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Architecture River Cruise

Home > Chicago > Outdoor | Cruises | Architecture | Tours
by Karen Grikitis (subscribe)
I am a former journalist and editor, currently writing fiction for adults and children. Visit my website at
Published November 15th 2016
Expert commentary on the city's iconic buildings
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Cruising up the Chicago River on CAF's First Lady architectural river cruise
Many of Chicago's iconic buildings are viewed best aboard one of Chicago Architecture Foundation's (CAF) First Lady vessels. Between four and seven ninety-minute cruises a day run in the season with CAF volunteer tour guides providing informed commentary on more than 50 buildings along the Chicago River.

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(L to R) Wrigley building (1924), Intercontinental Hotel, Chicago Tribune building as seen on a CAF architectural river cruise
Notable buildings on the tour include the European Renaissance inspired Wrigley Building completed in 1924, Marina City (1967) which looks like two corn cobs, and Trump Tower finished in 2009, a 90-storey-high 'miniature' version of Dubai's Burj Khalifa.

Our guide was also very knowledgeable about the development of the city, widely regarded as the birthplace of the skyscraper. Interesting stories included how the flow of the river was reversed in 1900 to avoid polluting Lake Michigan and how planning regulations led to the 'armchair' design of many city towers.

The large, open upper deck of the boat allows plenty of room for everyone to take a seat and have a great view of the cityscape. We went in November when it was quite chilly. If you find it too cold the bar on the lower, enclosed deck offers hot cider and chocolate among other beverages. There are also washrooms on the boat.

The embarkation point is at the riverside by the south east corner of the Michigan Avenue Bridge at Wacker Drive. A blue awning marks the entrance to the stairway that takes you down to the ticket office and boat.
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Why? Brilliant way to view and learn about Chicago's iconic architecture
When: (see website for calendar)
Phone: 312.922.8687
Where: Southeast corner of the Michigan Avenue Bridge at Wacker Dr. Look for the blue awning marking the stairway entrance.
Cost: $44 (daytime cruises)
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