Photo credit: Alan Brunettin

Sullivan Center

Now known as the Sullivan Center, the former Carson Pirie Scott department store building is a State Street landmark, recognized especially by its richly ornamented, cast-iron entrance at the corner of Madison Street.

Photo credit: Alan Brunettin

Marquette Building

The Marquette Building serves as an example of the Chicago School style of architecture. It has a three-part façade that parallels a classical column — a clearly identified base, a vertical shaft of floors above, and an ornamented cornice that signifies the capital, or top, of the column.

The Marquette Building also displays the Chicago window: a large, fixed central pane of glass flanked by two operable narrow sashes. This window design became popular in the 1890s partly because it allowed for natural light and ventilation year-round.

Photo credit: Alan Brunettin

Reliance Building

With its glassy façade and almost minimalist sensibility, the Reliance Building foreshadowed modern architecture. The building’s vast expanses of windows, interrupted only by minimal bands of terra cotta, gave it a light, weightless appearance that set it apart from its blocky, earthbound contemporaries.

Photo credit: Alan Brunettin

Manhattan Building

The word “skyscraper” was first used to refer to buildings in an 1888 article in the Chicago Inter-Ocean: “The ‘sky-scrapers’ of Chicago outrival anything of their kind in the world.”

Photo credit: Alan Brunettin

Monadnock Building

For an example of the load-bearing masonry construction style common in the earliest skyscrapers, look no further than the Monadnock Building. (To be precise, look at the original building on West Jackson Boulevard; the southern addition on Van Buren Street was constructed later.)

Photo credit: Alan Brunettin

Auditorium Building and Theatre

When it opened in 1889, the Auditorium Building, with 400 hotel rooms, a 4,300-square-foot performance hall, and office and commercial space, was big news.  Not only was it a major commercial and civic destination;  its modern design and graceful proportions established Louis Sullivan and his partner, Dankmar Adler, at the forefront of American architects.  

Photo credit: The John Buck Company

The Rookery

One of the Loop buildings most beloved by architecture fans, the Rookery is known for its dramatic, sky-lit interior light court; its spiraling cast iron staircase; and its bold façade of red granite, brick and terra-cotta ornament.  At 16 stories, it is one of the oldest high-rise buildings in Chicago.

Mark Twain

“It is hopeless for the occasional visitor to try to keep up with Chicago — she outgrows his prophecies faster than he can make them. She is always a novelty; for she is never the Chicago you saw when you passed through the last time.”

Mark Twain, Life On The Mississippi, 1883

H. L. Mencken

“I give you Chicago. It is not London and Harvard. It is not Paris and buttermilk. It is American in every chitling and sparerib. It is alive from snout to tail.”

H. L. Mencken

E.M. Forster

“A facade of skyscrapers facing a lake, and behind the facade every type of dubiousness.”

E.M. Forster, Selected Letters, 1947


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