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Chicago

Obscura Society IL: A Land-Based Exploration of the Chicago River's North Branch

A walking tour covering the history of the Chicago River, focusing on the North Branch.

In celebration of Atlas Obscura's Underwater Week, Illinois mischief makers invite you to explore the North Branch.

The Chicago River carries millions of tourists every year, but those big tour boats don’t make it all the way up to the North Branch. Join Field Agent Patti Swanson on a unique walking tour that covers the river’s history from the early days of European exploration, to its historic (and occasionally disgusting) role in Chicago’s sewage system, to its current, cleaner status that supports bountiful flora & fauna. The tour will take place in and around the Albany Park neighborhood, and includes a stop at the confluence of the North Branch and the North Shore Channel in River Park. See some of the most wild, natural, and beautiful parts of the river that most Chicagoans miss, and end the evening with a pay-your-own-way meal at Marie's Pizza and Liquors at 4127-29 W Lawerence Ave. 

Adventure Notes
This event will run rain or shine.

Are there age limits for the tour? Nope, this event is family friendly but parents have to keep an eye on their kids.

Where do we meet? Francisco Station, CTA Brown Line--look for our guide, Patti. 

How long is the walk? 3.4 miles, see map here.

Is this ADA accessible? Limited access.

Is my ticket refundable? No, sorry kids, no money back on this purchase but you can transfer it by following this handy Eventbrite tutorial.


Patti Swanson is an architectural historian, educator, preservation enthusiast, and bookbinder living in Chicago. Raised near Austin, Texas, Patti came to Chicago in 2011 to pursue a degree in art history at School of the Art Institute of Chicago and stayed for the city's rich history, friendly people, and balmy winters. She worked as a tour guide for four years in various capacities before starting her own walking tour company, Chicago for Chicagoans, in 2016. Patti factors lots of local collaboration into her tours and strongly believes in making history accessible to everyone. She is best described as "Shazam for buildings," and can be found on her websites, pattijeanswanson.com and chicagoforchicagoans.weebly.com

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