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A Chicago River cruise on an Architecture Boat

A Chicago River cruise that will float your boat

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postedJanuary 31, 2019

I grew up in rural Iowa, and Chicago was a place my family visited every year or two—mainly because my dad and brothers were Cubs fans. As an adult, I have kept the city in heavy rotation for vacations, and during a weekend trip last year, my wife and I took our first architectural sightseeing Chicago River cruise.

Kelli and I visited during shoulder season and, even though it was a chilly day, our 90-minute cruise with the Chicago Architecture Foundation was packed. Temperatures were in the 40s, but it was a sunny day, and the mid-afternoon rays did the photographers on board Chicago’s First Lady a favor by perfectly lighting up the vast majority of the buildings we passed.

The Chicago River cruise boarded at a dock by Michigan Avenue and Wacker Drive and then headed west along the river. Even though we’ve seen a number of the structures the tour covers before, we were fascinated by the deep-dive narration.

Our interpreter did an excellent job of detailing the past and current uses of the historical buildings along the route. Some are still owned by the same company and used for the same purpose. But a number of the structures had changed hands and had been transformed by the new owners into luxurious boutique hotels, hip restaurants, sleek condos or ultra-modern office spaces.

To learn more about the company’s Chicago River cruises and other tours, as well its new exhibit space at the Chicago Architecture Center, contact Deb Rodak or go to

Top photo: Chicago Architecture Foundation's boat tour on the Chicago River
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