Chicago is the birthplace of the skyscraper and continues to have one of the most beautiful skylines in the world.

The tops of these buildings were captured by Candace using a 400 mm telephoto lens on a brilliant blue day from the Chicago's First Lady riverboat.

LondonHouse Chicago

360 N. Michigan Ave.

This beautiful curved building was constructed in 1923 and designed by Alfred S. Alschuler for the London Guarantee and Accident Company North American headquarters. It sits on one of the four prominent corners of the Michigan Ave./DuSable bridge. Chicago was the largest intercoastal shipping port in the late 19th century. The domed temple on the top of the building is called a belvedere and was designed to command a beautiful view. The beaux art classical design draws from Daniel Burnham's vision of making Chicago "Paris on the Prairie".

Chicago Board of Trade

141 W. Jackson Blvd.

The Chicago Board of Trade Building is located at 141 West Jackson Boulevard, designed by John Holabird and John Wellborne Root, Jr. Construction was completed in 1930. It is a gorgeous, limestone Art Deco building featuring many of the decorative styles of that period. A faceless 31 foot aluminum statue of Ceres, the Roman goddess of agriculture stands atop the building’s pyramidal roof. Ceres was designed by John Storrs, a Chicago-born sculptor who trained in the U.S. and Europe.

190 South LaSalle

190 S. LaSalle St.

This six-gabled roofline building was designed by John Burgee Architects with Philip Johnson (associate architects, Shaw Associates). Built in 1987 it is a great example of the post-modern period of architecture which was popular from the early 1980s to 2000. Architectural design during this period would move away from the strict Miesian mid-century, steel and glass style that predated it (the 1950s - 1970s). The building was completed in 1987 and the fun and dramatic gabled roofline reflect back on the 1892 Chicago Masonic Temple formerly located at the corner of State and Randolph. Post-modern use of pink granite, the Art Deco-style punched windows, and the round arches are reminiscent of the Art Deco era (1925-1932) and the beaux art classical style of the early 1920s, respectively.

Boeing Building

100 N. Riverside Plaza

The railroad tracks run under the southwest corner of the building so pylons could not be placed to support the corner of the lower bustle. Perkins and Will with lead designer, Ralph Johnson solved the problem using a steel bracing truss on this lower section by distributing the weight of the missing corner support to the other three corners. When it was completed, the Structural Engineers Association of Illinois honored the building with its "Most Innovative " Design Award. Built in 1990 the curtain wall is composed of glass and stone and there is a south and north facing square clock tower at the top that is lit at night.

Saint Jane Hotel

230 N. Michigan Ave.

This was originally the Carbide and Carbon Building built in 1929 designed by the Burnham brothers, sons of Daniel Burnham. This 40 story tower has a base of black granite and marble. The shaft is dark green terra cotta trimmed with 24-carat gold 1/5000 inch thick. It is said that the building was inspired by a champagne bottle, expressing the jubilant feeling of the Art Deco era.

Leo Burnett Building

35 W. Wacker Dr.

This broad-shouldered building was completed in 1989 and was designed by Kevin Roche-John Dinkeloo & Associates. This 50-story reinforced concrete tower is home to the Leo Burnett advertising agency who became famous for Tony the Tiger and the Pillsbury Doughboy. It is postmodern in design using granite and glass in tones of greenish gray and the grayish windows are accented by insets of polished stainless steel. This postmodern building is reflecting back on a neoclassical style with the flattened collonade cornice at the top.

Marina City

300 N. State St.

This is one of the earliest reinforced concrete highrises designed by Bertrand Goldberg & Associates in the early 1960s. Marina City is a 61-story, two-tower multiuse development. It was one of the first residential apartment buildings in downtown Chicago. Goldberg believed a city could only survive if the residents lived in downtown and didn't escape to the suburbs. The complex originally contained 896 apartments, a 10-story office building, theater, bowling alley, health club, parking garage, cocktail lounge, restaurant, grocery store, and a 70 boat marina. In 1990 the complex was in bankruptcy and the theater, office building and restaurant were developed into the House of Blues, the Hotel Sax, and Smith & Wollensky restaurant. The apartments are now condos.

225 W. Wacker

225 W. Wacker

This is one of the six commissions in Chicago designed by the New York firm, Kohn Pederson Fox. It was completed in 1989 and the 31 story, postmodern building is clad in gray granite and the overall shape of the building is reminiscent of the tripartite configuation of the older Chicago School style skyscrapers with a 2-story base, central shaft, and a decorative top. The spires at the top are connected by a bridge-like design element and is a nod to all the bridges crossing the Chicago River.

333 W. Wacker

333 W. Wacker

This 36 story green glass beauty was completed in 1984 and was the first commission in Chicago by the NY architecture firm, Kohn Pederson Fox. This a great example of the postmodern era (the anti-modern era of rectangular, flat-roofed, steel and glass) incorporating a curved front and using two shades of green glass with a contextual reference to the color of the Chicago River in sun and shade. The city street grid is echoed on the back of the building while the front of the building gently curves with the river's bend.

Builders Building

222 N. LaSalle St.

Built for the 1920s booming building trades, the Builders Building was completed in 1927 and designed by Graham, Anderson, Probst & White. GAPW was the successor firm to Daniel Burnham and thus the neoclassic design. The original building did not have the glass Mansard roof (added in 1986). The classical design features glazed brick and terra cotta with Ionic columns present in the cornice and at the base.

Tribune Tower

435 N Michigan Ave.

The Tribune Tower represents the best of gothic design with it's richly decorated, elaborate traceries. The design was in response to a 1922 competition offering $100,000 in total prize money. There were 258 entries from 23 countries. Howells and Hood from New York won the competition. Both studied at the Ecoles des Beaux Arts in Paris. They teamed up to submit there bid. The steel building clad in heavy limestone was completed in 1925. The gothic top is fashioned after the famed Notre Dame Cathedral with it's Tour de Beurre (butter tower). The flying buttresses (right angle elbow structures) are decorative rather than structural like those found in some of the old gothic churches.

One River Place

758 N. Larrabee

This Art Deco building was originally designed and constructed for the Montgomery Ward executive, administrative, general and clerical offices in 1930 by Willis J. McCauley, Ward's in-house architect. The buildings vertical emphasis, narrow recessed windows, and bas relief ornamentation were prominent features of the Art Deco era. The four-story ziggurat tower has surmounted on it a 16-foot tall statue, the Spirit of Progress. 

Wrigley Building

400 N. Michigan Ave.

This beautiful ornate building was constructed in 1921 and designed by the successor firm of Daniel Burnham, Graham, Anderson, Probst & White. The steel building is clad in varying shades of glazed terra cotta. It is French and Spanish inspired and the clock tower is fashioned after the Giralda Tower in Seville, Spain. 

The Wm. Wrigley company originally were involved in the sale of scouring soap. They would hand out free baking powder as an enticement to buy their soap. Later in his career he started selling baking powder and offered two free packs of chewing gum with each can of baking powder purchased. The chewing gum eventually became more popular than the baking powder and Wrigley reoriented the company to produce the gum.

Mr. Wrigley also in the same year of 1921 became the majority owner of the Chicago Cubs.

77 W. Wacker

77 W. Wacker

This building represents exaggerated neoclassicism by Ricardo Bofill Arquitectura in conjunction with Destefano + Partners. Ricardo Bofill's first major Chicago building presents architecture as theater. It was completed in 1992 during the postmodern era of architecture and brings back some of the classical design seen on older Chicago buildings. The triangular pediment at the top is similar the Art Institute of Chicago.

333 N. Michigan

333 N. Michigan Ave.

An Art Deco building in all its glory is situated at the SE corner of the DuSable/Michigan Ave. bridge. Constructed in 1928 and designed by Holabird and Root, this all steel building clad in heavy limestone is devoid of ornament as seen on the neoclassic buildings earlier in the decade. The architects designed a streamlined vertical appearance with uninterrupted visuals so the eye would stream to the top. The limestone piers and darkened recessed windows scream verticality. Like all proper Art Deco buildings, it features a series of bas relief design.


111 W. Wacker

The construction of this reinforced concrete building started in 2007 and originally was going to be an 89-story hotel and condominium tower. Construction was halted in 2008 due to financial difficulties and the building was foreclosed on in 2009. Construction resumed in 2012 when Related Midwest bought the building and when it was completed Midwest Related sold it several months later and made a 300% profit. Lead architect, Gary Handel, says the recessed panes that wrap the building like ribbon represent the River. They also expose the reinforced concrete piers that support the building.

Fulton House

345 N Canal

This is the oldest building on the River from 1898 designed by Frank B. Abbott. Originally the building was almost windowless because it was the North American Cold Storage Warehouse - a huge refrigerator. The windows and doors were punched through the outer walls in the 80s when it was converted by Harry Weiss to luxury condominiums. It took 6 months to thaw the building out and over 500 semi-trailers to haul away the matted horsehair overlaid with cork used for insulation. The walls are over four feet thick and the floors are two feet deep.

Kingsbury Plaza

520 N. Kingsbury St.

This luxury rental building is all about being located in trendy River North with beautiful city and river views. It was designed by Solomon Cordwell Buenz & Associates and completed in 2008. It features 420 apartments ranging in size from studios, one bedroom, one bedroom + den, to two bedrooms. The south parking structure has 347 parking spaces and a large rooftop garden with pool. The height of the rooftop is higher than surrounding buildings so it gets a lot of sun!

The Franklin

222 W Adams St. & 227 W. Monroe

The Franklin is actually two buildings. The Monroe side was completed in 1989 and the Adams portion in 1992. The postmodern building was designed by Skidmore Owings & Merrill. SOM is largely recognized for the huge number of mid-century modern buildings they designed around the world. They followed the postmodern trend in the 1980s and came up with this beautiful design Art Deco-influenced and clad in gray granite. The mass of the building narrows with setbacks at floors 15, 30 and 45.

Willis Tower

233 S. Wacker Dr.

This 110 stories mid-century skyscraper was designed by Bruce Graham and structural engineer Fazlur Kahn of Skimore Owings & Merrill . It was completed in 1974 for the Sears Roebuck Company. Sears occupied the first 50 floors and were the original owners of the tower. There are three setbacks at floors 50, 66, and 90. The foundation is 100 feet down to bedrock. When Sears moved their headquarters to the western suburbs in 1992, the tower lost their biggest tenant. In 2009 the building was renamed after the insurance broker Willis Group Holdings leased the naming rights (and they only occupied three floors). In 2018 United Airlines moved in and is now the largest tenant. The Skydeck is located on the west side of the building on the 103rd floor - just barely visible in the photo. There are 104 elevators: eight for freight, two for the Skydeck and the rest for passengers.

311 S. Wacker Dr.

311 S. Wacker Dr.

The 65 stories pink granite building was designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox and completed in 1990. The three crowning cylinders are illuminated with 1800 fluorescent tube lights and are stunning in the Chicago night sky. The building is a great example of the postmodern style with the uninterrupted piers, narrow windows and the use of pinkish granite similar to the color & style of our old Art Deco buildings from the late 1920s.  

200 S. Wacker Dr.

220 S. Wacker

The structure consists of two white triangular reinforced concrete towers joined at their hypotenuse. Harry Weese purposely left one tower shorter to reveal the triangular concept. It was completed in 1981 and at that time the city granted a tax break to triangular footprints. The building is somewhat 1970s midcentury modern with its plain curtain wall and flat roofs but there is an early progressive postmodern feel (1980-2000) happening with the use of reinforced concrete, slightly rounded corners, and the two different heights. 

The Mart

222 W Merchandise Mart Plaza

When the Merchandise Mart was completed in 1930 it was the largest commercial building in the world. It is now the third largest with the Pentagon at 6.6 million sf, Willis at 4.5 million sf, and the Mart at 4 million sf. It was designed by Graham Anderson Probst & White. The building is very Art Deco in style with the uninterrupted piers, vertical ribbons of recessed windows, and the heavy limestone. The pyramidal roofline at the center was typical of many Art Deco buildings (like the Board of Trade). It was originally designed to replace the Marshall Field warehouse store and leave extra space to rent out to other wholesalers. It cost $38 million to build and then the Great Depression hit and forced Marshall Fields out of the wholesale market. The half empty structure was sold in 1945 to a group headed by Joseph Kennedy for $13 million. The Kennedy family sold the building in 1998 to Vornado Realty Trust for $575 million. It pays to hold onto your real estate!

House of Blues

329 N Dearborn St.

Trump Tower

401 N Wabash Ave.

InterContinental Chicago Hotel

505 N. Michigan Ave.

NBC Tower

454 N. Columbus Dr.

75 E. Wacker Dr 

Tower behind the LondonHouse Hotel

DuSable Bridge Towers


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