Explore Every Corner of Chicago with Chicago Ideas This Fall

With more than 100 neighborhoods spread across 77 community areas, Chicago is a patchwork city. From Hegewisch to Rogers Park; from Austin to the lakefront, every nook and cranny around town has something unique and interesting to offer. Whether you’re a lifelong resident or a visitor, there’s always going to be a part of Chicago that you’ve never stepped foot in.

This October, Chicago Ideas is set to take you out of your comfort zone by leading a series of insightful neighborhood Labs that will change the way you look at the city. Chicago is currently facing a lot of challenges, and a great starting place for finding solutions is to gain an intimate understanding of the city as a whole.

The Chinatown You’ve Never Seen: An Underground Tour

Photograph: CC/Wikimedia Commons/Daniel Schwen

Photo: CC/Wikimedia Commons/Daniel Schwen

More than just a hotspot of delicious food, Chicago’s Chinatown is a bustling epicenter of local businesses and culture. Join Jimmy Lee, the former executive director of the Chicago Chinatown Chamber of Commerce, for a behind-the-scenes walking tour featuring Chinatown’s hidden gems. You’ll get an insider’s look at the neighborhood’s fascinating history and sample the dishes that every foodie needs to know about.

A New Lens on Your Community with Greg Birman & The Chicago Community Trust

Chicago-based photographer Greg Birman has a truly incredible track record of illuminating the sights, sounds and individuals that are unique to the city through stunning images. Birman is behind the creative content service Devour City. In collaboration with the Chicago Community Trust, this Lab will take attendees on a neighborhood tour like none other. Birman will guide participants through the Wabash Arts Corridor in the South Loop while exploring the area through photography and telling a stunning visual story of the community. Bring your camera phone or personal camera to follow along.

City as Classroom: Explore Pullman with the Civic Leadership Academy

Photograph: CC/Flickr/Payton Chung

Photograph: CC/Flickr/Payton Chung

Explore the historic neighborhood of Pullman with the Civic Leadership Academy Fellow Jennifer Bransfield and the Chicago Neighborhood Initiative in this CIW Lab in collaboration with JPMorgan Chase. Pullman is home to Chicago’s first urban national park, and attendees will get an in-depth look into the area’s history and how Bransfield is using her role as a community leader to revitalize the area and create jobs.

Rebuilding the South Side: Comer Education Campus Tour with Architect John Ronan

Discover how education and architecture can transform a neighborhood at this CIW Lab with with award-winning architect John Ronan. Attendees will tour the Comer Education Campus and discover how Ronan collaborated with a philanthropist to create a center that’s managed to lift up and inspire Grand Greater Crossing and the surrounding area. While at the state-of-the-art facilities, you’ll join teens on the rooftop garden for a brief activity, see tomorrow’s leaders at work in the tech lab and get a general sense of what’s on the minds of teens from Chicago’s South Side.

Exploring the Chicago Riverwalk with Ross Barney Architects

Photograph: CC/Flickr/Cristina Bejarano

Photo: CC/Flickr/Cristina Bejarano

Since its installation, the Chicago Riverwalk has changed the face of the city’s downtown area. Extending from Michigan Avenue all the way to Lake Street, it offers a mix of concessions and public activities. At this Lab, get an in-depth look at the Riverwalk from its designers, Ross Barney Architects. Discover all of the careful thought that went into creating Chicago’s newest flagship public amenity, and walk away with a newfound understanding of what the river means to the city.

The Austin Neighborhood You’ve Never Seen with United Way

The Austin neighborhood on Chicago’s West Side is one of the most tight-knit communities in the city. In this Lab, join United Way of Metropolitan Chicago for an on-the-ground look at how community development happens. Participants will learn about the issues and assets that affect the Austin community, and will tour the neighborhood while gaining a greater understanding of what investments need to be made in order to empower Austinites to change their community.

PORT Urbanism’s Architectural Walking Tour of Chicago

Re-envision city spaces with PORT Urbanism, the consulting firm behind the architectural redesigns of spaces like the Old Cook County Hospital and Goose Island. Join PORT Founders (and CIW’s 2015 Artist-in-Residence) Christopher Marcinkoski for an experience that will leave you viewing Chicago’s architecture in a whole new light. The tour will highlight Chicago’s legacy of “thinking big”—moving the lakefront, reversing the river, layering the city, etc.—in order to provoke new possibilities for what the 21st century Chicago can be. Attendees will walk through (and under) Millennium Park, past the Illinois Center and throughout River East and around other parts of the downtown area in a one-of-a-kind architectural experience.

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