Architecture of Chicago Audio Guide

Be blown away by the design stories that lie beneath the Windy City's surface
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1 at US$20
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Audio Guide Details
1 hour 15 minutes
Product Type
Audio Guide
  • Monadnock Building
  • Chicago Cultural Center
  • Millennium Park
Preview Architecture of Chicago Audio Guide
Start: Monadnock Building
Monadnock from across Jackson Street
Dirksen Federal Building
Photos & Highlights
Audio Guide Description
The Great Chicago Fire of 1871 burned the Windy City to the ground. Soon, the modern elevator had arrived on the scene, and its skyline was changed forever. On this walking tour with historian and Context Travel expert, Sally Kambach, you'll learn about the visionaries who built the city's iconic architecture, and the design movements that shaped its skyline. 

Starting in front of the Monadnock Building, you'll learn how the Windy City got its name. You'll find out how the introduction of passenger railways into the city and the popularity of the 1893 World's Fair led to a population boom. As you make your way around the outskirts of the Chicago Loop, Sally will point out the architectural giants that punctuate Chicago's skyline. You'll see historical buildings including the Dirksen Federal Building, the Rookery Building, and the Marquette Building. You'll find out about the famous buildings that came out of the Chicago World's Fair (also called the World’s Columbian Exposition) and take in examples of Art Deco in the 1930s, including the Chicago Board of Trade building with its geometric and abstract motifs. As you make your way to Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park, where our tour ends, you'll have a chance to step inside some of the spectacular lobbies that were influenced by Owen Aldis, a Chicago Real Estate Lawyer, who always insisted on beautiful entrance ways.
On this Chicago tour, you'll:

• Take in the historical Monadnock Building, which brilliantly bridges two architectural eras and building styles
• Marvel at Louis Tiffany's mosaic ceiling at the Marshall Field and Company Building, an intricate masterpiece crafted with 1.6 million pieces of iridescent glass over two years
• Explore the design philosophy of Louis Sullivan, renowned for his innovative treatment of tall commercial buildings and enduring design principles
• Find out about the impact of the Chicago School architectural style, characterized by steel-frame construction, Chicago windows, and ornate cornices
• Discover the Union League Club's transformation from a political club in 1879 to a venue housing a magnificent art collection today
• Visit the Chicago Cultural Center, an exquisite Neo-Classical masterpiece showcasing sumptuous materials and craftsmanship
• Stroll through Millennium Park taking in panoramic views of Chicago and marveling at the The Bean, the city's iconic sculpture
• Delve into the history of the Palmer House, today a Hilton Hotel, and hear about how Mrs Potter Palmer brought the work of women from 41 nations to exhibit at the 1893 World's Fair for the first time in history
• Learn how zoning laws from 1923 influenced building design, requiring tall structures to be set back to create pedestrian-friendly spaces
• Appreciate the Rookery Building's role in early skyscraper development, introducing metal framing, fireproofing, elevators, and plate glass innovations
• Immerse yourself in Chagall's four-season mural, a vibrant composition of thousands of inlaid chips in over 250 colors

By the end of this hour-long tour, you‘ll have a deeper appreciation for Chicago's architectural legacy, and its evolution from the Great Chicago Fire to its dazzling skyline today.
Meet Your Expert

Sally Sexton Kalmbach is a fourth generation Chicagoan that has been designing and giving walking tours in the city for 15 years. She has taught classes in Chicago history at the Newberry Library, and has given numerous speeches and customized tours for individuals and small groups. Her expertise and ability to present material in an accessible, yet informative manner have resulted in a loyal following. Sally is on the board of the Chicago Chapter of the Society of Architectural Historians as well as the author of two books about Chicago history: "The Jewel of the Gold Coast, "Mrs. Potter Palmer's Chicago" and "Mrs. Thorne's World of Miniatures"

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Is closed captioning (i.e. subtitles) available?
Yes! All of our audio guides have the option to turn on closed captioning should you have difficulty hearing the expert.

How long does each event last?
Our recorded audio guides typically run for 75 minutes.

How can I share this audio guide with friends or family?
You are welcome to listen together with friends or family, but each person listening to the guide on their own device will need to purchase the audio guide individually.

How long does my access to the audio guide last?
Once you purchase an audio guide, you are welcome to listen to it as many times as you would like. Your access to a purchased audio guide does not expire.

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Can I purchase a gift card for a friend who is traveling?
Absolutely! Gift cards can be purchased here. Gift cards are good for 365 days from the date of purchase.

(5.0) 1 Review

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I thought it was great. Very informative and I learned a great deal. I also learned which buildings had remarkable interiors and were open to the public, which of course you can't tell when walking on the street.