My husband is my chief researcher. (Read: Groupon shopper) He came across this tour the other day and we decided it would be a good one. Even though it was raining we were still able to do it because, in the winter, the tour is not given on the Chicago River, but under the city in the Chicago Pedway System. What a two-for-one deal! Not just the Groupon price, but it is virtually a tour of the Pedway while getting the River Walk Tour.
What's the Pedway, you ask? It is a great way to walk from building to building UNDER the city. No need to get wet or freeze your face off. I knew this was under the Cultural Center, since I was in Millenium Metra Station and made it all the way to Macy's underground. But I didn't really know where it went after that.
This tour is really worth the price. Groupon or not. It is so informative and educational, the only thing you don't get out of it is 3 credit hours. It is THAT educational. Now, if you are into light quick tours, this one is not for you. It started at 1:00 and ended at 3:40. Lots of walking and lots of stories. None of it boring.
This was our group. (notice no young ones...it is a lot of info and a lot of walking/standing/walking/standing) This is how clean the halls of the Pedway look. Everyone on the tour is given a binder full of historic photos to carry along the way. Which reminds me...here is the mother in me speaking... leave coats and packages in your car, or hotel, or under a bench or in a potted plant.... I had too much stuff to carry while trying to hold the binder and walk. I am not a weakling, I just hate having too much stuff to worry about. It is comfortable temperature-wise so just have as little with you as you can. I looked like a pack mule carrying a camera while needing a bottle of water.
The tour starts out with details on the exploration of Jesuit Jacques Marquette...
to the first settlement and Fort Dearborn
the dredging of the river, the railroads, the Fire
and other catastrophies and triumphs that make Chicago great.
Our guide kept us moving and we were able to see the insides of buildings like the Thompson Center, Cultural Center, and City Hall.
The lights inside City Hall were really pretty for the holidays.
Our guide said that when they are outside they hit lots of landmarks and show the actual spots where the events took place. But inside was just as nice for me on a rainy cold day. Inside, you can hear your guide without cars, trains, or wind. I think I will take it again in the summer. Even though the facts are the same, I think the views would be different and interesting. The same views you see all the time while in the city are different when you have the educational background of how they got there in the first place. As you may have read by now, I have taken lots of tours. I highly recommend taking this one if you are a history sponge or if you just have never been under the city!