On August 12, 1833, the Town of Chicago had roughly 200 inhabitants. Four years later, in 1837, it was upgraded to The City of Chicago – an interesting fact given that there are still 19 incorporated towns in Illinois. The Great Chicago Fire of 1871 killed 300 people, destroyed about 3.3 square miles (9 km2), and left more than 100,000 residents homeless. However, by that time Chicago had become the world’s fastest-growing city and its population had risen over 300,000 inhabitants. The fire meant these ambitious citizens had to start again.
With admirable strength, the city was reborn from the ashes and some of Chicago’s best architecture was constructed immediately after. Structures like the Rookery Building (1888, Frank Lloyd Wright), the Auditorium Building (1889, Louis Sullivan) and the Monadnock Building (1893, Burnham & Root, Holabird & Roche) are a few examples of the high standards the city was aiming for.
Since then, Chicago has only continued adding value to its urban grid and new buildings have been progressively enhancing the city’s beautiful skyline. This year Chicago celebrates the 2019-2020 Biennial and the city has plenty to offer. But, where to start?
If you love architecture, here is a list of buildings – old and new – that will help you understand, internalize and love Chicago’s built environment.
Shall we begin?