September 20, 2007

Local Tour Guide Gets a Great Mention in TimeOut

I took Al Walavich's tour of Uptown a few years ago. He knows more about the history of this neighborhood than almost anyone else I've met. He lives around the corner from the Uptown Theatre in a house his family has owned for a long time. The Uptown's artisans used the family's garage as a place to mold and create the decorative plaster for the theatre during construction, building a new garage for them when the job was done.

TimeOut Chicago gave him a great mention this week as one of three "unboring" city tour guides. I urge everyone to go on one of his tours if they get the chance.

Al Walavich

Chicago Neighborhood Tours and Chicago History Museum Tours

Alter ego
None—Walavich is a master of the art of tour guiding.

How they got their starts
Walavich’s grandmother believed they should visit deceased family members on Memorial Day, so young Al made an annual pilgrimage to six graveyards. Years later, he started giving Graceland Cemetery tours as a fund-raiser for Uptown Historical Society.

Why you’ll love each tour de force
With 25 years of tour experience, there’s nothing this man doesn’t know about the Windy City. He gives tours on the Great Fire, Devil in the White City, literary Chicago, the North Side, Chicago highlights, lake history...

Favorite sites
Little-known monuments in Graceland: the graves of John Dickey, the city’s first firefighter to die in the line of duty, and John Huck, the last person to die in the Great Fire and the father-in-law of Marshall Field’s daughter.

Best lines
“I’m a disgusting ham who can’t control myself! I love sharing things!”

How tourists react
Each year, 300 to 400 people vie for his tours, including repeat customers who’ve been loyal for seven years.

Catch their tour
Walavich will give five Graceland tours (his specialty) on October 27, 28 and 31. For tickets, go to


Uptown Updater said...

I would love to take one of his tours of Uptown sometime. I'm having trouble finding just an Uptown specific tour. If you find a link, you should post it and I'm sure many residents would do it. I'll even add a link on "Uptown Update" if you come across one.
Thanks a lot,

Joanne said...

The last Chicago Neighborhood Tour for Uptown was scheduled for August. They should start up again in the spring.

Here's the site:

There is, however, a tour of Uptown this Saturday through Chicago Architecture Foundation. It starts in front of Truman College. No reservations required, you just show up at 10:30 at the entrance:

Non-member $ 10.00
Senior $ 5.00
Student $ 5.00
CAF member FREE


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