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AAG Field Trips 2015

Explore the rich physical and cultural geography of Chicago, Illinois and the Great Lakes Region through informative field trips led by geographers or other experts. Field trips are also an excellent way to meet and exchange ideas with colleagues and friends. 

To purchase a field trip, please click on the link below. You will find field trip options by scrolling to the bottom of the page and clicking the arrow next to the appropriate date. 

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#0-1 Ethnic Change Along Chicago's Milwaukee Avenue
Monday, April 20, 8:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.
Organizer: John Kostelnick (Illinois State University)
Trip Capacity: 14
Cost/person: $26 (includes admission to museum and transportation – lunch will be on your own)

This field trip will explore ethnic change in the Logan Square and Avondale neighborhoods in Chicago along a two-mile stretch of Milwaukee Avenue. Over the past few decades, 100-year old Polish neighborhoods along the Avenue have been gradually transformed by in-migrants from Latin American countries and out-migration of Polish neighborhood residents to the surrounding suburbs. Today, Milwaukee Avenue is dotted with a mix of both Polish and Latino businesses and cultural institutions. The purpose of this field trip is to trace ethnic change along the Avenue over the past 100 years and to understand the dynamics of life in these diverse neighborhoods today. In addition to ethnic change, the field trip will also touch on topics related to suburbanization and gentrification as they relate to Milwaukee Avenue. The field trip will conclude with lunch at an award-winning Polish restaurant in one of the neighborhoods.


#1-1 Behind the Scenes at the Art Institute of Chicago
Tuesday, April 21, 9:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
Organizer: Lucy Stanfield (US Environmental Protection Agency)
Trip Capacity: 20
Cost/person: $35 (admission to the Art Institute)

Recently voted #1 museum in the world by Trip Advisor, the Art Institute of Chicago anchors the city’s world class museum community with its Modern and American Art and French Impressionist collections. Join us for an exciting behind-the-scenes tour of the Conservation Department with Executive Director of Conservation Frank Zuccari and Assistant Research Conservator Kim Muir. They will highlight the examination and imaging tools used by conservators to study artist's materials and techniques and current conservation treatments being carried out in the paintings conservation studio. Discover how science and art intersect as you also see the state-of-the-art conservation lab. Immediately following will be a guided tour of the Modern Wing, built in 2009, filled with the museum’s modern and contemporary collections. Whether you’re a fan of O’Keefe, Toulouse-Lautrec, Matisse, Picasso, or Kandinsky, this tour will draw you into the wonderful world of art and the staff who study and preserve it just steps from the AAG meeting this year.

*Tour participants will meet at the Hyatt Regency lobby and walk to the Art Institute Monroe Street Dock Entrance to start the tour promptly at 10:00am. Participants are encouraged to not bring backpacks or large items, but small personal bags are fine. Following the tours, participants can seek lunch on their own at the Museum Café or Terzo Piano or walk back to the Hyatt. Tour participants with special needs (wheelchair use, sign language), please contact the AAG.*

#1-2 Chicago's Geographic Origins Along the River
Tuesday, April 21, 2:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Organizer: Dennis McClendon (Chicago CartoGraphics)
Trip Capacity: 27
Cost/person: $19

New office buildings and hotels along the Main Stem of the Chicago River have all but obscured the modest stream's importance to the early city and the transportation patterns of North America. This walking tour will look at the artifacts that remain of port facilities, railroad terminals, and industrial and warehouse buildings. We'll also study the mix of drawbridges, L trains, and skyscrapers that give modern Chicago its character, and see the new tourist infrastructure that's again making the river an economic asset.

#1-3 Chicago's "Edge Cities:" An Evolving Urban Fringe
Tuesday, April 21, 8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Organizer: Richard Greene (Northern Illinois University)
Trip Capacity: 35
Cost/person: $43 (includes transportation. NOTE for attendees: please bring money to buy lunch)

“Edge City,” a term coined by Joel Garreau, signifies the profound changes taking place on the edges of large urban areas. Edge cities are suburban employment centers and the result of the population and economic redistribution trends that have characterized American metropolitan areas since the 1950s. The Chicago metropolitan region has been especially affected by these redistribution trends. In the first and second editions of this field trip (AAG annual meetings 1995 and 2006), I stated that the Northeastern Illinois Planning Commission (NIPC contemporary CMAP) had reported that the region's population between 1970 and 1990 grew by a modest 4.1 percent while the amount of land area consumed had increased by 47 percent. The city of Chicago at the core of the region experienced a net loss of population during that 20 year period, while many of the outlying suburban areas underwent tremendous growth and development. Today the sprawl trends have continued, but Downtown Chicago has since rebounded and the employment and residential activity it commands has transformed the entire City of Chicago.

Edge cities visited on this trip include:
(1) Schaumburg area (including Hoffman Estates and the Woodfield Mall district near the Northwest Tollway)
(2) O'Hare Airport area
(3) Illinois Research & Development Corridor (including the area around Oak Brook, Lisle, Naperville, Aurora, and the East-West Tollway).

For comparison, the trip also visits the long-established urban centers of Aurora and Elgin (including the smaller centers of Batavia, Geneva, and St. Charles) situated along the Fox River. These employment corridors offer a unique opportunity to examine many urban fringe themes, including industrial location, ethno-burbs, retail geography, farmland conversion, and ghost subdivisions born by the 2008 financial crisis. The trip is divided into three segments starting with the East-West Tollway, continuing up the Fox Valley, and ending with the Northwest Tollway. An additional benefit of the trip is that it begins and ends in the Loop (Chicago CBD), so participants will also be exposed to the Downtown landscapes of the city on the way out of and on the way into the city. Garreau, J. 1991, Edge City: Life on the New Frontier (New York: Doubleday).


#2-1 Hyde Park and the University of Chicago
Wednesday, April 22, 12:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Organizer: Joshua Labove, Simon Fraser University
Trip Capacity: 14
Cost/person: $40 (includes bus transportation)

Once a center of influence in geography, still a community of intellectual and cultural symbolism and significance, Hyde Park is more than University-types and US Presidents. With the University of Chicago as its anchor, Hyde Park has grown to become a cradle of influential architecture (Wright, Calatrava, Saarinen, Cobb, and van der Rohe among others), balancing an increasingly international university with the needs of a residential community of over 25,000. On this trip, we'll explore this neighborhood on the mid-South Side and learn more about the history of the people, places, and institutions that make this area 7 miles South of the Loop so unique within cities and within higher education.

#2-4 Gentrification and Neighborhood Change in Pilsen
Wednesday, April 22, 2:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Organizer: Euan Hague (DePaul University)
Trip Capacity: 27
Cost/person: $5 (Note to attendees: Please bring around $5 cash for public transportation)

The Pilsen neighborhood, two miles southwest of downtown Chicago, has been the gentrification frontier in Chicago for much of the past two decades. A predominantly Mexican-American neighborhood, rapid development, condo construction and the growth of a non-Hispanic population have led to contests over the neighborhood, its heritage, architecture and future development. This half-day walking tour will examine key sites in the neighborhood, also passing its vibrant political murals and noting the neighborhoods historic Bohemian roots. The travel will be by El and approximately 1-2 miles walking.

#2-5 U.S. Cellular Field Tour
Wednesday, April 22, 10:00 a.m. - 12:15 p.m.
Organizer: Steven Ericson (University of Alabama)
Trip Capacity: 45
Cost/person: $10 (Note to attendees: Please bring around $5 cash for public transportation)
Sponsored by: Recreation, Tourism & Sport Specialty Group

U.S. Cellular Field opened in 1991 to mixed reviews from baseball fans. As the last MLB stadium built before the retro craze, the stadium has undergone a major renovations with the most recent round being completed in 2012. Field trip will visit the press box, dugout, luxury suite, and other behind-the-scene spots of the stadium. Additionally, we will see the plaque marking home plate from "old" Comiskey Park and the stadium's foul lines painted on an existing parking lot.

#2-6 Make a Labyrinth for Earth Day
Wednesday, April 22, 2:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Organizers: Lance Howard (Clemson University) and Matthew Lavoie (Chicago Labyrinths)
Trip Capacity: 35
Cost/person: $28 (includes transportation)
Sponsored by: Cultural Geography Specialty Group

Celebrate Earth Day by making a labyrinth in the sand at Montrose Beach with Matthew Lavoie of Chicago Labyrinths <>. Labyrinths (not mazes) have become popular contexts for personal therapy and discovery. Labyrinths are also recognized in geomancy as being nexuses between humans and the Earth. By impressing a labyrinth pattern on the sand and walking the path in and out we may express our gratitude and send our blessings to the Earth on this day set aside to honor “her.” Rain or shine. Dress comfortably in layers with sturdy footwear. Restrooms on site. Bottled water provided.


#3-1 Chicago's Chocolate Heritage
Thursday, April 23, 1:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Organizers: Julie Cidell (University of Illinois) and Heike Alberts (University of Wisconsin Oshkosh)
Leader: Valerie Beck (Chicago Chocolate Tours)
Trip Capacity: 20
Cost/person: $40 (includes chocolate samples)

Chicago has a long history as a production center for candy and chocolate, from large-scale manufacturing to artisanal production. Although the volume of production has declined, Chicago remains a key confectionary center, hosting the largest trade convention every year as well as employing thousands of workers. This walking field trip will tour a number of sites on the Near North Side that are part of today’s confectionary production landscape, including chocolate makers, cupcake bakers, and boutique retail locations. Samples at each stop are included in the field trip fee.

#3-2 Legacy of Burnham's Plan of Chicago
Thursday, April 23, 2:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Organizer: Dennis McClendon (Chicago CartoGraphics)
Trip Capacity: 55
Cost/person: $32 (includes transportation)

Daniel Burnham and Edward Bennett's 1909 vision for the city is still revered but the plan's actual results are often misunderstood or forgotten. This bus tour of the central city will look at the Plan's physical legacies: Navy Pier, North Michigan Avenue, Northerly Island, a straightened river, Ogden Avenue, Congress Parkway, Union Station, Wacker Drive. We'll look at projects that greatly benefited the city, at proposals that later generations reconsidered, and at heroic accomplishments that in the end meant little.

#3-3 Oak Park: Exploring an Integrated and Diverse Suburb
Thursday, April 23, 9:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.
Organizers: William Peterman and Rob Breymaier (Oak Park Regional Housing Center)
Trip Capacity: 27
Cost/person: $29 (includes transportation)
Sponsored by: Oak Park Regional Housing Center

For over 40 years, the Chicago suburb of Oak Park has intentionally promoted racial residential integration. This effort arises from community support for integration, Village policies that promote it, and the ongoing work of the Oak Park Regional Housing Center. This field trip will visit the Housing Center, Village Hall, and other relevant sites as the hosts explain how the community continues to promote integrate and avoid the segregating trends that dominate the Chicago region. Opportunities for geographical research will additionally be proposed.

#3-4 Sacred Places in Chicago
Thursday, April 23, 9:00 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.
Organizers and Leaders: Richard Dodge (Geography of Religions and Belief Systems), Ed Davis, Justin Tse, and David Butler
Trip Capacity: 26
Cost/person: $56 (includes transportation)

Visit by motor coach to four sacred places/religious sites in the Chicago area - drive by Seventeenth Church of Christ Science, brief stop at the Chicago Temple (Methodist), tour Frank Lloyd Wright Unity Temple in Oak Park, and visit the Baha'i House of Worship in Wilmette. Informative for both the religious scholar and novice. NOTES for attendees: Please bring a lunch or money to buy lunch downtown. We will be walking or strolling short distances indoors and outdoors. Because of typical Chicago weather, rain gear may become necessary.

#3-5 U.S. Wrigley Field Tour
Thursday, April 23, 10:00 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.
Organizer: Steven Ericson (University of Alabama)
Trip Capacity: 40
Cost/person: $30 (Note to attendees: Please bring around $5 cash for public transportation)
Sponsored by: Recreation, Tourism & Sport Specialty Group

Wrigley Field is a bucket list ballpark for any baseball enthusiast. Wrigley Field is an experience unmatched in baseball; in a throwback category with few ballparks that remain standing today. Wrigley Field is the second oldest major league ballpark. It opened 1914 with the name Weeghman Park and served as the home of the Chicago Whales of the Federal League. The Cubs became the primary tenant in 1916 and remain there to this day. The tour will take visitors to the press box, dugouts, clubhouses, and other parts of the stadium.


#4-2 Walking/Public Transit Tour of the Retail Gentrification Occurring on the Near North Side of Chicago
Friday, April 24, 9:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
Organizer: Lawrence Joseph (West Marine)
Trip Capacity: 27
Cost/person: $5 (Note to attendees: Please bring cash for subway fare card and lunch)
Sponsored by: Business Geography Specialty Group

Dr. Lawrence Joseph will guide a walking tour and discussion of the retail gentrification in Chicago’s Near North Side. It will involve a subway ride on the Red Line (‘L’) from the Lake Station to the North/Clybourn Station. Several lifestyle retailers have located to the Clybourn Corridor of the Lincoln Park neighborhood in recent years. As retail space became scarce for new tenants, there has been ongoing spillover of development into the adjacent Cabrini-Green neighborhood, which is transitioning from a blighted and notorious urban setting. There will also be a stop for lunch at the Lincoln Park Whole Foods.

#4-3 Inner Suburbs, Inner City: A Mosaic of Stability and Transformation in Historic Cultural Landscapes
Friday, April 24, 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Organizer: Norm Moline (Augustana College)
Trip Capacity: 45
Cost/person: $51 (Note to attendees: Please bring $10-15 cash for lunch)

Visits to some historic suburbs and neighborhoods: Riverside, designed by Olmsted in 1869, one of the nation's first suburbs; Berwyn, a 120-year old working class suburb with changing ethnic groups and many Chicago-style bungalows; Oak Park, home of Frank Lloyd Wright's Prairie architecture and a proactive approach to racial integration; Wicker Park and Old Town, neighborhoods started by Swedes and Germans, succeeded by other ethnic groups and now gentrified; Bronzeville, the historic African-American neighborhood including the former Robert Taylor Homes (once the nation's largest public housing project now replaced by mixed housing) and Fire Engine Co. 16's inspiring school-support program.

#4-4 Activism and Activists in Chicago in the 1960s
Friday, April 24, 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
Organizers: Euan Hague (DePaul University) and Michael James
Trip Capacity: 27
Cost/person: $33 (Note to attendees: Please bring $10-20 cash for lunch)

The 1960s were a dynamic time of political activism in Chicago, most famously at the 1968 Democratic Convention. This bus/walking tour will visit sites associated with Students for a Democratic Society, the Black Panthers, Jobs Or Income Now, Rising Up Angry and other local activist organizations or the era. The tour will culminate with an optional lunch at the Heartland Cafe and opportunity to speak further with Mike James, an active leader in the 1960s who participated in many of these events.