Chicago Walking Tour: Art Deco Architecture
Discover the opulent exteriors and interiors of the Roaring '20s Jazz Deco and the classic finishes of Art Moderne buildings in this 2 hour tour. Learn of Chicago's influence on the international Art Deco movement, and trace the history of lively architectural heritage.
During the period between the two World Wars, an eclectic design style developed that later became known as Art Deco, used to refer to a mix of styles from the 1920s and 1930s. Through the Roaring Twenties and the Great Depression of the 1930s, the Art Deco style infused the everyday world with an elegant style of cool sophistication.
What characterizes Art Deco design most is its geometry and simplicity, often combined with vibrant colors and simple shapes that celebrate the rise of commerce and technology. From luxurious objects made from exotic materials to mass produced, streamlined items. Chicago's Jazz Age architecture was simply called Modernistic when it was created in the 1920s, and Moderne as it evolved into the Swing era of the 1930s. Whether starkly cubistic or smoothly streamlined, the new office and apartment buildings that redefined the skyline embodied the new language of building until the 1950s.
On this tour you will discover the opulent exteriors and interiors of the Roaring '20s Jazz Deco buildings and the classic finishes of Art Moderne buildings. Learn of Chicago's influence on the international Art Deco movement, and trace the history of this short-lived but lively architectural heritage. Come and experience the very essence of Art Deco!
Recent Photos of this Tour
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Please meet 15 minutes before departure at the CAF’s Shop & Tour Center 224 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago.
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11am Art Deco Walking Tour
Tour departs at 11am
Chicago Board of Trade
- Walking tour of Downtown Chicago Art Deco architecture
- Narration by a professional and certified Guide
- Food and beverages
- Confirmation will be received at time of booking
- Tour Guides are trained and certified by the CAF. As volunteers, they are exceptionally motivated, enthusiastic, and capable interpreters of Chicago's world-class architectural legacy. CAF tours are the real deal - narrated, but not scripted, led by Chicago enthusiasts
Please note: this tour is not suitable for young children. The academic and historic content of the tour is oriented to adults and mature young people.
CTA rapid transit stations: (walking distance from the following)
- Adams/Wabash station for the Brown, Green, Orange and Purple Lines
- Jackson/State Station for the Red Line
- Jackson/Dearborn Station for the Blue Line
Walk east on Adams or Jackson to Michigan Avenue. At Adams, turn right (south) on Michigan Avenue.
CTA Bus Lines:
- Take any CTA bus that travels downtown and intersects with (starting from the south) Van Buren, Jackson, Adams, Monroe, Madison, Washington or Randolph. Walk (or connect on a CTA bus) east to Michigan Avenue.
- Free downtown trolley service is provided by the City of Chicago and serves most of Michigan Avenue, the Museum Campus, and Navy Pier and also connects to the train stations. Schedules vary by season.
ArchiCenter is operated by the Chicago Architecture Foundation and is
located at 224 South Michigan Avenue in the CAF’s Shop & Tour Center
across from the Art Institute on the northwest corner of Jackson
Boulevard at Michigan Avenue. Open 361 days a year from 9:30am-6:30pm
Monday-Saturday, 9:30am-6:00pm Sundays. The ArchiCenter has free
galleries and interpretive exhibits as well as a museum shop.
- Chicago's major expressways converge just west of the Loop. Exit at Congress Avenue and proceed east (this is also the eastbound extension of I-290)
- Lakeshore Drive, from Hollywood in the north to Jackson Park in the south, follows the shoreline and is east of downtown. Exit at Bal
Metra operates 11 suburban commuter lines serving downtown Chicago.
- Ending at Union Station just west of the Loop and south of the Ogilvy Transportation Center: Heritage Corridor Line, North Central Service, Southwest Service, Burlington Northern Santa Fe, Milwaukee District North&West Lines.
- Ending at the Ogilvy Transportation Center (formerly the Northwestern Train Station) just west of the Loop and north of Union Station: Union Pacific North Line, Northwest Line and West Line. From these two stations it is a 20 minute walk east to Michigan Ave, or take a #20 or #56 eastbound CTA bus on Jackson Boulevard, or connect with the free trolley shuttle.
- Ending at the LaSalle Street Station: The Rock Island District Line. Walk east on Van Buren to Michigan and then north on Michigan to Jackson.
- Ending at the Randolph Street Station: The Metra Electric Line and the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District (South Shore Line). Get off at the Van Buren/Jackson Station (the stop before the end). From here, walk one block north on Michigan Avenue to Jackson.
Reviewed by: Lloyd N, October 2014
The docent was very knowledgeable, friendly and open to answering any question. Practical use of headset technology. Great value!
Reviewed by: Steven S, September 2014
The tour was everything we hoped for. We saw excellent examples of Deco architecture in one of the coolest cities in the country. Our guide, Barbara, was excellent and very informative. She definitely had some "connections" (definitely legal!!!) that allowed us to see some things that the general public may not be able to see. I would rate this tour a 10!