be thankful you’re not Daniel in the Den of the Lions and consider some Chicago architecture. You could pay a visit to the enthralling yet escapable Kovler Lion House, built in 1912. Designed by Dwight Perkins, this wide brick hall with terracotta ornament and lion mosaics shows the Prairie School architectural style, which aimed to emulate the expansive–and very horizontal–Midwestern prairies.

Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool

To cool down after your interaction with the big cats, visit the sanctuary of the Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool. It’s on the North end of the Lincoln Park Zoo. This is another “Prairie Style” space, designed to resemble a “river running through a great Midwestern prairie.” The two shelters form a horizontal structure that in combination with the waterfall echo Frank Lloyd Wright’s Falling Water.

Lincoln Park Chicago Alfred Caldwell Lily PoolThe carefully chosen Midwestern plant palette succeeds in enveloping you, providing a comfortable cushion between you and the city. Who would have thought that within just two blocks you could go from vivacity to serenity?

I would suggest you never leave, if it weren’t for all of the other adventures Chicago has up its sleeve…

– Klaudia Siczek,  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.”


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.
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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.”
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.”
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