Author Archives: Anthony Stamilio

Chicago’s Historic Gardeners

The Chicago Flower and Garden Show has been ushering in Spring in Chicago since 1847–ten years before the city was incorporated. This year, as we celebrate it’s 170th birthday, lets take a look at how gardening has made elegant an otherwise industrial city.

The Gardener Mayor

Chicago’s first mayor in 1837, founder of the Chicago Board of Trade, and President of the Union Pacific Railroad, William Ogden, may be known more for black soot and railroad ties. However, he was one of the early prominent Chicagoans to take advantage of the fresh Lake Michigan water and keep a private garden on his property that spanned multiple city blocks. Ogden used his vast wealth to build a Greek Revival style home where he entertained politicians like Martin Van Buren and Steven A. Douglas. They would stroll both indoors among the flowers of his glass enclosed greenhouse and outdoors through his roses, dogwoods, and wild vines. In his home, he housed an Austrian-born gardener along with his personal secretary, coachman, and five domestic servants.

A shrewd and ruthless businessman, Ogden had a soft spot for gardening.

When the great fire of 1871 burned his home and every building in downtown Chicago, Ogden said, “Never before was a large and very beautiful and fortunate City built by [a] generation of people so proud, so in love with their work, never a City so lamented and grieved over as Chicago.”

Worlds Columbian Exhibition

Chicago twice founded a Chicago Horticultural Society. The first one was started in 1847 by William Ogden with the son of one of the city’s first American citizens, John Kinzie, as its president. Then it was re-founded in 1890 and hosted the World’s Columbian Exposition Chrysanthemum Show of 1893. Taking advantage of the international attention Chicago was garnering from hosting the World’s Fair, the show was a hit. However, like the two Worlds Fairs that Chicago hosted, the Chrysanthemum show was followed by international depression and turmoil. The Chicago Horticultural Society didn’t recover until 1943.

1892 at the Regiment Armory

The Worlds Fair of 1893 itself was a gorgeous display of flora the likes of which the world had never seen. The Horticultural building–designed by the inventor of the skyscraper, William LeBaron Jenney–covered more than 4 acres of the fair grounds and 8 different greenhouses and the various state buildings brought their own native flowers and fruits. The Midwest exhibit had a building made from corn-on-the-cob and Missouri created the St. Louis Bridge entirely out of sugar cane.

A Century of Gardening

Over the last hundred years, Chicago has been growing its gardens indoors and out. In 1908, the Garfield Park Conservatory was constructed, the Chicago Botanical Gardens broke ground in 1965, and Chicago’s Park District has followed suit with a multitude of public gardens and green spaces. Just last year, Northerly Island reopened as a natural prairie space that takes you back three hundred years to the untouched natural landscape of Chicago’s past.

Garfield Park Conservatory covers 4.5 acres of land.

So when you stroll through more than twenty indoor gardens at Navy Pier this weekend, take a moment to stop, look around, and smell your place in the lineage of gardening enthusiasts in Chicago.




International Home + Housewares Show 2017’s Amazing App

If you’re in town for the IH + HS 2017, you must download the show’s useful app. It has all the information you are going to need about the exhibitors and events.

It’s really helpful.

Wanna know when famed New Orleans Chef Emeril Lagasse is going to make an appearance? Just check the Event + Exhibits section or search for his name. Want plan your route through the exhibit? Just click the star next to your most desired booths on the Exhibitors section, and it will save you time searching them out. Want to know where the heck McCormick Place is and how the heck you can get in and out of there? Just check the transportation section for the free buses and the many other cheap options you have to make it to and from your hotel.

It’s pretty.

You would hope that a show with a focus on form and function would make their app useful and pretty. Well, they did. There aren’t a billion bells and whistles. It just gives you the information you need in an easily digestible package.

It’s small.

It takes up like 20 MG which is less than the ten thousand baby photos you took over Christmas. You can download it here.

It’ll get you 10% off on a Segway Tour.

If you show us this app or any proof that you are at the International Home + Housewares Show this weekend, Absolutely Chicago Segway Tours will give you 10% off on your tour. Check out Choose Chicago for more things to do while you are in town, and enjoy your time in the windy city.




Are Segways Difficult to Ride?

“Is it hard to ride that thing?”

We get this question daly at Absolutely Chicago Segway Tours so I decided to take a second to address it in detail. It is not a dumb question. If I had to give a short answer, I would say, “No!” but let me explain why.


The average training time for a new rider on a Segway is 3 minutes. Can you learn to drive in 3 minutes? Can you learn to ride a bike in 3 minutes? No way!

Our training session takes about 25 minutes in total with a full group of 8 Segway riders. That means each trainee has about 3.125 of time to learn to master this machine until they hit the streets of Chicago. Some take a bit longer than others, but on the whole, training doesn’t take any longer than 25 minutes. There must be something easy about the machine right?

The training itself consists of a video followed by a live presentation and individual hands on training. Our guides do not allow anyone to escape their grasp until they are confident in their ability. The positive attitude of the guide is their most powerful weapon. They wield it with great authority–striking down the fears of their trainee. The Segway is scary, and they no it, but they have seen this fear before. They know that if the customer powers through, they will achieve.

Imagine being a Segway tour guide and knowing that you have the ability to teach anyone in the world how to do something new in just 3 minutes. It really goes to their heads!

Can anyone not get it?

If you don’t want to, you don’t have to do anything. Of the hundreds of thousands of people that Absolutely Chicago Segway Tours has taught to ride a Segway, a handful have failed. They all have one thing in common: they didn’t want to do it! Their family or friend forced them to go try that weird machine in the park, and their body knew what their mind did. They didn’t wanna be there.

This is totally cool. All we ask is that you try. We care about every customers experience. We thrive off of their joy.

So you’re saying anyone can ride a Segway?

I really am. We have had customers from 12 to 100 (If you are over 100 and want to ride a Segway, we will give you a crazy discount). Folks with differing heights and weights, differing abilities, and differing backgrounds all found the Segway safe and fun. I have personally taught a paraplegic with one prosthetic leg, multiple people with various stages of MS, and even people with bad attitudes! I do not believe in a failed Segway rider, and neither should you.

Please take the time to believe in yourself and your own abilities. Absolutely Chicago Segway Tours has experience to prove that you can learn to ride a Segway in just 3 minutes.


I Found Pandas

I normally don’t do this kind of hack work on this blog. We try to keep things serious. We’re serious about safety, Segways, and our fair city, Chicago, but I came across iPanda video today on facebook. I just can’t help myself.

#MoodBooster–Nanny, play with me, no working!–Baby, just a minute.–hmmm, I will stop you with my cuteness!

Posted by iPanda on Wednesday, February 22, 2017


Ride a Segway or something.

Valentines Day Weekend

Lovebirds! Soar through the snowless streets with glee.

The winter months drag on so somberly,

But sultry joy will prop your will to play,

Four feet, four wheels, two hearts on two Segways.

A tour, a glance, a glide, a concrete skate,

The cold cant catch the warmth of your two fates.

For on this winter night in spades you’ll find,

The burning flame of Segway Valentine.





Does anything bother you Santa?


That’s what I asked Santa today. His short answer was “No, I’m pure joy.” I thought that was pretty concise, but I prodded a bit more.

I asked Santa if he found anything annoying. His brow creased as he searched his heart. He really struggled to find an answer to satisfy my question. Santa was stumped.

Perhaps the ‘spirit of Christmas personified’ doesn’t get annoyed, but we at Absolutely Chicago Segway Tours sure do. We’re annoyed by waiting lines. Grocery store lines and roller coaster lines drive us crazy!  That’s why we’ve designed this amazing Santa Experience so that you can avoid the things that annoy you. We can’t always be perfect like Santa.

Sounds of the Season

Our good pals at Olivet Nazarene University are putting together a traditional Christmas concert on Friday. Seasonal tunes will be performed by both the staff and students of their wonderful musical department. Our buddy Santa will be there, and I hear a Segway may even make an appearance.


If you’d like to check it out, the show will start at 7pm on Friday, December 9th and 2pm on Saturday, December 10th at the Olivet Centennial Chapel in Bourbonnais, Illinois. Check out their website for more details, and if you can’t make it out to the Olivet Campus, it will be live streamed!

This is the kind of local event we really enjoy at Absolutely Chicago Segway Tours. They really help usher in the spirit of this season. Our Holiday Lights Segway Tour captures these kind of genuine Christmas events. It will also be running every night this weekend at 6pm.