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Geoffrey Baer

Geoffrey Baer

Chicago architecture and Windy City history will be in the spotlight tonight during the premiere of "The Chicago River Tour with Geoffrey Baer," on WTTW-channel 11.

When asked how long his latest TV show has been in the works, Baer said, "All my life in a sense. That's a true answer."

The television host/actor/producer, who's long had an interest in architecture and history, debuted his first river tour in 1995 on WTTW.

"This is the third time we're doing a documentary about the Chicago River," Baer said. "The river is why Chicago is here at all...It's so central to all of our lives."

The host said this time he's approaching the show much differently as well.

"It's a more emotional show (for me) because I've had a deep connection to the Chicago River going back to childhood," he said.

In the special, Baer goes to his childhood home, which is located at one of the branches of the river. He said he remembered a creek near his house and later found out that creek was indeed a fork of the north branch of the Chicago River.

Baer, who played around the area of that creek when he was 11 years old, later cemented his interest in architecture as a docent for The Chicago Architecture Foundation.

The TV host called the Chicago River "awe-inspiring" with views that are dramatic. While an actual tour of the river is a striking experience of its own, Baer said the television special offers some different views.

"The nice thing about television is we can do things on television that make it a very different experience than what you get on a boat," Baer said.

In the show, viewers will watch as Baer explores the river in six different vessels. He'll talk about the new Riverwalk, new neighborhoods that have sprung up along the river and explore the Sanitary and Ship Canal.

Baer also will tell stories about the history of the river and talk about Jean Baptiste Point du Sable, who was Chicago's first resident.

In addition to the show, there will be a new website which corresponds to the special. If viewers visit, they can take a virtual tour of the waterway, see an animated segment which talks about the reversal of the river, view drone footage and other images.

FYI:"The Chicago River Tour with Geoffrey Baer" will debut at 7:30 p.m. tonight. It will be rebroadcast on Dec. 2, 7 and 10.


Entertainment Editor/Features Reporter

Eloise is A&E Editor and a food, entertainment and features writer for The Times, subjects she has covered for over two decades in and around the Region. She was the youngest of eight in a Chicago household filled with fantastic cooks and artists.