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The Big City Blog: Open House Chicago offers a rare glimpse inside more than 350 Chicago buildings Oct. 19-20

By Trent Modglin

Ever been out exploring in a city with as many architectural marvels as Chicago and wanted to go behind the scenes to see what’s inside some of your favorite, most iconic buildings? Well, here’s your chance, as the Chicago Architecture Center hosts Open House Chicago, a unique public festival that gets you access to many of the city’s architectural gems from downtown to the outer reaches of the most diverse neighborhoods.

See the most lavish theaters, exclusive private clubs and offices, towering skyscrapers, restored mansions, breathtaking hotels and churches, secret rooms and much more. Many of these spaces are rarely open to the public, if ever.

Last year, an estimated 100,000 people partook, visiting 279 sites in a total of 29 Chicago neighborhoods and the suburbs of Oak Park and Evanston, making it one of the most popular events of its kind in the world.

This year, it’s even larger, with a list topping out at 350 buildings. And here’s the best part. It’s completely free. No need to buy tickets. No need to even register. Just show up. And it’s easy to plan ahead and stay in the know with all the events and participating buildings.

The Chicago Architecture Center (111 E. Wacker Dr.) is a non-profit cultural institution that offers 85 different tours of the city, as well as exhibitions, programs and events for all ages. Open House Chicago runs on Oct. 19-20 from 10 a.m.-5 p.m., with times varying by site.

Visit or the CAC’s Facebook and Twitter accounts for updated information, building bios and the option to create your own itinerary to maximize the opportunities over what could be a busy two days of admiring the best architecture Chicago has to offer.