Our tour of Chicago architecture

Chicago is full of beautiful views of its skyline

Chicago’s skyline is a who’s who among architectural designs. Considered the forefather of the skyscraper, the city has been a leader among building designs since the late 1800s. The first Chicago skyscraper was 10 stories.

Today, Chicago’s skyline is considered one of the most impressive and beautiful in the world. For a person whose hometown had 300 people and the tallest structure was the grain elevator, a city like Chicago is the Disney World of architecture.

The city has a great variety of building designs

Lisa is a fan of architecture. And the older the building, the better. Thus, we have started checking out other cities’ architecture.

Chicago’s skyline is worth checking out via one of the tours offered. When we last visited, we took a boat tour to view various architecture styles. In addition, walking among the giant structures is a great way to get a close-up view.

Chicago’s skyline

The city is recognized for about 30 styles – or schools – of designs. Buildings can arrange from Gothic Revival, Classic Revival and Romanesque Revival to Art Deco, Modern and Queen Anne.

Let’s start with the Art Institute of Chicago. The city hosted the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition to honor the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus. Chicagoans thought the celebration would show the world that the city had overcome the devastating 1871 fire.

Art Institute of Chicago

The Art Institute building was constructed in the Beaux Arts design. It served as an auxiliary building during the exposition. It continued to be developed afterward, with improvements over several years. Today, the front of the building continues to resemble its original design, while the north-facing section features a glass wall allowing full view of the Millennium Park.

Wrigley Building along the Chicago River was completed in 1924. It was designed with the Spanish Colonial Revival style. It remains one of the most recognizable building in the Windy City.

Wrigley Building

Across the street stands the Tribune Tower, home of the Tribune media company. The Gothic Revival design helped the building stand out when it was completed in 1925.

The Tribune Tower stands behind a giant statue of Marilyn Monroe. The sculpture was a temporary exhibit during one of our visits.

The Magnificent Mile is home to a couple of interesting buildings. The Water Tower was built in 1869 with a Gothic Revival design.

The Water Tower

The Hancock Center is one of the tallest in Chicago. It offers visitors a chance to see the area on its observation floor level. The Hancock was built in 1969 with the Mid-Century Modernism style. The rectangular tube building uses X-shaped braces to block the wind.

The Hancock Center

Checking out other buildings in Chicago gives visitors a look at some interesting designs.

Marina City. Built in 1967, it is designed with Mid-Century Modernism.

Marina City’s buildings are designed in circular fashion. Built in 1967 using the Mid-Century Modernism style, Marina City was designed to encourage people to live in an urban area, after people had moved to the suburbs. One of the things that impressed me was seeing people back their cars in their spots. I would be extremely worried about backing too far and losing the car over the side of the building (ha ha).

You better be good at backing up your car

Willis Tower (formerly known as Sears Tower) is another Mid-Century Modernism design. It was built in 1974. At 110 stories, the building was the tallest in the world for 25 years. It has one of the best views of the metro area on its observation deck.

Willis Tower

Built in 2009, the Aqua Tower is a mixed use building. It’s home to the Radisson Aqua Hotel, as well as apartments. The neat thing about the Aqua is that the building’s exterior resembles water flowing down.


Trump Tower was completed in 2009 as a mixed use facility. I am a fan of reflections, so it was obvious to me that I would like the design.

Trump Tower

Finally on our tour, we check out the Lake Point Tower. It was completed in 1968. The residential tower is located near the Navy Pier. The 70-story building was designed as a curved structure. The lobby has two waterfalls. It’s been home to several celebrities, including actors Goldie Hawn and Tom Cruise, as well as former Chicago Cubs players Ryne Sandberg and Sammy Sosa.

Lake Point Tower

Chicago offers visitors an opportunity to see several types of architectural styles. You can check out the city through various methods, such as a river tour or walking on your own. Regardless of how you do it, we recommend taking in Chicago’s skyline and its buildings. You can visit the area several times and find new buildings and facilities to explore.

For more information on Chicago’s architecture and design, please visit these sites among others: