The City of Chicago's Official Site



Auditorium Building Brooks Building Carson, Pirie, Scott and Company Building Chicago Building Delaware Building Fisher Building Gage Group Haskell-Barker-Atwater Buildings Heyworth Building Leiter II Building Ludington Building Manhattan Building Marquette Building Monadnock Block New York Life Building Old Colony Building Page Brothers Building Reliance Building Rookery Building Washington Block Yale Apartments

Early Skyscrapers Tour

Following the Chicago Fire of 1871, the City's Common Council banned the building of wooden structures within the city limits. As the industrial revolution arrived, along with the growth of Chicago into a city of half a million, traditional urban centralization occurred and the business district known as "The Loop" was born.

An escalation in land prices forced lot owners to maximize available space. This, combined with advancements in engineering and services such as electricity and the elevator, saw architects starting to think vertically.

The city's swampy land base created challenges for building designers, as these buildings created a tremendous weight load on their foundation. This tour showcases the remaining landmarks from this important developmental period, and reflect the ingenuity of the architects of the first great skyscrapers -- from the first masonry-based buildings, to early 20th century steel frame structures.

Bear in mind that the term "skyscraper" has changed in meaning dramatically over the last 100 years. Today we think of the Hancock Building and Sears Tower, buildings well over 100 stories and 1,000 feet high. The first Chicago building called a skyscraper, the since demolished Montauk Building, topped the 1882 Chicago skyline at a then-dizzying 10 stories.

1. Auditorium Building
2. Brooks Building
3. Carson, Pirie, Scott and Company Building
4. Chicago Building
5. Delaware Building
6. Fisher Building
7. Gage Group
8. Haskell-Barker-Atwater Buildings
9. Heyworth Building
10. Leiter II Building
11. Ludington Building
12. Manhattan Building
13. Marquette Building
14. Monadnock Block
15. New York Life Building
16. Old Colony Building
17. Page Brothers Building
18. Reliance Building
19. Rookery Building
20. Washington Block
21. Yale Apartments