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Chicago History, Architecture and a Walking Game of Telephone

By Amanda on March 28, 2013


I am very excited to share that on Friday, April 5, Chicago Detours will inaugurate our new quarterly, one-off “Detours” with a “Nonsensical Walk of Indoor Spaces.” These “Detours” will be a new approach to a tour, so that beyond a tour guide sharing stories, guests will have experiences designed around a particular theme and often taking place at exclusive locations.

The “Nonsensical Walk of Indoor Spaces”, which weaves through downtown lobbies, Pedways, short-cuts and corridors, will expand a person’s understanding of the geographical space downtown. Join us for this one-time-only experience, and you’ll get to experience architectural “eye candy” while playing a moving game of telephone with messages of historic and contemporary background on the buildings as we walk through them.

architecture of chicago tour
We’ll see this on our walk: the ceiling of Monroe Building lobby

I came up with the idea for this “Nonsensical Walk” a couple years ago when I was designing our Interior Architectural Tour, called “Inside the Loop.” To familiarize myself with accessible public spaces in downtown Chicago, I wandered through any building that looked wanderable and uncovered a multitude of little worlds inside skyscrapers and Pedways. Hidden restaurants, giant paintings and sculptures, and professionals of varying industries exist inside buildings that, from the outside, seem like just an abstraction. I felt like a walk around these spaces would be a cool experience in itself.

On a primary level the Walk, which is NOT a walking tour, is going to be a fun, spatial experience of downtown and Chicago history. As we pop in and out of these buildings, you’ll see visuals with a wide range of materials – from tinted glass to marble, styles – from classical to contemporary, and spaces – from condensed to expansive. And we’ll be there right at rush hour on Friday, so we’ll get the buzz of people whizzing by us as we walk pretty continuously for two hours.

That’s right, continuously.  We will not be stopping here and there for guide commentary.  Instead, we’ll be playing a game of telephone as we zigzag through the more than 25 buildings.  That means, I will say a short message to the people immediately behind me. This message will be a quick comment of cultural and architectural facts about the building and its tenants. Then those people will make sure the next few people behind them hear the message and so-on.

The seemingly random walking route will expand one’s concept of geographical space in downtown Chicago by taking people off their standard pedestrian paths. While studying at the University of Chicago, I learned a lot about the idea of the urban theorist’s concept of flaneur as a walker who becomes aware of the psychological and social effects of the cityscape by venturing out of standard spaces and routes. Ultimately, the route of the “Nonsensical Walk” and the information shared in the game of telephone will be the experience of the flaneur. It will expose participants to a story of the city as told through its interior spaces and their relation to each other in the cityscape.

Underground Pedway City Hall Chicago
Pedway under the Daley Center

The two-hour-long Walk will be held Friday, April 5, 4pm-6pm. Group meets in the Pedway atrium of Block 37 at 108 North State Street and ends near the intersection of LaSalle and Jackson. Tickets are $20 and guests receive special gifts. Reservations are required and group size is limited.

This is just the first of our quarterly, one-off Detours, which will be led not only by Chicago Detours tour guides but also other experts in cultural fields of Chicago history and architecture. They will share their passion and knowledge for niches of Chicago happenings and history. We’ll post more about these soon!

— Amanda Scotese, Chicago Detours Executive Director


Chicago Detours offers guided walking and bus tours of architecture, history and culture to public and private groups. We are a passionate team of educators, historians, artists and storytellers, and are proud to be one of very few tour companies in Chicago that is rated five stars on both Google and TripAdvisor.


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