Chicago Walking Tour: Exploring Historic Skyscrapers
61 Ratings
Discover the historic skyscrapers of Chicago on a walking tour. Learn about the innovative construction techniques and how they transformed the city into a center of skyscraper design. Support education and community engagement projects with your ticket purchase.
Duration: 1 hour, 30 minutes
Cancellation: 1 day learn more
  • Fine Arts Building - Meet here to start the tour.
  • Auditorium Building - View the building from the outside
  • The Rookery Building - View the building from the outside
  • Chicago Board of Trade Building - View the exterior of the building
  • Marquette Building - View the building from the outside
  • Monadnock Building - View the exterior of the building
  • Chicago Architecture Center - This building is not directly part of the tour, however, the tour ticket includes admission to the galleries at the Chicago Architecture Center
What's Included
  • Access to the Chicago Architecture Center Galleries
  • Guided narration by a certified professional
  • Explore Chicago’s historic architecture on a walking tour
What's Not Included
  • Food and drinks
  • Coat check
  • Storage for luggage and strollers
Additional Information

Chicago boasts some of the earliest high-rises globally. Explore these 19th Century architectural wonders, understand the cutting-edge methods used to construct them, and discover how they revolutionized Chicago into a hub of high-rise design and engineering.

This walking tour’s highlights include Burnham and Root’s Rookery (1888), a unique structure with a blend of Moorish and Romanesque exteriors and an atrium interior redesigned by Frank Lloyd Wright; Adler and Sullivan’s Auditorium Building (1889), a structure far ahead of its time in terms of acoustics and architecture; and Holabird and Roche’s Marquette Building (1895), an impressive emblem of metal frame construction with traditional accents and embellishments.

As a registered nonprofit, all ticket purchases at CAC contribute directly to our educational initiatives and community outreach programs.

  • This tour will depart from the Fine Arts Building, 410 S Michigan Ave.
  • Not recommended for young children.
  • Pets are not allowed.
  • Access to building interiors featured on this tour may be subject to change without notice due to weekend and holiday schedules or unforeseen closures.
410 S Michigan Ave
South Michigan Avenue
This tour meets at 410 S. Michigan Ave., outside the Fine Arts Building.
Cancellation Policy

For a full refund, cancel at least 24 hours before the scheduled departure time.

Customer Ratings
(61 Ratings)
5 stars
4 stars
3 stars
2 stars
1 star
May 13, 2024
Marquette and more - Though a rainy day, we enjoyed our tour of Chicago's historic skyscrapers. The docent did a nice job of explaining the history of the buildings and some of the advances in construction methods during the 1880-1920ish period. And ending in the Marquette Building's lobby is a magical way to finish.
Review provided by Tripadvisor
Feb 9, 2024
A real winter walking tour - I had an excellent walking tour with Jessica January 19, 2024 during the very cold week. I was the only architecture fanatic (from Central Europe) in -10 Celsius who signed up for the tour. Jessica explained everything very well in details, telling interesting stories too, and we had interesting conversations about the city's architecture. She also left me time to take pictures. Despite the harsh weather conditions I enjoyed our walking tour very much. Thank you Jessica and CAC for organizing this kind of tours! Ágnes
Review provided by Tripadvisor
Dec 1, 2023
Such a worthwhile tour - Deb was an absolutely incredible guide. Even though it was a bit rainy, she was enthusiastic and SO informative. Not only did I love learning all the details about the development of skyscrapers in Chicago, I gained so much knowledge about the architecture and the history of Chicago. This tour was so worthwhile!!!!
Review provided by Tripadvisor
Nov 20, 2023
Just great! - My tour with Nancy was absolutely great! Her knowledge about the city’s architecture is so impressive. It was just a great experience.
Review provided by Tripadvisor
Sep 7, 2023
Time to stop and smell the roses - I lived in the city for 10 years, and now I have lived in the suburbs for about 10 more. I cannot believe I have never one of these tours until now. It was so wonderful. I went with a group of friends while the kids were at school. Reflecting on the tour reminded me of the phrase “stop and smell the roses.” After all this time living in and next to the city, I’ve never intentionally visited just “the buildings” to admire their amazing architecture. I am so grateful to have taken the time to look, listen and learn with the CAC! I will definitely be back for more!
Review provided by Tripadvisor
Jul 25, 2023
Our tour guide Peter was WONDERFUL!! - WONDERFUL walking tour with Peter (Tour guide from CAC)!!! The tour was insightful and Peter was so pleasant, he was knowledgable and had such a great sense of humour!! It was one of my Chicago visit highlights!
Review provided by Tripadvisor
Oct 23, 2022
CAC Walking tour of Chicago’s Golden Age - Beautiful fall day to walk Michigan Ave, State St, the Loop and admire the historic buildings of Chicago’s Golden Age. The 90 minute tour was fascinating, informative & fun with guide Amanda. She was so knowledgeable & helpful, giving us all kinds of facts & history - but also insider tidbits. She also had great recommendations for dining in the area. Thx CAC & Amanda for another great tour.
Review provided by Tripadvisor
Oct 8, 2022
Chicago’s First Skyscrapers - Fascinating tour of Chicago’s earliest skyscrapers, led by Anthony, our guide from the Chicago Architecture Center. He introduced us to buildings designed by renowned architects inc Louis Sullivan, Daniel Burnham, William LeBaron Jenney & Frank Lloyd Wright, among others. Highlights for me included the Auditorium, Monadnock, Rookery & Marquette buildings. Interiors of the Rookery & Marquette (inc Tiffany mosaics!) were stunning. Tony was very engaging, fun & knowledgeable. He pointed out many design & architectural details that we would have otherwise missed, in addition to adding very interesting historical & technological context at each stop. Highly recommended!
Review provided by Tripadvisor
Jul 28, 2022
Iconic Chicago treasures between chicagos downtown lakefront and the river. - Wonderful knowledgeable tour guide, Barbara Weiner, took us in and out of iconic Chicago buildings while pointing out different styles prominent through out Chicagos history from the great Chicago Fire, up until the present.
Review provided by Tripadvisor
May 3, 2022
Great experience! - My wife and I learned a lot! Deborah was very passionate about the living history of the skyscraper. One-of-a-kind tour!
Review provided by Viator
Select Date and Tickets
up to 10 guests
July 2024