This area of Chicago is like an open air museum of architecture and relics of various periods of Chicago history, from 1870s mansions to early 1900s factories to 1970s public housing. On our tour, we’ll consider how the ups and downs of neighborhood change are the same as anything in life. You have to take risks. Most symbolically, Chicago failed with the Great Chicago Fire. But a company rose from the ashes to become one of the largest in its industry still today. We’ll visit the sites of failure and success, from the course of Muddy Waters career wit Chess Records as a blues musician, to the course of cars in shaping cities for better and for worse. Guests will learn of the dramatic fall of the mansion district, as beautiful greystones went from high-class soirees to flophouses and publishing offices.
The neighborhood’s Prairie Avenue once boasted “Millionaire Row.” At the peak of the Gilded Age in the late 19th century, some of the wealthiest people in American history built palatial mansions in this bucolic area. The contrast of a century later brings us on our tour to the oft-overlooked 1970s – a crucial and overlooked time in Chicago history. It was a time of transition. The neighborhood was spattered with industrial buildings, shuttered train stations, parking lots, and McCormick Place, the just-opened, colossal convention center. Despite this unbecoming state in the 1970s, the forces unleashed at that nadir of urban decay led to the vibrant and redeveloped neighborhood we experience on our walking tour.
This quick, 1.75-hour curated experience starts in the lobby of the Marriott Marquis, 2121 S Prairie Ave, and ends at the Clarke House, 1827 S Indiana.
The Century of Contrasts South Loop Walking Tour can now be booked for private groups. Contact us at 312.350.1131 for more details on booking this South Loop walking tour as a private event.