Chicago Building Histories

Starting Points

AIA Guide to Chicago

Alice Sinkevitch (2004)
This guide to the architecture of Chicago begins with several essays on the shaping of Chicago. Architectural events from the great fire of 1871 to the tax reform acts of 1986 and 89 are traced. The bulk of this book is dedicated to a street-by-street survey of the city.

Chicago’s Famous Buildings

Franz Schulze (2003)
Pocket guide to the architecture of Chicago. Covers more than a decade of extraordinary new architecture and takes a fresh look at the early Chicago architecture of Adler, Sullivan, Burnham, Root, Wright, and Mies van der Rohe.

Chicago Historic Resources Survey

Commission on Chicago Landmarks and Chicago Department Of Planning and Development (1996)
It lists each of the 17,371 properties that were identified by The CHRS surveyors as having architectural and/or historical significance, either individually or as part of a concentration of significant structures. In addition to the property’s address, the report provides information about the structure’s date of construction, architect, building style and type, and landmark status. The report also includes a guide to various architectural styles, as well as: street names, community areas, building styles, and building types. Finally, the report’s appendix contains an explanation of the methodology and research information that was used by the CHRS surveyors.

Residential Chicago

Chicago Plan Commission (1942-43)
Presents summaries of city-wide data on residential land use and the most complete statistical information now available on the physical, social and economic character of residential properties in Chicago.

Hyde Park Houses

Jean F. Block (1978)
This book is intended to show how, in the period between 1856 and 1910, a settlement metamorphosed into a heavily populated and thriving urban neighborhood. The story of this growth, to which geographical, economic, social, and intellectual forces all contributed, can still be read in the streetscapes of the neighborhood and in the architecture of its houses.

Half Century of Chicago Building

John H. Jones (1910)
Arranged by types of buildings, problems, etc. Illustrations of buildings, some interiors and a few building techniques. Detailed section on building codes.

Chicago Architecture: 1872-1922: Birth of a Metropolis

John Zukowsky (1987)
Architectural history of the city after to the Great Fire of 1871 to the early 1920’s.

Chicago Architecture and Design 1923-1993: Reconfiguration of an American Metropolis

John Zukowsky (1993)
Billed as the first major study of Chicago’s 20th century architectural achievements, this is an in-depth survey of the formative years of Chicago’s modern architecture.

They Built Chicago: Entrepreneurs who shaped a Great City’s Architecture

Miles L. Berger (1992)
The book has been organized into four major periods, spanning more than 150 years of Chicago history: 1830 to 1879; 1880 to 1899; 1900-1929; and the years from the end of World War II to the present. Although the distinction in terms of dates is somewhat arbitrary, each of these periods presented its own opportunities and challenges and each manifested a characteristic development style. The four sections are introduced by a brief overview defining significant development issues in the period and each developer profiled is placed within the period during which he was most active.

Lost Chicago

David Lowe (2000)
This book explores Chicago’s architectural history by examining a number of important buildings that have been demolished, and includes countless photographs and drawings.

The Sky’s the Limit: A Century of Chicago Skyscrapers

Pauline A. Saliga (1990; 1998 printing)
This illustrated survey of Chicago skyscrapers traces the history of the Chicago School buildings that influenced generations of architects worldwide. Beginning with the S.S. Berman Fine Arts Building of 1885 and its neighbor, the Adler and Sullivan Auditorium of 1889, the author discuss 110 extant buildings dating from 1885 through 1989, concluding with a series of contemporary, modernist skyscrapers by the “new” generation of Chicago architects.

Chicago Architecture and Design

George A. Larson and Jay Pridmore (2005)
Covers the evolution of modern architecture from the building boom after Chicago’s Great Fire of 1871 through the 1992 completion of the Harold Washington Library. Reviews the careers of Chicago’s seminal architects, including John Wellborn Root, William Holabird, Daniel Burnham, David Alder, Frank Lloyd Wright, George Fred Keck and William Keck. Moving forward in time, they discuss the work of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill as well as the controversial and flashy structures of Helmut Jahn.