Ben Reitman’s Hobohemia

In the early 20th century, Chicago was a major railway hub, and the Main Stem Wells to Ashland on Madisonwas home to anywhere from 30,000 to 75,000 transient men. Reitman would lead tours of the area, catering to everyone from University of Chicago sociologiststo the general public, visiting slave markets (employment agencies), flophouses, saloons, soup kitchens, and missions. Together we’ll follow his path, stopping at sites including the Rufus Dawes Hotel (a model hotel for transients, funded by Calvin Coolidge’s Vice President), Bum Park, the Hobo College, the Proletarian bookstore, and the Industrial Workers of the World Headquarters. We’ll learn the Hobo Code, the best way to make Mulligan Stew, how to de-louse one’s duds, the secret of the Big Rock Candy Mountain and we’ll be visited by some real-life hobos, buskers, and radicals, too.


In 1886, many Americans labored 14 hours days, 6 days a week, for wages that couldn’t support a family. On May 1st, workers across the country went on strike for an 8 hour day – and in Chicago on May 4th, the fight led to a bomb being thrown, 8 police dying, and 8 labor leaders going on trial. The incident divided the country and continues to be debated but also led to May Day, the international labor holiday on May 1st.

The Hidden History of the University of Chicago

Crescat scientia; vita excolatur

The City White hath fled the earth, but the City Grey ne’er shall die. Join Mr. Thorstein B. Veblen, Tutor in Political Economy (AB Carleton, PhD Yale) as he leads a campus tour as part of the University Extension program. Stroll through the Quadrangles, give out a spirited yell at Stagg Field, purchase picture postcards at the Press, participate in the University Sing where will be performed such delightful ditties as “John D. Rockefeller” and “The Professors Make the Customs at the U,” and delight in the garrulous conversation and sharp wit of “Buttons,” Green Hall’s oft-put-upon elevator operator. Learn the answer to such pressing questions as: Are anarchists to blame for the collapse of Harper Library’s west tower? How old is “Old Haskell Door”? Will the sex segregation of the Junior Colleges preserve the “manly arts”? Is Mr. John Dewey, Head of Philosophy, misguided in his opposition to “affiliate” with all Chicago Public Schools? Where are the rifles and munitions stored? And, most important of all, can Latin be saved?

The Working Man’s Guide to the World’s Columbian Exposition

This tour offers a from-the-ground-up history by looking at the labor and lives of the men and women who built the buildings and landscaped the land for one of the most significant events in Chicago’s history, the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition. Learn how the first Ferris wheel was constructed, the Court of Honor erected, the Wooded Isle reclaimed from the lake! Thrill to the adventures of Walter Wyckoff, the young Princeton economics professor who infiltrated the fair’s labor camp disguised as a common laborer! Discover the dangers posed to the “native” American worker by the dreaded, wage-killing, unskilled Irish! Mourn the fate of Midway performers from distant parts cruelly abandoned in Chicago! Relive the squalor of squatting in derelict Exposition 
buildings during one of the worst depressions in the nation’s history! In other words, this is a tour for people who know about Burnham and The Devil in the White City but want to hear the rest of the story (and are perhaps curious about how big events, like, say, the Olympics, shape the city and its neighborhoods).

The Mysteries and Natural Wonders of Bridgeport Trolley Tour

Sunday, May 13, 2012, 3pm
Co-Prosperity Sphere
3219 S Morgan
Hours: 3pm
Admission: Free
Bridgeport isn’t just home to numerous Chicago mayors. It’s also got old stone quarries; historic bars; defunct breweries; settlement house; fictional, opinionated Irishmen; and some mighty fine chili. Tour traces Bridgeport history from Marquette all the way through Mayor Daley!
Join us for the trolley tour on May 13th.  The Trolley tour is $30  and includes stops at famous and infamous Bridgeport watering holes. RSVP to and be sure to indicate the date. You will be asked to purchase your ticket online after you RSVP.

Crime of the Century: Leopold & Loeb and the Murder of Bobby Franks

On May 21, 1924, in the city of Chicago, a young boy went missing. He was walking in the late afternoon between the Harvard School, where he was a popular student, and his house, one of Kenwood’s many mansions. Later that night his father, Jacob Franks, received a phone call informing him that his son, Bobby, had been kidnapped but could be ransomed for ten thousand dollars. The next morning, south of the city, near Wolf Lake, a pump man for the American Maize CO saw a human foot sticking out from the edge of a culvert. Bobby had been beaten to death with a blunt object. Suspicion fell on the boy’s teachers but then the chance discovery of a pair of glasses with a unique tortoise shell frame led police to question the nineteen year old son of a shipping magnate. The young man, an amateur ornithologist, claimed he’d been at the Lake the week prior, looking for cranes. He had an alibi for the night of the kidnapping, a friend, also a resident of Kenwood, the son of the vice president of Sears-Roebuck. But suddenly there were all these things—the glasses, an Underwood typewriter, a green touring car, a length of rope, a chisel with a taped handle, a bottle of hydrochloric acid, another of chloroform, a checkered stocking—that traced a series of encounters disproving the story told by Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb. Had these young men of wealth and education killed Franks, as they claimed, for the “thrill of it”?

Fort Dearborn Memorial Walk


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