Openhousechicago 2011 is targeted at everyone who has ever passed a building and thought, "I wish I could see what the inside looks like." The event gives backstage passes to more than 100 spaces around the city, requires no tickets or reservations, and is free and open to the public.
On October 15 and 16, the Chicago Architecture Foundation will set up five community hubs in downtown, Bronzeville, the Rogers Park/West Ridge community, Little Village and the Garfield Park/North Lawndale community. Each hub will serve as a spot to get your bearings, take a breather and get a family-friendly explanation of how to "read" a building.
"The idea for everybody is that Chicago is not just about downtown; there are riches throughout the community," says Barbara Gordon, vice president of program operations for CAF. "Our hope is that locals will come and experience something new."
But it isn't all about arches and Tiffany glass. Unique educational opportunities will be offered throughout the weekend, such as a visit to the rooftop garden at Uncommon Ground on Devon Avenue, a re-enactment of the jazz club days of Meyers Ace Hardware in Bronzeville, a backstage tour of Lookingglass Theatre, and behind-the-scenes looks at how frozen pizza is made or how plastic bottles are converted into raw material, both in Little Village.
Since sites are clustered together, you can choose a particular neighborhood and visit all the locations there, or take the free neighborhood shuttle to move between hubs. Gordon says families should arrive early, but cautions that there will be lines (CAF members can jump the queues). The CAF Twitter feed will keep attendees posted on waits at different locations.
The CAF website also will post ADA accessibility in the description of the individual sites, a good indication of stroller accessibility.
Gordon says the weekend probably appeals most to kids in the later elementary years, but each visit can be tailored to kids' ages and interests.
"I think it's about seeing some really cool things," she says.
Check out other happenings in October.
Elizabeth Diffin is the associate editor at Chicago Parent. She lives in Wheaton.
See more of Elizabeth's stories here.