Every city has its token landmark: Paris' Eiffel Tower; Venice's Grand Canal; New York City's Statue of Liberty; St. Louis' Gateway Arch. Chicago, on the other hand, has several iconic gems. Here’s a look at seven must-sees that’ll give you the flavor of the city.
The Museum of Science and Industry was built during the 1893 World’s Fair as the Palace of Fine Arts, designed by Charles B. Atwood. Most of the buildings in the World’s Fair were built out of stucco in the classical style of architecture, and this is the only one still standing.
No Chicago architecture guide would be complete without mention of Frank Lloyd Wright, leader of the Prairie School movement. Robie House is one of the best and most carefully restored examples of the movement and is open for tours every week.
The Aragon Ballroom in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood was built in the Moorish style and was meant to replicate a Spanish palace. The ballroom was a favorite during Prohibition era and still is today, with past performers including Frank Sinatra, Duke Ellington, The Rolling Stones, and Green Day.
The Marina City on State Street is certainly hard to miss. Designed by Bertrand Goldberg in 1959, these identical 65-story corncob-shaped buildings were the tallest reinforced concrete structures in the world at the time of their completion. The apartments contained in the towers have almost no right angles, and every bedroom and living room has a balcony.
The City of the Big Shoulders wouldn’t be complete without the famous John Hancock Center and a visit to the John Hancock Observatory. Created by structural engineer Fazlur Khan and architect Bruce Graham, this 100-story building was built in the structural expressionist style, with the X-bracing exterior embracing the beauty of structure and function.
Finally, the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere is here in Chicago, and you literally can’t miss it. The 106-story Willis Tower was the tallest building in the world when it was completed in 1973. The Skydeck on the 103rd floor offers a can’t-miss chance to stand on top of the world.