Review: The Untouchables Gangster Tour, Chicago

The Untouchable’s “Gangster Tour of Chicago” is a quirky 2-hour “live action” tour offering visitors an amusing take on the city’s Prohibition-era history and the gangsters that animated it. With costumed tour-guide-actors and a bit of cheesy comedy, the experience can be enjoyable — and you may even learn a thing or two…

This tour is not, by any means, a serious historical lecture on the mafia or gangland Chicago. Rather it is a light-hearted, tongue-in-cheek look at the mob, that pokes some fun at the past and at the popular imagery. A team of tour-guide-actors, with names like “Southside” and “Ice Pick,” take you on a drive around the city in a converted school bus, pointing out the places where key events of the period played out. Remaining “in-character” for the length of the tour, the guides take turns telling the story, giving a basic outline of how the city was divided up between the competing gangs who ran the speakeasies and other criminal enterprises of the day. A scratchy soundtrack plays in the background, and there are sound effects — remember to duck when you hear the machine guns.

The Untouchables crew does a great job of replacing “sight-seeing” with ambiance, as they recount the highlights of the gangster days. It’s a good idea, too, because there aren’t very many actual “sites” left to “see” in the sense that many of the buildings have been torn down — so no “everybody off the bus to take a picture” moments (which is a positive in my view). “The Boys” take you to several key locations, like the Holy Name cathedral where Dion O’Bannion was gunned down (bullet hole still in the wall), the site of the St. Valentines Day Massacre on North Clark Street (the garage is gone), and the Biograph Theatre where John Dillinger was betrayed by The Lady in Red (you can still go to the movies there). Even without much physical evidence of the past, you get a sense of the South Side (Capone’s territory) and you also get to see parts of Chicago most tourists miss, as well as Chinatown, Little Italy and Maxwell Street, home of the Chicago Blues.

It’s entertaining and silly with plenty of low-brow comedy and attempts to involve participants in the “experience” (in this sense, you will get out of it, what you put in… so if you are overly self-conscious or afraid to appear a bit ridiculous this is not the tour for you, but if you’re willing to play along you will laugh out loud). Definitely not “politically correct,” the “Gangster Tour” is a welcome change from the overly serious, and it gives you an excellent overview of the geography of the city beyond the standard touristic sites.


Details: THE UNTOUCHABLES CHICAGO GANGSTER TOUR(website) Call To Reserve: 773-881-1195 • Departure: from the 600 block of N. Clark Street (Clark St. and Ohio Ave.) on Clark St. in front of the Rock n Roll McDonalds. (2 hour live action tour): Experience Chicago as it was during the 1920s and 30s! See the old gangster hot spots and hit spots! Hear historically accurate accounts of the exploits of Capone, Moran, Dillinger and the rest a da boys! Feel the excitement of jazz-age Chicago during the era of Prohibition! Enjoy a journey into the past as we cruise the city in search of the old hoodlum haunts, brothels, gambling dens and sites of gangland shootouts!

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