Shoreline Sightseeing

About Shoreline Sightseeing

Our History

Explore some highlights in Shoreline's 75+ year history.

Shoreline invites you to revisit some of the milestones from our founding in 1939 right up to what's happening this year.

Read on for some fun facts and old-time photos.

How it all began:

CHICAGO, Ill. - In 1939, Uncle Jim Martin launched Shoreline Sightseeing (originally "Shoreline Marine Company"), offering Lake Michigan tours from the Shedd Aquarium for 25 cents per person.

In 1949 Jim sold the speedboats and purchased the company’s first large touring vessel, the Blue Dog. In 1950 Jim sold Shoreline Marine to his brother George Martin, who would run the company for more than 25 years.

Growth—for the City and for Shoreline

In the coming decades, Shoreline and its passengers were witness to Chicago’s phenomenal growth. Shoreline was also growing to meet rising customer demand. The company added Shoreline to its fleet and in 1960, commissioned the Marlyn, the first of the company’s well-known red, white and blue tour boats.

In 1978, Martin sold Shoreline Marine Company to his nephew Charles Collopy. Charles’ sons, Chip and Matt, soon joined him in the business eventually becoming Shoreline's owners in 2002. In 1996, Shoreline added a fleet of water taxis and in 1999, Shoreline began its Architecture River Tours from Navy Pier, later adding a Michigan Avenue dock.

Keeping up with Chicago's growth, Shoreline added Voyageur to its fleet in 2006, Riverview in 2013 and Cityview in 2014. Shoreline also gradually updated its fleet of water taxis to feature larger, 80+ passenger taxis.


Currently Shoreline's fleet is the city's largest with 11 major touring vessels and eight water taxis. In its 75+ years of operation, Shoreline has carried generations of Chicagoans as well as passengers from just about every country in the world.

Their plan is to keep growing right along with Chicago and to keep offering the finest boat touring services in the city. The owners and crew hope you will join them soon on a Shoreline tour or cruise.