Twenty-first Century Style Architectural Tour

A new way to take a tour of Chicago’s architectural marvels using a 2-D barcode and smart phones. Sounds very cool, I’ll let you know how it works.


A new walking tour will let you download the history of great Chicago buildings on a web-enabled cell phone.

The tour promises to give you a quick and easy way to access loads of information about ten early Chicago skyscrapers, among them Louis Sullivan’s former Carson Pirie Scott & Co. store (now the Sullivan Center) at the corner of State and Madison Streets, Holabird & Roche’s Marquette Building at 141 S. Dearborn St., and D.H. Burnham & Co.’s Railway Exchange Building (now the Santa Fe Building) at 80 E. Jackson Blvd.

The tour has been put together by the Chicago-based Society for Architectural Historians and it’s expected to be up and running by Saturday, April 17.

“We don’t get a penny. It’s a public service,” said Pauline Saliga, executive director of the society, which is holding its annual convention in Chicago from April 21 to 25.

The tour uses a barcode technology called the Microsoft tag. Each tag is a small icon. The SAH is posting tags on signs in the lobbies of ten early Loop skyscrapers. (An example, from the former Carson Pirie Scott store, is above.)

To get the tour info, which is free, you download the free Microsoft application for your web-enabled cell phone (say, an iPhone or a BlackBerry) at: Then, open the application on your phone and, with the application still open, use your phone to photograph the tag on one of the lobby signs. Presto! A photo of the building and its history is supposed to appear.

“The Sky’s the Limit: A Century of Chicago Skyscrapers” (Rizzoli International Publications)

The text comes from the authoritative 1990 book, “The Sky’s The Limit: A Century of Chicago Skyscrapers.” Saliga was its editor.

[Click to continue reading Cityscapes: Point, shoot and learn–new system lets you download tour information about great Chicago skyscrapers ]

Other than using the proprietary Microsoft tag instead of the open-source QR code, this is an awesome idea, and hope it spreads to more areas, and even other cities

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