Chicago, Illinois audio tour: A Storied Neighborhood, Wrapped in Contradiction

A Storied Neighborhood, Wrapped in Contradiction

Walking Tour

40 mins

About the Tour

The route begins at the Laboratory Schools founded by John Dewey, and winds through the University of Chicago. Along the way walkers will encounter world renowned architects and Nobel Laureates, robber barons and artists, the DuSable Museum of African American History and the birthplace of the Atomic Age. In storied Washington Park there may be soccer or cricket matches underway, bicycle rallies or softball games in progress, waves of runners or families gathered for a picnic. From there it's a short stroll to the home of President Barack Obama and his family.

Tour Producer


William Ayers

William Ayers, formerly Distinguished Professor of Education and Senior University Scholar at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) has written extensively about social justice and democracy, education and the cultural contexts of schooling, and teaching as an essentially intellectual, ethical, and political enterprise. His books include A Kind and Just Parent; Teaching toward Freedom; Fugitive Days: A Memoir; On the Side of the Child; Teaching the Personal and the Political; To Teach: The Journey, in Comics; Race Course: Against White Supremacy; and Public Enemy: Confessions of an American Dissident.

Major Landmarks

  • DuSable Museum of African American History

Directions to Starting Point

The walk begins on Kimbark Avenue and 59th Street. From downtown a Chicago Transit Authority express bus can deliver walkers to within a couple of blocks of the start, and 57th Street is busy with restaurants, bookstores, and commercial activity, worth a stop before or after the walk.

Show Directions
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Places to stop along the way

Rockefeller Chapel, Frank Lloyd Wright's Robie House, the DuSable Museum of African American History, Jesse Jackson's Operation PUSH.

Best time of day

It's a wonderful walk anytime, but best in the daylight.


It's an American city after all--rich, varied, wildly diverse, contradictory, filled with surprises.


This is a fabulous tour - informed, fascinating, and quirky in all the right ways. Ayers lets you peer into Hyde Park's history of struggle and possibility. Ayers is a master story-teller joining the ranks of Studs Terkel, Howard Zinn, and Eric Foner. Take this tour!

Posted by Joel , almost 3 years ago

A good way to understand an unfamiliar neighborhood as the GPS triggered voice commands keep you on track. The narrative offered was interesting if not clouded by the narrator's political leanings. However the long bouts of silence in between locations felt like a huge wasted opportunity to move beyond "the struggle" and discuss this historically rich neighborhood. In short, worthwhile but room for improvement.

Posted by Mark P , over 4 years ago

i disagree with your ideology, Mr. Ayers I think you are a traitor to your country. Thank you.

Posted by Justin Dzubinski , over 5 years ago
Preview mode limited to first 3 locations.
A Storied Neighborhood, Wrapped in Contradiction