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Skyscrapers of Chicago

Chicago is known as the birthplace of the skyscraper as a result of the previous wooden city that burned in the Great Fire of 1871. After the fire, an 1874 bylaw outlawed wooden building construction in the downtown area. As a result, architects had to find other building materials that were not wood.

The nine story Home Insurance Building (1885), is often credited with being the world’s first skyscraper. It was only 138 feet tall but was built with a steel skeleton which meant that the structure could be built higher than any wooden structure. By 1889, Chicago had five more skyscrapers than New York City. The Home Insurance Building was as razed in 1931 and replaced by an even taller building, the 535 ft tall Field Building.

I have always had an interest in seeing and sketching architecture and I wanted to do a pre trip sketch about Chicago’s skyline. I found my inspiration in a Fodor’s travel guide (2019).

The guide laid out some of Chicago’s more iconic buildings in chronological order. It looks like a stock prospectus, as it grows over time, with occasional dips.

A view of Chicago’s skyscrapers from its tallest skyscraper.