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Devil In The White City Tour Chicago History Museum

Fair City On The World’s Stage: The World’s Fair In Chicago

H.H. Holmes Downtown Walking Tour

More than a century after the Worlds Fair graced Chicagoand a killer stalked its midwaysreminders delight fans of bestselling The Devil in the White City.


HomeYou are inGet Inspired»Fair City on the World’s Stage: The World’s Fair in Chicago

In 1893, the world converged at the Chicago Worlds Fair to show off its best features and brightest ideas in a specially built fairgrounds hugging the Lake Michigan shoreline south of downtown. The developments gleaming buildings shone so brightly that they seemed to give off their own light, earning the fairgrounds an enduring nickname: The White City. Attractions housed within also dazzled fairgoers. Life-size reproductions of Christopher Columbus fleet. An Egyptian temple. A simulation of a Hawaiian volcano. A pavilion of German artillery. Electric lighting that offered a glimpse into Americas future. The fair proved to be a watershed moment for Chicago, emerging elegant and phoenix-like from its devastating Great Chicago Fire only two decades earlier.

Erik Larsons 2003 novel-like nonfiction The Devil in the White City contrasted the minds behind the fairs designincluding famed architect Daniel Burnham and landscape designer Frederick Law Olmstedwith serial killer H. H. Holmes, who used the fair to lure his many victims. Interest in the book persists, with a Leonardo DiCaprio-led series in the works at Hulu. While they wait for the premiere, fans can find fair remnants around Chicago today.

Antiquity and Intrigue

Off The Beaten Page Travel

Last weekend I spent a really cold but delightful couple of hours wandering around Jackson Park in Chicago. Ive wanted to go there ever since I read Erik Larsons bestseller The Devil in the White City. Jackson Park is where the Worlds Columbian Exposition of 1893 took place and thats the subject of Larsons non-fiction book. In The Devil in the White City, he weaves together the stories of Daniel H. Burnham, the legendary architect responsible for the fairs construction and H.H. Holmes, a serial killer masquerading as a charming doctor. He crafts the story so dramatically that readers often wonder if the book is a true story or a gripping work of fiction.

Im not the only one who has wanted to see where the story takes place. When I finished The Devil in the White City I got in my car and drove to Jackson Park, says Mary Jo Hoag, who is now tour director for the Chicago Architecture Foundations Devil in the White City tours. I just wanted to see where it all took place. So many readers have come in search of the White City that a host of tours have sprung up catering to readers who want to see first-hand where the plot thickened. Word has it that a movie version of The Devil in the White City is finally in the works, starring Leonardo DiCaprio as H.H. Holmes. That will create even more interest in seeing the real place where it all happened.

Carbon And Carbide Building

Born and raised in Chicago, Marshall knows the Windy City! He earned a degree in American History from the University of Illinois-Urbana, followed closely by a Masters degree from the School of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago. A Chicago Greeter and Certified Tour Guide of the Chicago Tour Guide Professional Association. He is a member of the St Sebastian Players ensemble and last appeared as Gonzalo in Shakespeares The Tempest.


Pat has been a Docent at Chicago Line Cruises for the past 15 years. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Notre Dame and a Masters degree from Illinois Institute of Technology. An active member in his community of Park Forest, he spent nearly two decades on the Village Board of Trustees, followed by serving on the Library Board and as President of the local Art Center. After teaching high school Art and English for 35 years, Pat continues to spread his wealth of knowledge as a professor of Humanities, Art History and art appreciation at Moraine Valley Community College.

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Weird Chicago Tours General Information

H.H. Holmes from Weird Chicagos The Devil & the White City Tour

  • See the public tour schedule above or arrange a private tour for your group! All Reservations made online!

  • The Weird Chicago Bus Tours run about 3 hours in length. We travel all over the city and we do get on and off the bus throughout the tour. We use air-conditioned and heated buses, but are frequently off the bus, so be sure to dress for the weather! We do not offer an itinerary or list of stops for the tour. It can sometimes change and sadly, other companies copy our tours so wed rather keep that info to ourselves and share it with our guests during the tour! Just come expecting the unexpected and you’ll be glad you did!

  • All tours take place rain or shine. We do get off the bus. If it’s raining, bring an umbrella. We don’t cancel because of weather . Dress according to the temperature and conditions!

  • This is also the case for walking tours we offer the tour even if it rains and ask you to bring an umbrella.

  • Children over the age of 10 are welcome on the tours, but its not recommended for kids under the age of 10. Sorry, no babies or infants in strollers on bus tours. No one under the age of 21 is allowed on our pub crawls or the Roaring 20s Tour when operating.

  • Our walking tours are offered for people of all ages, including children. We do have one pub stop on the walking tour but it is family-friendly.

White City Walking Tours 2019

Devil in the White City · Tours · Chicago Architecture Foundation

ScottEVENTS Jackson Park

There is something magical about walking through Jackson Park and thinking about how this was the center of the world for six months in 1893. On the surface there is little left of the White City, except for the some of the main landscaping features and a rebuilt Art Palace that now serves as the Museum of Science and Industry. But with an expert tour guide, the grandeur of the Dream City on the Lake resurfaces in the minds eye.

Ray Johnson has renewed his Friends of the White City Tours of Jackson Park for 2019, offered every Saturday from May through October at 11 am. The weekly tours, run cooperation with the Jackson Park Advisory Council , are free and last approximately 2.5 hours.

A Friends of the White City tour of Jackson Park in 2014.

Attending one of Rays tours five years ago sparked in us a such a fascination with the Fair that it has consumed much of our leisure time as we learn more. He is an expert on the Columbian Exposition, has assembled a thoughtful and interesting walk through the old White City, and offers fascinating anecdotes and answers to just about any question about the Fair. We highly recommend the journey to Jackson Park for a Friends of the White City Tour.

The Vamonde apps map for a self-guided tour of The 1893 Worlds Columbian Exposition.

Either way sell the cookware if necessary and come. You must see the fair!*

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Other Landmarks & Sightseeing Tours

The Chicago Architecture Center and Chicago History Museum both offer tours that examine Chicago sites from the best-selling novel by Erik Larson, Devil in the White City. Explore the true crime tale on bus and walking tours that bring the era to life and lend insight into the lives of two famous men: Chicago architect Daniel Burnham and serial killer H. H. Holmes.

On the National Register of Historic Places, the Rookery Building was designed by famed architectural partners Burnham and Root. Burnhams offices were located on the top floor, and its where every blueprint for the Columbian Exposition was drawn. Frank Lloyd Wright redesigned the two-story skylight lobby in 1907.

In Chicagos Little Italy neighborhood, a Christopher Columbus statue is located in the center of Arrigo Park. This 9-foot bronze statue was commissioned for the opening of the 1893 Worlds Columbian Exposition. It was built in Rome, blessed by Pope Leo XIII, then shipped to Chicago for the fair.

The Best Tours In The Windy City Accept No Imitations

WEIRD CHICAGO TOURS THE WINDY CITYS BEST!All Weird Chicago Bus Tours!Bus Tours: $42 Bus Tours: $32 Pub Crawls: $45 BUS TOURS DEPART FROM:Just Outside of McDonalds on Clark Street

WEIRD CHICAGO TOURS COME EXPECTING THE UNEXPECTED WITH US!Were not like any other tour in the Windy City were the tour that other companies come to when theyre looking for ideas. Why dont we offer an itinerary of our stops? Because we always want to want to keep you guessing! Plus, our tour often changes so that we can keep offering you a unique and exciting experience! We’ve been voted the “best tour in Chicago” for a reason, so see the schedule and join us soon!

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Current Tours From Weird Chicago

DEVIL AND THE WHITE CITY BUS TOURS CHICAGO’S FIRST H.H. HOLMES TOUR!Created by Weird Chicago in 2006 , this is the original tour that delves into the history, mystery, murder and mayhem of the American serial killer, H.H. Holmes and the Worlds Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893. During the Worlds Fair, Holmes operated the infamous Murder Castle and this was the first tour to take you on a journey back in time to not only the places where Holmes sought out and dispatched his victims, but also to take a look at the remnants of the spectacular fair and to get an inside look at Chicago in 1893 and what the world saw when it came to the Windy City! Experience it with the company that started it all!$42 for Adults | $32 for Kids


Our acclaimed tour of ghosts, gangsters, mystery, the macabre, and everything else that makes our tour so great and has earned us so many fantastic reviews! Join us and experience Chicagos many ghosts, haunted history, and all around strangeness! We dont just drive past Chicagos spooky places, we let you experience them first-hand! Often imitated, but never equaled, its a tour of the Windy City that you wont soon forget!

* 3 Hours of Weird Chicago History & Hauntings at the Citys Spookiest Locations!* On and Off the Bus throughout the evening* Based on More 25 Years of Research and Writing

$42 for Adults | $32 for Kids


Devil In The White City Tour

Chicago’s Best Tours: Devil In The White City

Great tour! Our guide was Kevin and he demonstrated great knowledge about both Jolmes and the fair. The stop at the site of the murder hotel was perfect. Also loved the stop in Jackson Park. Highly recommend the tour and Thais guide.


I was interested in both aspects of the tour the architecture of course, but especially the connections with Holmes and seeing the neighborhood of his infamous hotel. For as much as Holmes was addressed the tour should change its name to Pointing out the Places where the Chicago Worlds Fair took place. On arrival you are met with a short power point discussion by a docent. Our docent told us that driving past where the Murder Castle once stood was too far out of our way and so the tour does not go by there. She was also hung up on the fact that she had just read Adam Selzers book HH Holmes: The True History of the White City Devil and how Selzer negates that Holmes was an actual serial killer but a killer of convenience. So on that note she all but said she was done talking about Holmes. Nice enough lady but you could tell that she had no time for the actual meatiness of the book the tour is based on. I expected a lot more.

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Assassination Of Mayor And End Of Fair

The fair ended with the city in shock, as popular mayor Carter Harrison, Sr. was assassinated by Patrick Eugene Prendergast two days before the fair’s closing. Closing ceremonies were canceled in favor of a public memorial service.

Jackson Park was returned to its status as a public park, in much better shape than its original swampy form. The lagoon was reshaped to give it a more natural appearance, except for the straight-line northern end where it still laps up against the steps on the south side of the Palace of Fine Arts/Museum of Science & Industry building. The Midway Plaisance, a park-like boulevard which extends west from Jackson Park, once formed the southern boundary of the University of Chicago, which was being built as the fair was closing . The university’s football team, the Maroons, were the original “Monsters of the Midway.” The exposition is mentioned in the university’s alma mater: “The City White hath fled the earth,/But where the azure waters lie,/A nobler city hath its birth,/The City Gray that ne’er shall die.”

The World’s Columbian Exposition was the first world’s fair with an area for amusements that was strictly separated from the exhibition halls. This area, developed by a young music promoter, Sol Bloom, concentrated on Midway Plaisance and introduced the term “midway” to American English to describe the area of a carnival or fair where sideshows are located.

The Details In `the Devil’

As a work of history, “The Devil in the White City” by Erik Larson is gaining traction.

Since being published in 2003, Larson’s dual story of Daniel Burnham overseeing the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893 and serial killer H.H. Holmes preying on young women in the Chicago neighborhood near the fair site has sold more than 1 million copies.

Now, it’s being cited as a source by academic scholars such as Carl Smith, who lists “The Devil in the White City” in the bibliographical essay for his top-notch monograph “The Plan of Chicago.”

In addition, librarians and other experts, such as Anita Silvey, the author of the recently published reference work “500 Great Books for Teens,” are recommending Larson’s book as a fine example of non-fiction writing.

The problem is that key scenes in the book, as well as other descriptions, characterizations and details, aren’t based on historical sources or eyewitness accounts, but on Larson’s speculations, on what he seems to believe must have happened or could have happened. Yet he presents them as fact.

This is important because the bedrock of good history books and other non-fiction works is truth. Any interesting fact in a non-fiction book–for example, that in New Salem, young Abe Lincoln could throw a cannonball farther than anyone else–is all the more interesting because it’s true.

Murder details invented

The reason: Truth sells.

Stock Yards tour conjecture

Returns to subject


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Art Institute Of Chicago

The Art Institute of Chicago building is the second of the two remaining buildings from the 1893 Worlds Columbian Exposition. Its also one of the only fair buildings not on or near the grounds of Jackson Park. During the six months of the fair, it was used as an auxiliary building for international assemblies and conferences.

Despite not being on the official fairgrounds, the buildings Beaux Arts style, ancient Roman-inspired adornments, and large columns make it cohesive with the aesthetic of the rest of the White City. After the fair, the Art Institute took up permanent residence. Today, its one of the oldest and largest art museums in the world. In addition to the original building, the museum added a striking Modern Wing in 2009.

The Devil In The White City: A Haunting History Tour

Dec 8
  • All sales are final and incur 100% cancellation penalties.
  • All sales are final and incur 100% cancellation penalties.
  • The Congress Plaza Hotel & Convention Center, 520 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60605, USAThe tour meets in the Congress Lounge bar at the Congress Plaza Hotel. The bus departs from the front of the Congress Plaza Hotel on South Michigan Avenue.
  • Confirmation will be received at time of booking
  • Not wheelchair accessible
  • Infants must sit on laps
  • Most travelers can participate
  • This experience requires good weather. If its canceled due to poor weather, youll be offered a different date or a full refund
  • This tour/activity will have a maximum of 52 travelers
  • The Congress Plaza Hotel & Convention Center, 520 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60605, USAThe tour meets in the Congress Lounge bar at the Congress Plaza Hotel. The bus departs from the front of the Congress Plaza Hotel on South Michigan Avenue.
  • Returns to original departure point
  • Confirmation will be received at time of booking
  • Not wheelchair accessible
  • Infants must sit on laps
  • Most travelers can participate
  • This experience requires good weather. If its canceled due to poor weather, youll be offered a different date or a full refund
  • This tour/activity will have a maximum of 52 travelers
  • Face masks required for travelers in public areas
  • Transportation vehicles regularly sanitized
  • Face masks required for guides in public areas

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Devil In The White City

Interested in taking a “Devil in the White City” tour-which is better-Chicago Architecture Tour or the Chicago History Museum Tour??

Both CAF & CHM offer top quality tours. You can’t go wrong with either one.

I would think one would focus more on the architecture of the time, which is signicant, while the other one would focus more on the history of that era, also significant. So while both tours would be wonderful, you may want to think about which one is more interesting to you. Also, don’t forget to let us know what you thought of the tour you end up taking. I’m interested in what you think of the tour you end up taking.

The 1800 South block of Prarie St has a couple of homes left of that era.That area was where the city’s wealthy resided before they began moving to the gold coast about 3 miles north. The Marshall Field Jr house is located on south Prarie St. It was neglected for many years but has been restored. I believe the CAF has an office on that block.

CAF used to be based in Glessner House — in fact, CAF’s genesis was as the group that formed in the 1960s to save Glessner House from demolition. Glessner House is still open for tours, as is the nearby Clarke House, the oldest building in Chicago. CAF is not involved any more at Glessner or Clarke house, though at least some of the docents there were/are CAF docents too.

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