About Margaret Hicks

I'm Margaret. I'm an author, a tour guide, a traveler and a whole bunch of fun.

pedhirez

Chicago Elevated Talks Some Pedway In The Tribune!

I got a phone call last week from Barbara Brotman, a journalist from the Trib. She was so excited because she found a precious link from the lower half of the Michigan Ave bridge to the Pedway.

I was excited for her, I know how delicious pedway discoveries can be! We talked a bit and voila! There’s a quote or two from yours truly in her article about the pedway!

“Don’t be embarrassed, ” said Margaret Hicks, who gives tours of the Pedway with her Chicago tour company, Chicago Elevated. “Most people don’t even know about the Pedway at all.”

She loves the Pedway for it’s hiddenness and it’s underground urban community, but considers it poorly marked and confusing.

And the Metra train platform cut-through is the most complicated and little-known section of the system. “Someone had to show me that part, I will admit,” she said. “It takes a fellow Chicagoan to show you the way.”

 

Everyone’s still learning about the Pedway! I love it. There’s still much to explore!
Photo courtesy ABC7

Blackhawks WIN!

The Blackhawks win! Yes, yes, the Blackhawks win. HAWKS.

I’m not going to lie to you fine people, I am not really a sports person. I watched Jordan pretty religiously when that happened, but that’s about it. I know enough to know enough to give tours. I understand about billygoats, Bartmans and Superbowl Shuffles and I know that right now, the Blackhawks ARE our winning team.

But I don’t have a jersey, I forgot which games were at home. I kind of watched the last three games but I was totally doing other things. I’ll admit it, I’m as fair-weather as they come.

But it comes down to what past mayors, politicians and businessmen have known forever – what is good for Chicago is good for me. Whatever good comes to this city makes my heart glad, makes my tears well up and makes me excited for just how awesome this city is.

Oddly enough, my mother loved hockey, when I was 16 or 17 (almost thirty years ago, ouch, that was hard to type) she and my stepfather would go to Blackhawks games every Sunday night. She NEVER liked sports, it was such a strange thing that my mother loved the Hawks, but off she would go, leaving me happily alone to watch 21 Jumpstreet all by myself. She always said she loved how their hair would curl from under their helmets.

Back then, the hockey fans loved hockey, but Chicago didn’t love hockey, we loved basketball. We loved the 1985 Bears, we loved the teams that were winning then.

This love of hockey is relatively new. It’s a newer passion for us, and so maybe yes, the girls in their cute Blackhawks jerseys in Wrigleyville have no idea whose name is on the back of their jersey. There are bros who just crave another reason to drink and party and then there are those of us, and I think we are many, those of us who are excited for the city, excited for the party, excited for this city to WIN.

For me this little numbers fact totally nails it – I’ve been telling this story up and down State Street: When the LA Kings won the cup in 2014, their parade had 250,000 people. When Chicago won in 2013 THERE WERE TWO MILLION PEOPLE AT THE PARADE. Now, I don’t believe all of those people LOVE hockey like hockey-lovers love hockey, what Chicago loves, what Chicago is good at? Is support.

We’ll support you all over the place. I talk about this on the Second City tour, we’re made for support, in comedy, in sports, in art, in fire festivals. We can fail here and still succeed. This city is built on failure and experimentation. We are so good at falling and we’re so good at supporting each other when we do. So when we win?  The support is just so ridiculously awesome.

What touches me so much about this win is just how much we all wanted it. Every day, Blackhawk t-shirts everywhere with our full-of-pride Chicago flag built right in. Banners, pizzas, cookies, the Art Institute lions (why didn’t the Picasso this time around? WHAT IS WRONG WITH THE PICASSO THAT IT IS NOT SUPPORTING?), we all got into it, my whole city. Does it matter why? Does it matter if it’s true or pure or is it more important that we’re here, that we care and that we’ll support better than anyone?

This city and it’s people impress and amaze me all the time. You, me, we made this happen. By sheer will this city and those amazing men with their cute hair made this happen. We all did. And now all of us will celebrate and bask in the glory of the win and of our support of the win. No one does it better than we do. No one.

Hawks.

 

(photo courtesy of ABC7)

 

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The NEW Chicago Riverwalk (Tour)

I’m so silly, I get my schedule all worked out for summer – I pore over calendars to figure out which tour would work best at which time – make sure that each tour is represented – make sure the IDEAL time is set for that tour, and then, as soon as I do it and send out listings and press releases and calendars of information, I change it.

But this is what happens and this is why my improviser mind serves me well as a tour guide,  because see, I’ll just CHANGE IT. Because I can do that. Because it’s my company and because sometimes, a tour idea just lays itself on a platter and I have to pick it up and eat it, because I’m hungry, I’m tour hungry.

So! I added The Riverwalk Tour back into rotation! I did this tour a few years ago, I called it “The Who Needs a Boat? Tour” and it was a walk along the river (not down by it, because well, it used to smell like pee honestly and you couldn’t walk by the river because the riverwalk kept making you go up stairs all the time and really, it just was not pleasant). It was a pretty tour, but it just, it lacked magic. And I need magic if I’m going to eat tours.

Well now, with the new Chicago Riverwalk, I’m stuffing my face again! I walked it’s span last week and I was absolutely giddy – I was laughing to myself, smiling, pointing things out to no one. People were lounging by the river, LOUNGING, seriously, that is just not something we do by the river. Kids were running, office workers sunning, bikers biking and everyone was taking photos.

And as I kept walking, no stairs in sight, I found myself almost at the lake, almost to Navy Pier and I turned to see the PRETTIEST view in Chicago. Not an overstatement. I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t hold it in. I ran home and put the New NEW Riverwalk Tour into the computer and that was that.

This is going to be a really pretty tour, a really educational tour, a funny tour and it will provide you the best photo you have ever taken. Seriously. Can’t miss.

I can’t promise I’m not going to up and change the schedule next week when another idea hits, but Chicago is killing it so hard lately – it’s like Chinese food – as soon as I eat, I’m hungry again.

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FezGuide

Why Traveling Makes Me a Better Tour Guide

Below is a repost from Lost and Found Travel – follow our travels in China if you like! And it should provide a bit of an explanation of why there are no tours in March!

“Wow! A month? In China? You must have some kind of job that you can take a month off to travel to China. You’re so lucky.”

Yes, I suppose I am. I do have the best job ever in the world. I’m the proud owner and sole (and soul) tour guide for Chicago Elevated. Part of starting my own business was that I had the ability to take a month off to go to China. It’s important to me to travel. It’s a priority. And honestly, Chicago in March? Not too much going on, it’s a good time to go.

And leaving my business for a month is not easy because I am passionate about my work. I love Chicago Elevated and I’m good at my job. I am a good tour guide, I count on it, I pride myself on it. I am a really good tour guide.

Partly because I travel see.

I know in my heart, and more importantly in the pit of my stomach, how it feels to be in a new place where nothing makes sense. I know the confusion, how hard it is to find your way around, how everything that was familiar to you in your life is now switched up and moved around. It’s really shaky and hard to deal with when I get all turned around like that.

I know how it feels to get tired and not want to listen anymore. I know how it feels to be scared and un-trusting. I know taking a city bus can be the single most confusing thing I’ve ever had to do. And I know being with a confident and awesome guide can make me feel safe and protected and special.

I’ve had great tour guides, like the only lady tour guide in Fez, Morocco, tough as nails that one. There was Gabar in India, who just picked us up off the street (which you’re really not supposed to do) but we ended up spending the whole day with him, eating and walking and laughing. And I’ve had some not so great tours. At Angkor Wat in Cambodia I heard over and over and OVER about the “milk of life.” There have been lots of guides with no passion at all or guides who did nothing but give me the party line.

And when I get home and back to work, it helps me to explain myself better. I know a little humor can go a long way in breaking up tough information. I know people need to see my personality, especially if English is their second language. I know taking the city train is no small feat and I will go to great lengths to make sure you understand completely and never talk down to you. Most importantly, I know one tour guide can split a city wide open and get to it’s heart with just a few words and a smile.

I’m going to China for all kinds of reasons, some that aren’t even fully formed in my brain yet. But one thing I do know, when I get back I’ll be a better tour guide than I am now. That I can promise.

 

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