5 Sights in Chicago an Architecture Lover Will Appreciate

Unlike many cities known for their historical architecture, many of the buildings in the Downtown area before 1871 were destroyed in the Great Chicago Fire. One of the most famous buildings that survived was the famous Water Tower, and the majority of the remaining Chicago skyline was rebuilt. There are over 40 buildings in the city now that are known for their originality, innovation and massive height that receive world-renowned recognition. There are some Chicago attractions that especially stand out in both the skyline and on the agenda of every architecture-lover’s agenda.

The Tribune Tower was designed by the winning entry of the Chicago Tribune’s international competition to design the most beautiful and distinctive office building in the world in 1922. This design, reminiscent of the French cathedral of Rouen, was chosen for the flying buttresses on the crowning tower and the unbelievable silhouette the structure creates. The base of this tower contains 120 stones and building fragments from famous attractions in the 50 US states and several foreign countries including the Taj Mahal, the Berlin Wall, Abraham Lincoln’s Tomb and petrified wood from the Redwood State Parks.

Chicago Water Tower is made from Joliet limestone, quarried in Illinois, and was one of the only structures to survive the Great Chicago Fire in 1871. This is the second oldest water tower in the US, and while the Water Tower was originally built for a large water pump that drew in water from Lake Michigan, you’ll now find the Chicago Office of Tourism art gallery located inside.
Willis Tower, formerly known as Sears Tower, is one of the most well-known of Chicago’s architectural feats. This was the tallest building in the world when it was built in 1973, and to this day is still the tallest Building in North America. The architect Bruce Graham used a new form of construction on this modern building that would provide a stable base against the high winds Chicago is known for, which was how one of the tallest buildings in the world can make it big time in the Windy City. The tower covers takes up two city blocks, and was originally built to accommodate the needs of Sears, Roebuck and Company, who required especially large offices. By 1985, two domed entrances were added to the original building and in 2009, The Ledge was added. The Ledge allows visitors to step out into a glass box, 1,353 feet above the city streets.


Willis Tower

The John Hancock Building is one of the top tourist destinations in Chicago, and the fifth tallest skyscraper in the United States. Up to the top of the antenna masts, the building stands at 1,500 ft, and as great as the building it to look up at from the ground, one of the greatest views in Chicago is from the 94th floor observation deck.

The Palmolive Building was originally built to house one of the world’s biggest soap manufacturers and known as “a monument to cleanliness.” This was the first commercial skyscraper that was built outside of the main Chicago Downtown area and is one of the premier Art Deco skyscrapers in America. The building was designed by Holabird & Roche, one of the oldest, most prestigious firms in Chicago who also build the Chicago Board of Trade and the Chicago Daily Building. If that’s not enough, this was also the headquarters of Playboy Magazine from 1965 to 1989.

There are many buildings that any architecture lover will enjoy when they’re sightseeing, and many of the best tours in Chicago highlight their importance and history. But most of these buildings are top attractions for every tourist, no matter what their interest in design and history is.

This article was written by Lizz Riggs, editor of ChicagoTraveler.com.