During my fist full day in Chicago I spent part of the afternoon enjoying the Chicago Architecture Foundation River Cruise. The 90 minute boat tour featured a journey down the Chicago river and focused on the history and architecture of over 50 buildings in the area. Some of my favourite buildings on the tour were the Marina City building, 35 East Wacker, and the Civic Opera House.
The Chicago Architecture Foundation (CAF) which operates the tours is an organization dedicated to celebrating and promoting the architecture of the city. The organization was founded in 1966 in an effort to save the Glessner House from demolition. This initial initiative brought together Chicago residents from all walks of life and resulted in the founding of the CAF. Today the organization has over 450 volunteer docents who run tours such as the river cruise. Last year 319,661 people participated in tours put on by CAF.
|Marina City Building|
Overall the tour was a great mixture of history, architecture, and local anecdotes. The docent covered the basics of architectural style, talked about influential architects in the city, provided detailed accounts of numerous buildings, and filled in the tour with the history of Chicago. I came away from the tour feeling as though I learned a lot but also had an opportunity to simply enjoy the sights. Even if you don't know a ton about built heritage or architecture the tour is engaging and designed to be accessible to the general public.
Photo credit: Andrew MacKay