Chicago – Free Walking Tour

One of my best finds for my trip to Chicago was a Free Walking Tour that my mom and I took. It was through the Chicago Greeter Program, where anyone staying in a Chicago Hotel is able to submit a request with your preferences for what to see and do around the city. Then a native Chicago volunteer is selected based on your preferences and then they will tailor a two – four hour walking tour around the city. Since you will also receive a one-day unlimited metro card to use on the tour, your guide can take you to multiple locations around the city.

Tiffany Dome Ceiling in the Chicago Cultural Center.

Our tour started in the Chicago Cultural Center at 77 E. Randolph Street which is downtown, just across the street from the Northwest corner of Millennium Park. This building alone is a spectacular place to begin with. It has been almost completely restored back to the grandeur it had when it was constructed in 1897. There are multiple halls and staircases covered with marble tile mosaics and stained glass dome ceilings.  One of which is claimed as the Largest Tiffany Glass Dome in the World!  Even if it isn’t, it is still massive and beautiful with the sun shinning through it.  It is such a shame that this building was almost torn down during the 1970’s.  Makes you wonder how many buildings like this that have been torn down in the past and are lost forever.

Top Left: Artwork of the Grand Staircase – Bottom Left: Grand Staircase covered in mosaic tiles.
Right: View up Grand Staircase towards Tiffany Glass Dome

Tiffany mosaic tile ceiling in Macy’s.

Another stop on our tour was a Macy’s Department Store. You may be wondering, just like I was, what that has to do with history or architecture.  The building that Macy’s now has as one of their flagship stores was once a Marshall Fields Department Store before being bought out by Macy’s in 2005.  It was built in 1892 and is the second largest store in the world only trailing Macy’s New York City.  Something not to miss when walking around the store is the Tiffany mosaic tile, barrel vaulted ceiling. As we walked around the store we could see many customers never even noticing what they were walking under.  Throughout the tour, our guide took us into many buildings that we would never have thought of walking through.  It was well worth the 3 hours we spent walking around with her.

Some of the other stops included:

Top Left: Illinois Department of Revenue Atrium – Top Right: Chicago City Hall Main Floor
Bottom Left: Palmer House Hotel Second Floor – Bottom Right: The Rookery

What would your choices be for what to see on a talking tour? Architecture? Sports? History? Food? Nature? All of the above?

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