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From the silhouette of the skyline to the crisscrossing of the streets on the grid far below, Chicago’s cityscape was noticeably transformed during the 1970s and ’80s. There was the erecting of its first two 100-story towers – the Sears and the John Hancock. These new skyscrapers were awesome feats of structural engineering. Their highest floors opened up to views as far as the eye could see. And if you were one of the many to travel skyward for a visit to their observatories, you could see the other architectural “jewels” going up around the Loop, too.

Surveying the land from these high places, one could also begin to see a city expanding further north, south, and west. The growing popularity of suburban development brought with it new commercial centers and new entertainment venues, and sometimes those were one and the same. But if you sidestepped the lure of the malls and tourist hangouts, you could still find yourself in some uniquely “Chicago” places. You could ramble through an industrial, yet up-and-coming Streeterville. Or marvel at the emptiness of State Street or, in contrast, the wildness of Maxwell Street. Or you could hop in the car and head north to visit the new Botanic Gardens, a place that references what the city looked like before it was paved with “bold plans and big dreams.”

Photo credits:
Sears Tower - Credit: SOM | Hedrich Blessing
Hancock Tower - Credit: SOM | Ezra Stoller | Esto
James R Thompson Ctr - Credit: Sharron Fox
Bertrand Goldberg - Credit: C. William Brubaker collection, University of Illinois at Chicago Library (College of Architecture and the Arts)
State St Pedestrian Mall - Credit: C. William Brubaker collection, University of Illinois at Chicago Library (College of Architecture and the Arts)
Great America - Credit: Six Flags Great America
Chicago Botanic Gardens - Credit: Robin Carlson © Chicago Botanic Garden
Water Tower Place - Credit: Special Collections Center, Bradley University Library
Woodfield Mall - Credit: Woodfield Mall

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