Urban Exploration Club Explores Chicago

By Angie Barnas

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Urban Exploration Club at the Garfield Conservatory. Photo courtesy of Barbara Wismer

Do you ever want to travel and explore the Windy City? The Urban Exploration Club travels all around the Chicago-land area. They’ve been to many unique neighborhoods such as Chinatown, Greektown, Wicker Park, Garfield Park, Pilsen, Loop/Downtown, and more.

The club doesn’t drive to any of there destinations, they take public transportation like the Skokie Swift, The El, and for closer destinations, the members of the club choose to walk to explore different sites.

“The goal of this club is to show the club members something they had no idea existed only 20 or 30 minutes away from their house,” said junior Jack Thornton,  the president of the club.

The club recently traveled to the Mexican Fine Arts museum and the Christkindlmarket at the Daley Center. They also visit different cultural restaurants around the city, like Quartino Ristorante. When visiting the restaurants, the members usually split their meals with each other, so everyone can get a taste of a variety of food. The club tries to stick with a cultural theme for every trip they go on.

So far this year, the club has only gone on two trips since their trips takes a while to plan out. Thornton plans the train rides and picks out a variety of restaurants that the members can choose from. Each member usually pays $6 for the train ride and brings extra money to spend on food, activities, souvenirs, etc.

The trips are typically planned on a Saturdays so the members can have all day to tour the neighborhood they travel to. The club meets at the Skokie Swift and they take the El into the city. They usually meet between 11:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. and they return to the Skokie Swift between 5:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. depending on when the trains are running.

Sponsors Barbara Wismer (Art Teacher) and Jennifer Hahne (Social Worker) are both very dedicated to this club and enjoy traveling and exploring different sites with the members. The members are very fond of their sponsors who help plan the trips with  Thornton.

“Wismer and  Hahne are the two amazing sponsors, and without them, there would be no club,” said Thorton.

Wismer said she enjoys traveling with the club and learning about new things that she hasn’t already experienced in Chicago. She loves introducing new places to students that don’t even know exist near their homes. The members of the club find it very interesting to be able to learn about areas that are just a couple minutes away from their home and have a chance to taste and learn about the different types of multicultural food.

 “Many students have never been to some of these neighborhoods in the city and it’s great to introduce them to all the hidden gems that are just a short train ride away,” said Wismer.

Wismer explained how the club is a great experience for students who want to learn about the Windy City, sample new food, make new friends, and learn how to navigate the CTA train system.

This club has been running for three years with 30 members. Every meeting there are different students coming and wanting to travel and experience the city.  Urban Exploration Club has been very succesful and new members have been joining every week.

“I love the city of Chicago and even though I feel like I’ve explored most of it by now, I learn or see something new on every trip,” said Wismer.

Hahne and Wismer are in the process of planning a new trip for the club. Both enjoy learning and experiencing new attractions in the Windy City, while introducing new places to the members.

Urban Exploration Club meets on Thursday at 3:30 pm in room 1730.

Milana Pehar contributed to this article.