Chicago offers many ways to explore its myriad neighborhoods and learn about its history. By cruising down the Chicago River, you get a perspective unavailable to even the most scrupulous explorer.
The group on our little boat called the "Ouilmette" (the authentic spelling of the upscale North Shore suburb of Wilmette) had an energetic and informative guide named Mallory.
For the casual observer, or the budding student of art and architecture ( I filled 16 pages of notes in the 75-minute tour) the experience will give one a conversational knowledge and new appreciation for the Second City.
Among the things I found in my notes just now:
--Chicago is the home of the first skyscraper. It was 10 stories tall. The introduction of the steel frame made it possible to take the supporting weight off the building's walls.
--The Merchandise Mart has 4.25 million square feet, and 14 miles of hallway.