Shoreline Sightseeing Celebrates 75 Years Serving Chicago Visitors

Shoreline Sightseeing Celebrates 75 Years Serving Chicago Visitors

In 1939, Shoreline Sightseeing (originally called Shoreline Marine Company) began serving the Chicagoland area with tours of Lake Michigan, allowing travelers to share in awe-inspiring views of the Chicago skyline just as it was evolving.

Jim Martin started his new company with a few small speedboats and a plan for success. With a small fleet featuring names like Gotta Go, Sea Wolf, Sea Ghost, and Virginia, Jim and his crew began offering tours for a fee of 25 cents per person. Only 10 years later, he began selling those small boats and buying larger touring vessels, allowing longer rides to more passengers.

A New Captain at the Helm


In 1950, Jim sold the business to his brother George and watched it grow right along with the city of Chicago, which was sprouting high rises on the shoreline at breakneck speed. George grew the company by leaps and bounds over the next 25 years, adding more touring vessels, such as The Shoreline and the Marlyn, the first of the iconic red, white, and blue tour boats built to his specifications.

Passing the Torch

1978 saw more changes to the Chicago skyline, and Martin’s nephew Charles Collopy stepped in to grow the business right along with it. During his tenure, Charles added to the fleet and sought out a lease with the Navy Pier, cleverly deducing that, when finished, it would become a major attraction for visitors to Chicago – which it has.

Charles signed his first lease in 1992, and Shoreline has seen a steady stream of ships since the pier opened just three short years later. Through planning and business acumen, Charles continued to grow the fleet and the business, building it into a Chicago fixture itself.

Three Generations of Family Dedication

Now in the third generation of ownership, Shoreline Sightseeing has blossomed with Charles’ sons Chip and Matt taking the reins and driving business into the 21st Century. No longer content to simply tour the lakes, Shoreline offers specialized tours, charters, and water taxi service to the city of Chicago.

Explore the City with Shoreline Sightseeing

Through it all, Shoreline Sightseeing has been proud to serve visitors and residents of Chicago for 75 years, providing their unique service and an exceptional customer experience along the way. If you are interested in finding out more about any of the tours offered by Shoreline Sightseeing, be sure to contact us at 312-222-9328. Here’s to the next 75 years of fun on the water in Chicago!