Chicago has long been known for its stunning skyline and its awe-inspiring architecture. So it’s no surprise that the city would also come to be known for its many architectural tours and cruises. I sat down with representatives from a few of Chicago’s most popular tour groups to ask them about the wonderful architecture tours they offer.
This week, I spoke with Liz from Shoreline Sightseeing.
How long has your company been offering its tours?
Shoreline Sightseeing has been family owned and operated since 1939. The brothers, Chip and Matt Collopy, are the third generation of their family to run Shoreline. Shoreline is Chicago’s favorite tour boat company, with a fleet of 21 boats, including touring vessels and water taxis.
What made you decide to start offering architectural tours?
We began our architecture tours in 1999 to take advantage of the beautiful views of the city from the Chicago River. Chicago is the birthplace of the skyscraper and the river is the ideal venue to experience them and learn about the history of Chicago.
What are some of the highlights of an architectural cruise?
Our docents highlight more than 40 landmark buildings, including Willis (Sears) Tower, John Hancock Tower, Trump Tower, Old Post Office and Merchandise Mart. Each has a fascinating story. We also sort the fact from fiction about the Great Chicago Fire.
What building stands out the most to you?
Jeanne Gang’s Aqua is a new favorite. Gang is a Chicagoan and her building has soft, wavy lines that draw inspiration from the Chicago River and Lake Michigan.
How long do your tours typically last?
Our Architecture Tour lasts one hour.
What sort of person would you encourage to go on one of your tour?
We feel our tour is a perfect Chicago experience and we especially recommend it to families. It’s great for young people, a good blend of architecture, history and fun facts. Our docents are professionals, and are knowledgeable and entertaining.
Do your customers learn much about the history of architecture during the cruise?
You’ll come away with a new appreciation for the art and science that went into the rebuilding of Chicago after the fire. The challenge of building the support structures for these buildings was phenomenal, but architects from around the world came up with ingenious solutions.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Shoreline also offers short Skyline Cruises on Lake Michigan and Shoreline Water Taxis are a great way for people who live in the suburbs to get from Union Station/Ogilvie Transportation Center to Michigan Avenue, Navy Pier and the Museum Campus.