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  • Tour Obama sites in Chicago

    by Jane Ammeson | Booth News Service
    Monday January 19, 2009, 3:10 AM

    One of the crenulated towers that distinguish the Gothic architecture of the University of Chicago where president-elect Barack Obama taught constitutional law.

    CHICAGO -- You might not make it to the inauguration Tuesday, but you still can get a sense of president-elect Barack Obama by touring his hometown hangouts.

    Given the immense interest in all things Obama, it's not hard to do. The myriad options include group and individual tours, city tours and even free tours.

    I decided on a private tour with guide Marshall Jacobson, who tailors trips to individual preferences. I got his name from the Chicago Office of Tourism. Cost is $40 an hour with a three-hour minimum, no matter the group's size.

    "People can rent a car and a driver, pick me up, drive themselves or go by public transportation with me," Jacobson said, noting the latter option adds up to about four miles of walking.

    Since I grew up near Chicago and was familiar with the Loop as well as Hyde Park and Kenwood, where most of the sites are, I opted to drive.

    We were lucky that day because Obama was in Washington, D.C. When he's home, Jacobson told us, the Secret Service keeps people away from the house, which is at the intersection of Hyde Park Boulevard and Greenwood Avenue. Even when he's gone, the best you can do is view the home from the opposite corner of the boulevard.

    But if you like historic neighborhoods, Kenwood is perfect, with its broad boulevards and stately homes, some of which date back to the 1850s.

    At Valois Restaurant, we ate scrambled eggs with sausage, hash browns and toast, one of Obama's favorite meals there. Next was a stroll through the campus of the University of Chicago, where Obama taught constitutional law.

    "Those look like castles," said my daughter's friend about the Gothic style buildings topped with crenulated towers. We also drove past the South Shore Cultural Center, built in 1904, where the Obamas hosted their wedding reception.

    The Chicago Office of Tourism, (877) CHICAGO, expects to have other Obama tours listed on its Web site, explorechicago.org, this week. For the Marshall Jacobson tour, call (773) 575-3176, or go to toursruschicago.com/tourguide.html.

    The Chicago Greeter program, through the Chicago Office of Tourism, offers free tours. Go online to chicagogreeter.com.

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