If you’re in Chicago this summer on a Friday and if you like history, take the Driehaus Museum’s Saints and Sinners walking tour. I took it on Friday and learned so much about the reformers behind the Temperance Movement and the people it affected and the hoodlums who came to power with Prohibition.
We started at the Driehaus Museum and learned the foundations of the Temperance Movement, the people behind it and the era of saloons and the power saloons owners in the city.
We then went to the Tree Studios. In the late 19th Century Lambert Tree built tree buildings for artists to work and live rent-free. The first floor was for shops to take in rent to off-set the costs of the building. How smart. Artists lived there from 1894 till 2000. Now the Tree Studios have been restored and are office space and reception rooms which can be rented out.
At the Tree Studios we got our first drink. We could choose from beer, wine or water. Then we repaired to a courtyard where we learned about saloons and how they were organized. At first a saloon had to purchase beer from one brewery. However, saloon owners would switch breweries to get a better deal and bigger profits.
Brewers then borrowed the ideas of the “Tied-House” from England. The Brewers bought saloons and only let their brand be sold there. Saloon owners now became managers. While they lost power at work, they continued to have political power because many barkeeps were precinct captains and ward bosses.
After the Tree Studios we went to St. James’ Cathedral, Fourth Presbyterian Church, the Drake Hotel, and Holy Name Cathedral. I learned a lot about female reformers, preachers, the social services that saloons provided. and prohibition and the unintended consequences, i.e. organized crime, that came from that. Along the way we had a couple more drinks. You could choose from a cocktail, beer, wine or soft drinks. The tour finished at the Kerryman Pub and lasted 3 hours.
The tour had 2 knowledgeable guides and we had 12 participants. You had to be 21 years old to take this tour. Price: $45 includes three drinks.