I recently joined Chicago Detours on a sunny Sunday for the Loop Interior Architecture Walking Tour. I have heard great things about Chicago Detours, so I was excited to see what they had to offer. I was especially interested to learn more about the mysterious Chicago pedway. The mission of Chicago Detours is to provide tour experiences that are fun, educational and connect us to the places we visit. If you are looking for an inside Chicago walking tour, this is a great option!
We met Alex, our tour guide, in the lobby of the Chase building. We had a large group of 20, comprised of Chicago-area locals and tourists from as far away as England. After a quick intro, we got a brief lesson on how to use the iPads that Alex was handing out. One of the things I loved about this tour was the use of multi-media technology. Alex had about five iPads loaded up with photos and videos to augment his story-telling. The photo below shows how the building across the street has changed in the last 100 years.
This view from inside the Chase Building shows various periods of architecture, from the modern building on the left to one of the oldest buildings on the right, including the tiny Italian Village restaurant (hidden behind a tree) that resisted all development offers and remains the oldest Italian restaurant in Chicago.
We then walked outdoors to the Chicago Temple, also known as the church inside a skyscraper. This First United Methodist Church has an interesting history, and still draws a congregation from all over Chicago-land. There is also a Sky Chapel, which was donated by the Walgreen’s family, looming high above the city. (Free tours are offered six days a week, and I’ll be taking advantage of one sometime this summer!)
We then turned our gazes across the street to the famous Picasso sculpture, and watched a fun video with interviews showing the public reaction when the statue was unveiled in the late 1960’s. I hadn’t heard the story behind the commissioning of the statue – it’s very interesting and gives some insight as to what exactly this sculpture is supposed to be!
Next, we headed underground into the Pedway system. It’s quite extensive and really an under-explored part of the city. The pedway links into Block37, the newest retail addition to State Street.
We visited the famous Marshall Field’s (now Macy’s) department store on State Street, an iconic building that evokes the glamour days of retail. Alex gave us some really interesting history on the founding of Marshall Field’s, including Field’s employment of women, and introduction of the wedding registry. While the store itself is now Macy’s, you can still see hints of elegance, especially if you look up! (You can see where Marshall Field is buried at Graceland Cemetery)
The last stop on our tour is the Chicago Cultural Center, which completely blew me away! This building was originally built in 1897 as Chicago’s first public library and is a masterpiece of marble, tile and stained glass. Given the close proximity to the tourist corridor, I definitely recommend popping in here for a peek if you have a chance! The Center offers free tours every Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 1:15 pm.
Our tour ended at the Cultural Center, where we were left to wander on our own. From here, I headed across the street to Millennium Park to enjoy the sunshine and tulips.
I really enjoyed this Chicago Detours tour and definitely recommend it, especially if you are visiting on a colder day, as much of the tour takes place indoors. Chicago Detours offers public and private tours on a variety of subjects including historic bar tours and neighborhood tours. Check out their website to view the full variety of tours available!
I would like to thank Chicago Detours for hosting me on this tour. These are solely my personal opinions/experiences and I was not financially compensated for this post.
This post is part of The Weekly Postcard over at Two Traveling Texans. Click the photo below to check out other great posts this week!