When Chicago was built, the city had a clean slate. In 1871, the Great Chicago Fire broke out, destroying an area of about 4 miles long and 1 mile wide – a large swath of the city at the time. It was a city planner’s dream and set the precedent for worldwide construction. They developed a world class downtown with exceptional architecture – a brilliant blend of business and residential without getting into a car. Fine urban living, if you can manage it through the harsh winters.
The destruction caused by the Great Chicago Fire led to the largest building boom in the history of the nation. In 1885, the first steel-framed high-rise building, the Home Insurance Building, rose in the city as Chicago ushered in the skyscraper era, which would then be followed by many other cities around the world. Today, Chicago’s skyline is among the world’s tallest and most dense.
Chicago was integral to two architectural movements. It gave its name to the Chicago School and was home to the Prairie School. Large swaths of the city’s residential areas away from the lake are characterized by brick bungalows built from the early 20th century through the end of World War II. Chicago is also a prominent center of the Polish Cathedral style of church architecture. The Chicago suburb of Oak Park was home to famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright, who had designed The Robie House located near the University of Chicago as well as many prominent buildings across the country.
Unlike many Midwestern and East Coast cities, Chicago tends to have wider streets. A positive effect of this is that it alleviates the feeling of being engulfed by the city’s large skyscrapers. Most of the city’s residential streets also tend to have a wide patch of grass and/or trees between the street and the sidewalk itself. This has the effect of keeping pedestrians walking on the sidewalk further away from the street traffic. Chicago’s Western Avenue is the longest continuous urban street in the world. The City Beautiful movement inspired Chicago’s boulevards and parkways.
Enjoy more photos of Chicago @http://www.flickr.com/photos/jodisummers/sets/72157634440136595/
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