Editors’ Picks: Downtown Chicago Poetry Tour Review


Over Thanksgiving weekend, I went into Chicago with a few friends, and decided to use the opportunity to try out the downtown portion of the Poetry Foundation’s Chicago Poetry Tour.  My companions very graciously agreed to take the tour with me—no small feat, considering that it’s a 45-minute walking tour, and a few of them were dragging rolling luggage with them the whole time!  Much to our delight, it ended up being a very pleasant experience for all of us.  In particular, one of our number had never been to Chicago before, so it was a perfect way to show him pieces of the Loop.  But even for those of us who were more familiar with the city, it was wonderful to see the neighborhood around Millennium Park from a different perspective.   The downtown portion of the tour (which is the main tour listed on the web site) takes you almost straight down Michigan Avenue (perfect for us, since our train into the city disembarked at Randolph Station), and then turns west and ends a bit more inland.  It works like this: before going to Chicago, you download the audio file containing the guide, and a map (not necessary, but interesting/helpful if you’re one of those directionally challenged people like me who needs to know exactly where you are in reference to the rest of the neighborhood at every minute) from the Poetry Foundation’s website.  The audio is a single track, and is available in either mp3 or mp4.  You then put the audio file on your portable music device, and turn it on whenever you reach the tour’s start point (The Chicago Cultural Center, at 78 E. Washington).  From there, you follow the audio as it guides you through six different stops of interest (pausing whenever you want to explore a shop, get food, or look at something else along the way— the audio even recommends doing this at several points in the narration), and end up at the Harold Washington Library (400 S. State St), which is conveniently located next to a CTA stop.

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