Our friends-of-the-blog over at the Chicago Architecture Foundation have released this year’s list of locations for Open House Chicago. If you’re not familiar with Open House Chicago, it’s one weekend in October set aside to let architecture nerds run around the city like a bunch of sugar-soaked kids who broke into the Halloween candy, scattering asthma inhalers and Ventra cards in their wake.
It’s also an opportunity for regular people to visit nooks and crannies of the city they normally would never see. Sky-high office suites, deep underground vaults, factory floors, and some spaces that remain closed off all year except for during this event. And the amazing thing is in a time when taking the family to the art museum costs more than an iPhone, and taking them to a Cubs game costs more than a used car, it’s one of the few things in Chicago that remains free.
There are 200 locations on offer this year, though the list is every-so-slightly shorter for people who aren’t C.A.F. members. Be warned that certain locations are mobbed immediately. Last year several venues couldn’t handle the crowds (Allerton Hotel, Groupon, et.al.). Even places reserved for CAF members can end up with 400 people in line at the ass crack of dawn (anything at 35 East Wacker). And since this is a volunteer event (that’s why it’s free), sometimes places don’t always open on time (Civic Opera House). The best strategy is to hit a few must-sees downtown first thing in the morning, then head out into the neighborhoods for the rest of the day.
Below are ten recommendations for places to go. These aren’t necessarily the most obvious places, or the most popular. But they’ll give you the most bang for your imaginary buck (remember, it’s free), and take you amazing places.
- The Oriental Theater — 24 West Randolph Street
- Columbia Yacht Club — 111 North Lake Shore Drive
- Sky-Line Club — 307 North Michigan Avenue
- The Plant — 1400 West 46th Street
- Meyer’s Ace Hardware/Sunset Cafe – 315 East 35th Street
- Poetry Foundation — 61 West Superior Street
- Brewster Apartments – 2800 North Pine Grove Avenue
- Thalia Hall — 1807 South Allport Street
- Park Castle Condominiums — 2416 West Greenleaf Avenue
- Park Gables Apartments — 2428 West Estes Avenue