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Pocket Guide to Hell presents The PIT, a free and fun historical reenactment, on Sunday, October 20, 2013 at 3PM at the Chicago Board of Trade (141 W. Jackson) as part of the Chicago Architecture Foundation’s Open House Chicago event.

The PIT takes a scene from Frank Norris’s 1903 novel The Pit and the form of a sports event, an idea suggested by Bertolt Brecht, to explain the history, development, and impact of futures contracts trading on Chicago.

While 1890s futures traders jostle for dominance in the wheat pit, play-by-play announcer Alex Keefe (WBEZ) and color commentators Tim Samuelson (Chicago’s cultural historian) and Mike Gorham (IIT) narrate the action. Pit Reporter Niala Boodhoo (WBEZ) interviews both the traders and the public as the corner in wheat collapses.

Brass Inferno’s Justin Amolsch provides a marching band accompaniment while chef Maggie Hennessy sells commodity-based concessions.

The 1890s traders are played by volunteers from SlowFood Chicago, Northwestern University Press, Archeworks, The Hideout, Public Media Institute, Paddy Long’s, Civic Lab, MAKE magazine, and Architecture for Humanity.

Leading up to The PIT is a Wednesday, October 2nd fundraiser at 6 PM at the Hideout (1354 W Wabansia) where the classic Parker Brothers card game The Pit (as seen on TV’s Freaks and Geeks) is going to be played tournament-style for prizes donated by Chicago Architecture Foundation, Northwestern University Press, and hand-signals historian and trader Ryan Carlson. MAKE magazine hosts an interview with Time Samuelson by Adam Burke after the tournament.

Pocket Guide to Hell, started in 2008 by Paul Durica, is a series of free walks, talks, and reenactments dealing with Chicago’s history. It has been featured in the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Huffington Post, and The Atlantic Cities among other places. See for information about past and upcoming programs.


Paul Durica, 773-822-9379,

Ingrid Gladys Haftel, 206-851-0891,