Sunday, June 12, 2011

Chicago Elevated: Chicago History with an Improvisational Twist

Red-Light District Tour
I recently took a walking tour of Chicago’s original red-light district, a part of which was located at the corner of S. State and W. Polk streets. My tour guide was Margaret Hicks, owner and operator of Chicago Elevated. She became a business entrepreneur after she lost her job at Centrum Properties during the real estate bust.

An animated Hicks explains some of Chicago's more colorful history
Dedicated Docent
Hicks isn’t a newcomer when it comes to giving tours. She completed the docent program at the Chicago Architecture Foundation in 2004 and began giving walking tours in the Loop. Hicks worked hard and eventually became a river docent. Besides running Chicago Elevated, Hicks is also a published author. Chicago Comedy: A Fairly Serious History was released in April of this year and is available at your local bookstore and through The book traces the roots of Chicago comedy from nineteenth-century vaudeville to modern day film and TV. Famous comedians with Chicago roots include Jack Benny, Lenny Bruce, John Belushi, Stephen Colbert, and Tina Fey.

Chicago History is Fun
A comic actor in her own right, Hicks is a veteran of The Second City theatre company. I can attest that her theatre training makes for a lively and entertaining tour. I learned a lot about Chicago’s early history and had fun in the process.

Hicks (pictured here) and I talked Chicago history at Donna's Cafe
Elevating Chicago's Unique Character and Characters
Chicago Elevated is currently offering several tours in and around the Loop area of the city. Hicks’s humor is evident in some of the tour names. My favorite: The “Who Needs a Boat?” Riverwalk Tour. Now that’s a tour I’m interested in taking, especially now that the riverwalk is much improved, as Hicks points out in the tour description.

If you’re looking for a little fun and improvisation while learning about Chicago’s unique history, I suggest you give Chicago Elevated a try.

Mention you heard about Chicago Elevated from South Loop Connection and get two tour tickets for the price of one when booking your next tour.

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