American Sightseeing Tours
Chicago Gray Line
Owned & Operated by the Henry Ferrone family for 104 Years


Palmer House Hotel
17 East Monroe St

Operating as:

American Sightseeing Tours Chicago

Chicago Gray Line

Company History

As the originator of sightseeing and shuttle bus systems in Chicago, Chicago Sightseeing Company is tantamount with Chicago travel and tourism. The Ferrone family have been pioneers in Chicago's sightseeing industry since the summer of 1907, when Henry Ferrone founded American Sightseeing Association, he also played a significant role in pioneering Chicago's sightseeing industry and was the driving force in establishing quality bus tours for the traveling public.
Henry Ferrone was a enterprising young teenager when he opened and operated the very first (out-of-town newspapers) at "Henry's Newsstand" as this teen-age entrepreneur sold newspapers at his newsstand located at the Great Northern Hotel in Chicago. The street smart entrepreneur became determined that he could run things with mo0re class and garner more profit given the right opportunity. The opportunity came along in 1919 when Henry, who had recently returned from service in World War I, purchased the majority stock in Chicago Sightseeing, eventually incorporating it as Chicago Sightseeing Company. Henry struggled to expand his new company, acquiring all the stock in 1928.. His difficulties continued until 1933 when the famous Century of Progress Exposition World's Fair came to Chicago. Not only did Henry's business shuttle visitors back and forth to the fairgrounds, its tours introduced them to Chicago's natural and architectural wonders. The boom in business allowed Henry to purchase additional equipment and to enhance his operations.
During the outbreak of World War II, when it was declared that fuel would no longer be available for luxury-type bus services, Henry was undeterred by these restrictions. Henry, who was now the operator of one of the nation's leading tour services, obtained government contracts that would allow him to transport employees of local defense plants to and from work using thirty school-type buses operating around the clock. This was not Henry's first effort supporting the war effort, Henry was awarded the Purple Heart after being wounded in World War I where he served in the famous 42nd Rainbow Division and the Fighting 69th Infantry Regiment. Henry proudly served his Country again, fulfilling the contracts until the war ended in 1945.
Henry Ferrone, Pioneer and Founder (1889 - 1955)
Fannie Trimarco Ferrone, loving wife and devoted supporter  (1896 - 1981)
After the death of Henry Ferrone, in 1955, his sons Donald and Francis carried on the family business and have, till this day, managed and operated American Sightseeing Tours Chicago and Chicago Gray Line. The growth of the trade show industry in Chicago opened up another travel market and the Ferrone brothers were quick to jump on the new opportunity.

From 1963 through the 1980's, American Sightseeing controlled the majority of Chicago's trade show shuttle bus contracts to carry the carry the show's attendees between their hotel and the show's venue. Some of these shows included the largest and most prestigious shows held in Chicago such as the Chicago Dental Expo, The Auto Show, the International Plastics Expo, the National Restaurant Show, the International Machine Tool Show, the Packaging Machinery Show, Consumer Electronics Show and the 1975 CONEXPO Show, which drew over 140,000 registered attendees using 22,000 hotel rooms over a fve-day period. We have been the primary transportation company for many prominent meeting planners, corporations, convention groups, college and Universities.
In 1991, the Ferrone's acquired the Gray Line Tour franchise, which was founded in 1910, and combined their equipment to provide the ultimate in local sightseeing, tour and shuttle bus service for tourists, convention and trade shows in Chicago.
In April 1996, their O'Hare Wisconsin Limousines Service company was selected to join the Trailways National Bus System organization, having a local banner "Prairie Trailways" providing deluxe coaches for charter.

Since the death of their father, Don and Fran have continued to provide the traveling public innovative ideas for tours and transportation, always offering something new and different to their customers.
The company's current fleet of deluxe buses, trolleys and bright yellow upper-deckers, provide the finest service to Chicago's sightseers. It is this rich history that has given American Sightseeing Tours the distinct air of an "authentic" Chicago experience. Because regardless of how far the historic brand has come, (American Sightseeing, Gray Line Chicago, Prairie Trailways) whether by bus, trolley or upper-decker, the ultimate goal remains the same---to show the World all of the great reasons why the company has been proud to call Chicago its home for  102 years (1907 - 2009).

We have been inspected and received the highest possible Safety and Maintenence Rating by the Department of the Army and the Department of Defense.  This allows our company to transport military personnel and equipment. We currently transport members of the United States Army, Air Force and Illinois National Guard.

Since the death of their father, Don and Fran have continued to provide the traveling public innovative ideas for tours and transportation, always offering something new and different to their customers.
Henry Ferrone, our Pioneer and Founder...Over One-Hundred Years, Thousands of Sights and Millions of Miles...
Double click on any vehicle image to see a larger picture & details of our equipment
Owned & Operated by the Henry Ferrone family for 104 Years...