Architecture in Chicago

An Architecture Guide for Travelers to Chicago, Illinois

Chicago's Willis Tower seen in the distance from a Chicago park landscape
Chicago's Willis Tower seen in the distance from a Chicago park landscape. Photo by Luiz Felipe Castro/Moment Open/Getty Images

Chicago, Illinois is known for its architecture and has long been connected with some of architecture's most important names—Frank Lloyd Wright, Louis Sullivan, Mies van der Rohe, and Holabird & Root. Follow these links for a virtual tour of must-see architecture in Chicago.

Must-See Buildings in and around Chicago:

Famous Chicago Architects:

Chicago Before the Internet:

Today we think nothing of shopping online. Ever hear of What Amazon offers is a catalog of things to buy that can be shipped to your home. Before the digital revolution, the catalog of things was printed on paper, mailed to homes, and family members would circle items and turn down page corners for the treasures that they wanted. The "Wish List" in the "Wish Book" was the old Shopping Cart.

Chicago was at the hub of the American Industrial Revolution—skyscrapers were being built and a great network of rail lines converged in Chicago at the turn of the 20th century. The US Postal Service delivered mail by rail to remote and rural locations. Sears, Roebuck & Co., based in Chicago, delivered everything else—including jewery, farm equipment, groceries, and the precut supplies to build entire homes.

Browse our reproduced catalog pages from Sears and other mail order companies in Bungalows by Mail, Index to Selected Floor Plans. The competition became fierce, and marketing tactics became familiar to what we know today. Through these pages, we begin to see how modern Chicago became so quickly.

Learn More About Architecture in Chicago:

  • What is the Chicago School? Skyscrapers with Style
  • Chicago Architecture Foundation
    Site includes a virtual walking tour past famous skyscrapers.
  • Chicago Architecture and Design by Jay Pridmore and George A. Larson, Abrams, 2005
  • Chicago Architecture and Design, 1923-1993: Reconfiguration of an American Metropolis, edited by John Zukowsky, Prestel, 2000
  • Chicago Architecture: 1885 to Today by Chicago Architecture Foundation (C.A.F.), 2008
  • Chicago (America the Beautiful), Firefly, 2009
  • AIA Guide to Chicago by Alice Sinkevitch, 2004
  • A View from the River: The Chicago Architecture Foundation River Cruise by Jennifer Marjorie Bosch and Hedrich Blessing, 2008
  • Lost Chicago by David Garrard Lowe, University Of Chicago Press, 2010
  • Cool Chicago by Kathleen Maguire, Pavilion, 2014
  • The Encyclopedia of Chicago edited by James R. Grossman, Ann Durkin Keating, and Janice L. Reiff, University Of Chicago Press, 2004

Plan Your Chicago Architecture Visit:

For excellent tours of Chicago architecture, visit the National Register of Historic Places. You'll find maps, photographs, historical information, and travel recommendations.

Choose a Historic Chicago Hotel:

If you'd like to stay in a historic landmark building, you'll be interested in the following hotels.

  • Millennium Knickerbocker Hotel. Built in 1927, the centrally-located 14-story hotel is known for its lavish Crystal Ballroom.
  • Deer Path Inn. Located 30 miles north of Chicago in Lake Forest, this stately Tudor is modeled after a 15th-century English Manor House.
  • The Burnham Hotel has taken over the historic Reliance Building, one of Chicago's early skyscrapers, completed in 1895 and fully remodeled in the 1990s

Look for Special Offers in Chicago:

For special offers and helpful visitor information, explore the goChicago pages here at

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Your Citation
Craven, Jackie. "Architecture in Chicago." ThoughtCo, Aug. 26, 2020, Craven, Jackie. (2020, August 26). Architecture in Chicago. Retrieved from Craven, Jackie. "Architecture in Chicago." ThoughtCo. (accessed January 22, 2021).