Open House Chicago Is Your Quite Literal Key to the City

How to enter the city's most confidential buildings — for free

September 13, 2018 9:00 am

You’ve heard of a key to the city? Unlocks every door, opens every secret passage, grants access to places once thought forbidden, etc.?

Well one weekend a year, Open House Chicago grants curious citizens exactly that: an all-access pass to more than 250 of the city’s most confidential buildings … for free.

And for their eighth edition, they’re pulling out all the stops, from a top-secret gentleman’s club to the basement vault of a building whose designers include Lloyd Wright and Burnham.

The dates to circle on your calendar: Saturday, October 13th and Sunday, October 14th. Note that while most tours are open to all comers, a select few are members-only (sign up here), and a few others require an RSVP (browse the full roster of events here).

Below, a smattering of our favorites.

Image via Eric Allix Rogers / Open House Chicago

The Rookery
209 S. LaSalle St
Not many buildings in Chicago can claim that both Daniel Burnham and Frank Lloyd Wright had a hand in their design. The former laid the plans here, while the latter redid the lobby some 20 years later. Don’t miss a visit to the underground vault, where the building’s architectural history is documented with historical artifacts.

Image via Eric Allix Rogers / Open House Chicago

House of Blues
330 N. State Street
What’s special about this tour isn’t so much the venue itself (you can buy a ticket a couple nights a week for that), but rather a visit to the Foundation Room, a members- and VIPs-only area on the fourth floor.

Image via Eric Allix Rogers / Open House Chicago

Gentleman’s Cooperative
111 W. Jackson Blvd.
The old-school men’s club includes a barbershop, custom suiting shop, bar and more.

Image via Birch Road Cellar

Birch Road Cellar
Address undisclosed
A photography studio-cum-wine cellar that usually requires a fingerprint scan for entry. It’s billed as the first private BYOB club in Chicago, though there’s a good chance you’ve probably never heard of it (which is also what makes it so damn cool). RSVP required before September 21st; entrance will be doled out via a lottery system.

Image via Blackstone Hotel

The Blackstone Hotel
636 S. Michigan Ave.
Chicago’s resident “Hotel of the Presidents” and the erstwhile hangout of one Al capone underwent a $112 million facelift in 2008, restoring it to former glory. It’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Main image via Blackstone Hotel

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