The Great Chicago Fire of 1871 destroyed more than 17,000 buildings in Chicago’s central district and, as it just so happens, occurred on the cusp of a revolution in building construction technology. For the first time, much taller buildings, bolstered by interior metal frames, were possible. It didn’t take long for ambitious architects to flock to Chicago, drawn by the opportunity to create something entirely new: a city of skyscrapers.
In the ensuing decades, Chicago became the nation’s leader in architectural innovation. Today, several of the city’s most spectacular buildings today sit along the Main Branch, where views are mostly unencumbered and a continuous trail now lines the river’s edge on Chicago’s Riverwalk.
The audio architectural tour below explores several of those buildings, and while it can be enjoyed from your home computer, it is designed to be experienced on your mobile phone while walking along the Riverwalk. Starting just east of the Michigan Avenue Bridge, near the dock for Chicago’s First Lady, press play as you approach each individual building, and feel free to take a break in between stops.