New Smartphone App Takes Meeting Attendees on Windy City Walking Tour

Because they've been to Chicago before, many meeting attendees have already seen Willis Tower, Navy Pier and Water Tower Place. But how about the restaurant where the "Sausage King of Chicago" dined in the 1986 John Hughes film Ferris Beuller's Day Off? Or Hugh Hefner's high school? Or the strip mall where President Barack Obama shared a first kiss with his wife, Michelle, in 1989?

Thanks to a GPS-based smartphone app, called "It Happened Here," visitors and locals alike — including meeting planners and attendees — can uncover Chicago's secret sites, including the locations of historical events, memorable movie scenes, famous crimes and celebrity sightings.

"It Happened Here brings a city's past to life by providing descriptions of the most interesting events that have taken place at or near a user's location," explains the app's website. "Hundreds of events are presented in list or map view by distance from your current location. Hundreds more are excluded for not being interesting enough. We don't clutter up the app with unedited user-generated content or unfiltered feeds — all events are manually researched and written by us."

Launched in 2010, It Happened Here is available in Boston, Philadelphia, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. It made its Chicago debut this month.

In addition to the above-mentioned sites, listed Chicago-area events include the former site of the Wigwam building, where Abraham Lincoln won the 1860 Republican nomination; the former high school where Principal Vernon investigated a "ruckus" in the 1985 film The Breakfast Club; the cathedral that still shows bullet holes from a 1926 shootout involving an Al Capone rival; and the pub where Matt Damon was recruited in the 2001 film Ocean's Eleven.

For more information, or to purchase the app, visit