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Upcoming tour offers unique insight and access to some of Chicago’s most endangered sites

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Preservation Chicago’s guided bus tour will return on May 19

The 1927 Moorish-revival Hotel Guyon in Chicago’s Garfield Park neighborhood.
Photo by Gabriel X. Michael, courtesy of Preservation Chicago

Chicago design and history buffs will have a unique opportunity to get a first-hand look at some of the city’s most at-risk architectural treasures during an intimate guided tour later this month.

Led by Preservation Chicago’s executive director Ward Miller and Forgotten Chicago’s Jacob Kaplan, the excursion will showcase seven threatened buildings and parks named on the Preservation Chicago’s 2018 most-endangered list.

Participants will learn about the historical significance of the sites—such as Jackson Park’s starring role in the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition—as well as ongoing preservation and adaptive reuse efforts.

Scheduled for Saturday, May 19, the tour’s air-conditioned bus departs from Preservation Chicago’s office at 4410 N. Ravenswood Avenue at 10 a.m. and returns at 3 p.m.

Home to Chicago’s 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, Jackson Park headline the tour’s lineup of endangered sites.
Preservation Chicago

The tour includes stops at the following locations:

  • Jackson Park, Midway Plaisance, and South Shore Cultural Center
  • James R. Thompson Center
  • Harper High School
  • Washington Park Substation
  • Union Station
  • Hotel Guyon
  • Chicago’s brick streets and alleyways

One site, however, that not featured the tour is Edgewater’s Woodruff Arcade. Though named on February’s most-endangered list, the 1923 commercial building that stood at the southeast corner of Sheridan Road and Devon Avenue has since been demolished.

In addition to learning about the remaining sites listed above, participants will be treated to continuous dialogue touching on the diverse communities and notable historical properties lining the routes between each stop.

The tour will include a guided walk-through of the South Shore Cultural Center as well as a behind-the-scenes look at Union Station and lunch in the Beaux Arts building’s restored Founders Room. Tickets run $45 per person and are available here.

“There’s a real benefit to bringing people to these sites,” Ward Miller tells Curbed Chicago. “For instance, when you visit Jackson Park on our tour, you’ll understand the nuances of Frederick Law Olmsted’s landscape in a way that might get overlooked during a typical day trip to the Museum of Science and Industry.”

Columbian Exposition tickets used by Miller’s great-great-aunt and great-great-uncle.
Image courtesy of Ward Miller

With developments like Obama Presidental Center and Tiger Woods golf course on the way, Jackson Park and the surrounding area could look very different in the future.

The park hosted the World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893 and is dear to Miller, who is in possession of three tickets used by his great-great-aunt and uncle to enter the expo more than a century ago. “It was such a memorable event that people held on the tickets,” he said of the highly detailed, currency-like mementos.

Recognized for both its cultural and architectural influence, the legendary exposition and its famed White City celebrated their quasquicentennial (125 year) anniversary earlier this week.