Choose from Three Options
- $5 for a Loop Around the Bridgehouse tour for one ($8 value)
- $9 for a Loop Around the Bridgehouse tour for two ($16 value)
- $16 for a Loop Around the Bridgehouse tour for four ($32 value)
Participants meet with museum docent Jim Phillips in the museum lobby for the start of their 45-minute tour. He divulges stories and facts about river history as he leads groups from the river-level gear room to the fifth story of the bridge tower before traversing the bridge’s lower level to point out its design features. He then leads participants west along the north bank, back across the river on the State Street Bridge, and along the south Riverwalk and under Wabash Avenue Bridge. Tours depart at 11 a.m. every Friday through Sunday.
McCormick Bridgehouse & Chicago River Museum
Around 100 times during the spring and fall each year, the Michigan Avenue Bridge—or DuSable Bridge—rises to meet the sky. Since 1920, the Beaux-Arts style behemoth has spanned the Chicago River, completing Daniel Burnham’s vision of a connection between the north and south sides. Its inner workings, massive gears, and five-story bridgehouse remained empty for more than 40 years after the 1960s, until leased by Friends of the Chicago River. Now, the top of the tower down to the river teems with tour groups and exhibits exploring the history of the Chicago watershed and the 156-mile river’s branches and channels.
On bridgehouse tours, guides showcase workings of the bridge’s gears, hinges, and lower levels, and lead participants up the five-story stone tower to take in panoramic views of downtown. At river level, visitors peruse exhibits detailing the bridge’s workings, from how its double-leafed drawbridge balances with counterweights and motors to how it knows when an incoming ship is actually 10,000 seagulls in disguise. Exhibits also explore the river’s transformations over the centuries, showing how a waterway once used by Native Americans and French explorers still gives refuge to great blue herons, beavers, and fish as well as tourist boats and kayaks.