"Open House weekend" Top 5 Page for this destination Chicago Things to Do Tip by Dabs
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Chicago has joined a number of other international cities in offering an Open House weekend, the 3rd Open House weekend was October 19-20, 2013. The Open House is free to visitors and is sponsored by the Chicago Architecture Foundation. In 2013 they featured 13 areas that had more than 150 sights open to the public, some of them central including downtown and the Gold Coast which is great for those without cars; some just outside the central area that are easy to reach including Prairie Avenue and Lincoln Park and further afield neighborhoods including Garfield Park/North Lawndale, Pullman, Hyde Park, South Shore, Uptown, Rogers Park/West Ridge, Near West Side, Bridgeport/Back of the Yards and Pilsen that are much easier to tour with a car.
Even with a car we couldn't visit all of the area so we concentrated on Lincoln Park, Pilsen, Hyde Park and Prairie Avenue on Saturday and then downtown on Sunday without a car. It helps to pick up one of the guides (or print from their website) and figure out a route so you are not zig sagging around town. Some of the places are open year round, some of the ones that offer tours regularly give abbreviated tours for the Open House. Some of the participants are just trying to drum up business. We managed to skip the ones that seemed like they were on the tour to drum up business although we did cut out of one tour when it became clear it was less about the building than the architectural firm; but most of the places were really cool.
Some places like the Driehaus Museum and Charnley-Perksy House are normally open for tours but with a fee. Some other places like the Ebenezer Baptist Church or Powhowtan Apartments you probably wouldn't think of visiting and others like the Monroe Building I've walked by hundreds of times without thinking to stop.
Last year we got to see the boardroom of Marshall Field's (OK, I know it's Macy's but the carpet is still Marshall Field green), Col. McCormick's office in the Tribune Tower, the Emil Bach house, one of Frank Lloyd Wright's designs that is not usually open to the public; the beautiful swimming pools at the Park Castle and Park Gables apartments and the Louis Sullivan designed Auditorium Building's library and Ganz Hall.
If you become a member of the CAF you get priority access but we only waited at one place and that was only for 10 minutes or so, getting to the Driehaus Museum earlier in the day meant no lines at the one place I thought for sure we'd hit one.
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