Chicago is a city that is globally hailed as a hub of beautiful and iconic architecture. From the prairie-style homes of Frank Lloyd Wright to the Tiffany glass dome of the Chicago Cultural Center, the city is its own walking museum of culture, art, and history.
One of the most popular tourist attractions is the Chicago Architecture Foundation River Cruise. Here at Harris, we'll give you our own architecture guide from the comfort of your couch! Read on for a little bit of history behind Chicago's famed buildings and hidden gems.
Chicago Athletic Association Hotel
Created from the mind of Henry Ives Cobb, who also designed much of UChicago's campus, the Chicago Athletic Association (CCA) is a landmark institution situated right on Michigan Avenue in the Loop. The CCA opened in 1893 during the World's Columbian Exposition - and its lavish Venetian Gothic style reflects the elegance of the private club setting. Restored in 2007, the CCA is now open to all as a hotel. The "game room" and Cindy's Rooftop are popular nightlife destinations for handmade cocktails and a great atmosphere.
Chicago Water Tower
No, not the shopping mall across from the Hancock Building. The original water tower is hailed as a symbol for Chicagoans, as the myth goes that the water tower was the only building standing after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 (in reality, it was the only iconic building left standing). The water tower was created to stand as a pumping station for a fresh water supply on the Near North side.
The Sears Tower
Now known as "The Willis Tower", our iconic skyscraper held the title of worlds' tallest building for 25 years. At 110 stories, the building is home to hundreds of companies and is a driving force of innovation, business, technology, and commerce for the city. Its roots lie with the Sears Roebuck Company, which was one of the city's largest retail employers for many years. If you are brave enough, the 103rd floor has a glass floor called "The Ledge" that has great (see-through) views of the city. Fun fact: you can see Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, and Michigan from the tower!
At Harris, we are lucky to be a five minute drive from our historic neighbor, Jackson Park. It was designed in the 1860s by Frederick Law Olmsted, the genius behind Central Park.Unfortunately, the Chicago Fire halted construction, and the park was finished in 1890 before the Columbian Exposition. Olmsted revered the natural beauty of Lake Michigan, and built the park around it. Soon, Jackson Park will also be home to the Obama Presidential Center, a library dedicated to the legacy of the 44th president (and Chicagoan).
The Winter Garden at the Harold Washington Library
This hidden gem can be found on the ninth floor of the Harold Washington Library. A huge glass atrium, it is the perfect place to study for your upcoming exams (you're here to get a degree, after all!). It's a favorite spot by locals. And the WiFi is free and strong!