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Spring Break 1893 World’s Fair Tour for Families Overview

This mostly indoor walking tour digs into how and why the 1893 World’s Fair captures our imaginations more than any other event in Chicago history. Youth and their families will explore downtown buildings that all tie in with the history of the World’s Columbian Exposition.

In between tour commentary, the guide will lead you in interactive, educational games, including a visual scavenger hunt with historic clues. Along with guide commentary, your guide will show you on shared iPads material from archives and photographs that illuminate these festivities. You’ll even get a chance to ride in a human-operated elevator, one of the last left in the city.

This downtown tour visits some of the few remaining and spectacular buildings from the time of the World’s Fair. The fairgrounds themselves were south of downtown, where today very little remains intact from the fair. You can best see the impact of the fair right in downtown Chicago. Here the architecture and landscape still show the World’s Fair imprint even today, nearly 125 years later.

Did you read the Devil in the White City bookEither way this tour will take your understanding of the World’s Columbian Exposition to the next level. And for the record, the tour does not delve into the sensationalist serial killer part of the story as we want to focus on the dramatic changes happening to American culture around the turn of the century.

We recommend bringing kids ages 6 and up. This tour is designed to appeal to both kids and adults. Tour groups are limited to 14, and so space is very limited for this limited run special event.

Walking Tour Highlights
  • The sweeping grand lobby of the Auditorium Building
  • Ride an old elevator with a human operator
  • Violin makers and artist studios
  • Interactive, educational games
  • 19th-century architecture
  • A secret alleyway with a historic restaurant
  • Magnificent architecture of a former department store

Stories and Ideas

  • The rapid changes in culture around the turn of the century
  • A history of popcorn
  • All the different exhibits, from transportation to fine arts
  • The 1893 Fair’s array of foods and even food sculpture
  • Parlor songs of the past
  • Amusements on the Midway at the 1893 World’s Fair
  • The magnitude and brevity of this influential event

1893 World’s Fair Tour Includes:

  • Professional tour guide commentary
  • Shared iPads with historic photos
  • Light snacks
  • Game prizes and gifts


Walking distance: 0.5 mile
Tour starts in the bar lobby at the north end of the Congress Plaza Hotel, 520 S. Michigan Ave.

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