History is Hott tour inspires kids to have a passion for Chicago's past

The lobby at the Palmer House Hilton.
 
 

By Linda Marsicano

If you're looking to kick-start your child's interest in history, look no further than the History is Hott Tour at the storied Palmer House Hilton. Led by the charismatic and wildly entertaining director of public relations, Ken Price, the session is steeped in Chicago's history. Price gears the sessions to the audience, including children (ages 10 and up would most appreciate the tour) with humorous back-and-forth.

From a fascinating tutorial about the Great Chicago Fire, which burned down the Palmer House just days after it first opened in 1871, to the personalities and players of early industry in the city, the tales told during the tour speak to the very heart of how Chicago was built-and rebuilt-to become the thriving metropolis it is today.

Close to Price's heart is the legend of Bertha Palmer, Potter Palmer's beloved wife, for whom the Palmer House was built. A college-educated woman ahead of her time, she was a tireless advocate for women's rights, a generous philanthropist, a fixture on the Chicago social scene and a savvy investor, doubling her inheritance after Palmer's death with her financial prowess.

And there is no better storyteller than an animated Price, who delights in recounting anecdotes about notable events like the World's Fair held in Chicago in 1893. Bertha Palmer oversaw the fair's infamous Women's Building, picking a female architect-a rarity in the 19th century-to oversee its construction.

If the captivating tales of the stars who've performed in the opulent Empire Room (Judy Garland, Frank Sinatra and Louis Armstrong, to name just a few) aren't enough to impress the kids, this might: the first chocolate brownie was created in the Palmer House Hilton kitchen, a century-old recipe that tastes just as scrumptious today.

 
 





 
 
 
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