Architecture of Chicago

The city of Chicago has become a historic landmark for America. Its legendary skyline, intricate architecture, and cultural elegance keeps you busy taking it all in. Chicago hosting the world’s fair in 1893 brought this city it to the world’s stage and enabled it to compete with cities like New York, Paris, Washington D.C. and more.  Since the 1893 world’s fair Chicago has continued to wow and surprise its visitors. In my time there I was able to take in its beauty from all angles, to see buildings new and old and the different elements every architect brought to the City.

The Palmer Hilton Hotel, after burning down once, was completed in 1875 and was a luxurious hotel with intricate detail in every direction. It held many different cultural elements, gothic style chandeliers, roman arches and balconies, and more european- style rooms. We, as Americans, are used to big and bigger. The rooms and bathrooms at the Palmer were on the smaller size suggesting a nod to the European-style smaller bathrooms; simple with yet intricate details.

Photo Credit Julia Tisdale
Photo Credit Julia Tisdale Palmer Hilton Hotel
Photo Credit Julia Tisdale
Photo Credit Julia Tisdale Palmer Hilton Hotel

The Buckingham Fountain was built in 1927 and funded by Kate Buckingham, its namesake.  Buckingham Fountain was built in the era of the “Roaring 20’s” when extravagance was key. It is built on the coast of Lake Michigan and designed to be a bostirous  greeter to all who came by ship into this great city. The design of it brought the culture of Versailles into Chicago and is a must-see attraction by all visitors.

Photo Credit Julia Tisdale
Photo Credit Julia Tisdale Buckingham Fountain

The Cultural Center of Chicago holds both the library and civil war museum of Chicago. The library is a bright marble building with beautiful stain glass and mosaics. A very bright and vibrant opening meant to inspire thinking and learning, just as the books inside it do It has a very Greek influence to and the walls house quotes in many different languages. It houses the largest most expensive Tiffany dome in the world designed and inspired by Charles Lewis Tiffany bringing beauty, culture, and extravagance into Chicago.

Photo Credit Julia Tisdale
Photo Credit Julia Tisdale Mosaic Art in Cultural Center
Photo Credit Julia Tisdale
Photo Credit Julia Tisdale Library in Cultural Center

I think the city of Chicago and the many architects that help to build it into what it is today, and still do. It brings the ideas of the past and beauty of Roman, Greek, and Gothic styles, that we see in the Rookery Center, Board of Trade, and Art Institute. We still continue to see record-breaking sky scrapers be built around the historic buildings and new ground-breaking ways of design and building things taller, angular, and intricate. It took over hundreds of years to make the Chicago skyline what it is today.

Photo Credit Julia Tisdale
Photo Credit Julia Tisdale Art Institute 


Rookery Building Photo Credit Julia Tisdale

Photo Credit Julia Tisdale
Photo Credit Julia Tisdale Chicago Skyline

In the city of Midland you don’t see the different cultures and large buildings you see in Chicago, but you do see a city of growth, and growth is positive in any city. Midland provides you with the new modernistic view of buildings, especially in downtown.  One particular building in downtown Midland mimics a street-scape that would normally take decades to establish.  The new East End Development does that architecturally by using several different building treatments in a singular development – giving it the feel of a series of buildings constructed over time rather than a single development. The East End represents the one-day historic architecture of Downtown Midland.

Photo Credit Gillespie Group
Photo Credit Gillespie Group East End Development 

Architecture isn’t about studying one style of building, its about the past, present, and future of that structure. We look at these older buildings of Chicago and admire and learn about what we can build today. The new modern buildings of today are marveled by all and show the ability and how far we have come in the designs and technologies of new eras. It’s about taking all of that we’ve learned and admired, making  improvements and being able to be part of the next era of new architectural design. As a construction management major I see these buildings and admire the word of Burnham and Root, and what they’ve created and how it is still so beloved and historic. I think of how I want to take their style of design and the new modern styles of architect to apply to my buildings so that hundreds of years from now, people can marvel at my designs. The Willis Tower has a quote on the wall as you walk through the history of Chicago before going up into the sky deck. “Make big plans. Aim high in hope and work.” Maybe he means in skyscrapers.  Maybe it’s in all the work we do.  Chicago aimed high and look what it has accomplished.

Photo Credit Julia Tisdale
Photo Credit Julia Tisdale 

9 thoughts on “Architecture of Chicago

  1. This post brought me right back to most every place we visited while in Chicago. The details behind every picture that you researched more in depth is impeccable. I completely agree that architecture is not just about the past as well.

  2. I really like the angle you took comparing Midland’s architecture to Chicago’s. Also, I like how you focused on architecture as a whole, so while reading your post we can read about many different significant buildings in Chicago.

  3. I really liked how eclectic your post was it really brought me back to all of those sights and you provided a lot of foundational information on these structures that I would’ve never took the time to indulge in.

  4. Your attention to detail was great! Really liked how you tied many buildings and designs together and talked about the hotel. The comparison between the growth of Chicago and how Midland is rapidly expanding was a creative way to tie things together. Great job!

  5. Very informative and lots of pictures! Your conclusion paragraph is an inspiration. I wish you had focused more on a single Chicago building, but all around very neat and personal.

  6. I liked a lot! Specially because I agree with the fact that we overlook our architecture. Each city has its own soul. For someone who don’t know Chicago might be another big city as New York but it is very different. Midland is very different but those its own beauty. Good job!

  7. I really loved that you put a focus on more of the interior of buildings in your architecture, it really pointed out how beautiful some of these buildings are and how much detail you can find in them. It was nice too to see such a beautiful contrast between old and modern structures.

  8. It was very cool how you tied in Chicago’s architecture and Midland’s architecture with your major and ideas. It truly sounded like a blog to me, and I enjoyed reading it!

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