Old Town and the Great Fire

Germans new to America were the first to call the Old Town area their home. Later, it was the Irish. Evidences of the histories of both these immigrant cultures still exist there. What were once the modest houses of working class Irish and German families are now rehabilitated vintage homes in one of Chicago's most gentrified neighborhoods.

Wisely devised landmark regulations have helped preserve Old Town's pre-Chicago Fire and post-Chicago fire architecture. As good fortune would have it, favorable winds caused the Great Fire to hop-scotch through the neighborhood,leaving unharmed what are now wonderfully maintained examples of residence styles from the Civil War era. Some of these surviving structures are worth millions of dollars in today's real estate market. Some still stand behind their original doors and next to cobblestone alleyways.Magnificent old world St.Michael's Church, the centerpiece of the neighborhood, rebuilt within 2 years after the Great Fire, beckons visitors through its always open doors.

And then there is "contemporary Old Town", with its quaint pubs and trendy reataurants up and down historic Wells Street. The world famous Second City Comedy Improv School welcomes visitors to its lobby. Your guide will take you in to see the photo galleries of former "graduates", Dan Akroyd, Bill Murray, John Candy, Gilda Radner, Alan Alda, Mike Nichols, Elaine May and John Belushi to name just a few. Perhaps a stop across the street at storied Corcoran's Irish Pub will be a good way to go back to old Chicago. Just a ten minute ride on the Brown Line elevated train will transport you to the era before O'Leary's cow set the town on fire and gave Chicago its second beginning.

Schedule All Year
Time Call or email for available times
Meet Your Loop area hotel or inside the Randolph Street lobby of the Chicago Cultural Center at the corner of Michigan and Randolph.
Cost accessibile tour$35 per person. No credit cards.
Includes public transportation fare.
$40 per person for groups of just two people.
Children under 14 Half Price.
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