Chicago Architecture

The reviews aren’t wrong. One of the best things you can do in Chicago is the Chimicago Architecture Foundation’s river boat trip. A knowledgeable volunteer talks about all the buildings along the river as you journey up and down and back and to the mouth of Lake Michigan. 

It’s fascinating to learn about all the different architectural styles, their influences, and some of the history of the city. One of the most amazing things is that in the late 19th Century they reversed the flow of the river to stop the lake, and their drinking water, being contaminated by city waste. 

Here are some photos of the buildings we saw, but I admit my photography skills on a boat in blazing sunshine behind a whole load of other people leave something to be desired…


One of the most distinctive buildings in Chicago this was built in the early 1960s and was one of the first residential blocks built in Downtown since the fire in the 19th century. It was also one of the first residential blocks to feature parking. 

Here you can see a good shot of the L train going over the river. 

Interestingly the skyscraper was invented in Chicago. There was a fire in downtown Chicago which wiped out all the buildings and it was just after the end of the civil war. Since during the war they had learned to make strong bridges using steel, they experimented with using this construction to make taller buildings. And the Chicago skyline was born. 

This building is curved to reflect the skyline and look like the river itself. 

This is the Chicago Tribune building built in the Gothic Revival style. To British eyes I think it looks faintly ridiculous, especially since those flying buttresses are purely for decoration. 

The NBC building is contextual, built to mirror other buildings on the river and also the NBC building at 30 Rockerfeller Plaza. I think Tom was hoping Jack Donoghy and Liz Lemon would be there. 

This is a new building which uses different sized balconies that look like waves to deflect the wind around the building. It is also meant to foster more community as people can see one another as the balconies aren’t directly overhead. 

The skyline from the mouth of the river. 

Overall a really pleasant morning, and I wouldn’t be British if I didn’t comment on how lucky we were with the weather!

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