Study Guide for Certified Tour Guide Test

In order to be successful when taking the CTPA Certified Tour Guide test, the applicant should be able to discuss and give accurate, interesting commentary about the following topics.

History/Major Events: Dates, people and events - Native Americans who lived here, who "discovered" and developed Chicago, Fort Dearborn, Chicago Fire, Iroquois Theater Fire, Eastland Disaster, World Fairs (names, dates, principal attractions), Great Chicago Flood, Hull House & Jane Adams, meat packing, grain market. Origin of Chicago name, nicknames, the Loop-when and how got these names, Coughlin/Kenna and the Levee District, Haymarket Riot, Pullman Town and strike, Burnham Plan, Captain Streeter & Streeterville.

Chicago Flag

Chicago Flag
(Photo credit: Donna Primas CTG)

Gangsters: Al Capone, Hymie Weiss, Elliot Ness, John Dillinger, Untouchables, St. Valentine's Day Massacre, why gangsters became powerful, prohibition, roaring 20's, Al Capone's Headquarters location, etc.

City, County, State & Federal Government/Politics: The Democratic and Republican political parties in Chicago, current Mayor's name, where his office is, where city council meets, what goes on in State of Illinois & Federal buildings, colorful mayors from history, the two mayors Daley, 1st female mayor, Harold Washington, Wards of Chicago, number of Alderman, Governor Jim Thompson, current Illinois governor's name and political affiliation. City flag. State flag. State capital. City motto.

Museums: All major and centrally located museums; Art Institute, Adler Planetarium, Museum of Science and Industry, Field Museum of Natural History, Shedd Aquarium/Oceanarium, DuSable Museum, Peggy Notebaert Museum, Chicago History Museum, Children's Museum, Contemporary Art Museum, Terra Museum, what is seen in each-major exhibits, most important works, when buildings built, etc.

Sociology: Census population statistics for city, metro and state; mix of people in Chicago, languages spoken, population breakdown (ethnicity, religions, politics, etc.), immigration "waves" impact on the city's population, "city of neighborhoods" (number of designated neighborhoods, where located), development of and changes to the ethnic neighborhoods closest to Loop (Chinatown, Greektown, Pilsen). Names of major colleges and universities, school populations, major college departments, collegiate sports teams, approx. tuition costs at several local universities. Attributes of the Chicago accent. Key poets, authors and literary notables, who were born in Chicago, have written about Chicago (past or present), or placed the action of novels in Chicago settings. Cost of living, average salary and housing for city and state of IL. The federal poverty level, Section 8 public housing information.

Television/Films: Films and TV shows shot in Chicago and the buildings/locales associated with major "blockbuster" films-Hilton, State of Illinois, Smurfit-Stone (diamond shaped) Building, Wacker Drive, Dearborn & State Street parades, Michigan Avenue, Water Tower Place. Oprah's (Harpo) Studio; NBC, CBS and WGN studios; Essanay Studios. Gene Siskel and Robert Ebert. Actors from the Chicago area, those who graduated from Northwestern.

Economics & Financial Markets: Board of Trade, Mercantile Exchange, Chicago Stock Exchange: locations, origins and what happens at each. LaSalle Street. Meat packing industry. Most important industries in current Chicago economy.

Roads/Transportation: Names & numbers of major routes into and out of the city, major suburban roadway names and numbers, what it costs to ride a bus, subway or elevated train, why it's called the 'El', when the elevated trains were built & why, colors and names of mass transit lines, major street names: how they got them, who/what named for, heavy traffic times, highway express lane use, Chicago's "diagonal" streets and their significance.

The River, Lake, Parks & Attractions: Chicago River (color, flow, reversing of), Great Lakes and Lake Michigan (size, depth, borders, salty?, types of fish in lake, recreational use, cruises open to public), Lincoln Park, Grant Park, Hyde Park, Jackson Park, Garfield Park, Chicago's harbors & marinas-who named for, where located, which is biggest. Carriage rides-cost? Major sculpture works in park areas. Millennium Park: features, architects, symbolism, donors, etc.

Buildings/Architecture: Height of tallest buildings; names & relative sizes of US/world's tallest buildings; years built. Architects & style of the city's most significant buildings (not limited to, but including): UBS Building, Thompson and Ogilvie Centers, Art Institute, Cultural Center, Museums, Willis Tower, Lake Point Tower, Macy's (Marshall Field's), Carson Pirie Scott & Co., Washington Library, Sun Times, Palmer House, Marina City, Wrigley Building, Tribune Tower, Merchandise Mart, John Hancock, Aon, Monadnock, Water Tower. Summary bios and quotes of famous Chicago Architects, train stations. Convention Center: name & biggest shows there. Airport names, architect of airports, airport parking, customs & immigration procedures at airport, which airlines are in which terminals. Major hotel locations and all legal group loading areas. Green rooftops and LEED Certified "green" buildings.

Outdoor Sculpture: Along Dearborn, by Cultural Center & Harold Washington Library, in all major parks (Millennium Park, Grant Park, Lincoln Park, etc.), on Astor Street, by Art Institute, at Congress & Michigan, by Thompson Center, by Macy's/Marshall Fields, by Smurfit-Stone building, near Daley Center, by Fire Academy, on U. of Chicago and U. of IL campus.

Celebrities/Sports: names of pro and semi-pro baseball, soccer, hockey, basketball and football teams. Names of stadiums, where teams play and their locations, when was the last time each team won or participated in a major playoff, World Cup soccer in Chicago. What is the BIlly Goat Curse. Stars/players who own bars, restaurants, etc. Oprah store & trivia.

Music, Theater, Nightlife and Dining: Major areas associated with these activities, location of most often asked for restaurants (brew pubs, Hard Rock, Rain Forest Cafe, etc.), live music clubs, Jazz or Blue clubs-names of famous ones or ones in and near the downtown area. Biggest theaters in Chicago-approx. number of seats in each, architecture and history. Longest running play. Film Festival, Theater Festival, concerts at Grant Park, Millennium Park, Orchestra Hall, Opera House, Schubert, Goodman, Auditorium, Chicago Theater, Aire Crown, Ford, Cadillac, Ravinia, etc. Father of Gospel music.