Chicago is the birthplace of the skyscraper. The Home Insurance Building, completed in 1885, is regarded as the world's first skyscraper. This building used the steel-frame method, innovated in Chicago. It was originally built with 10 stories, an enormous height in the 1800s, to a height of 138 feet (42 m), making it the tallest building in the world at that time. It was later expanded to 12 stories with a height of 180 feet (55 m). The building was demolished in 1931.New York City then began building skyscrapers as Chicago had done, and the two cities were virtually the only cities in the world with huge skylines for many decades. Chicago has always played a prominent role in the development of skyscrapers and three past buildings have been the tallest building in the United States. Being the inventor of the skyscraper, Chicago went through a very early high-rise construction boom that lasted from the early 1920s to the late 1930s, during which 11 of the city's 91 tallest buildings were constructed. The city then went through an even larger building boom that has lasted from the early 1960s. The tallest buildings are concentrated in various downtown districts such as the Loop, Streeterville, River North, the South Loop, and the West Loop. Other high-rises extend north along the waterfront into North Side districts such as the Gold Coast, Lincoln Park, Lakeview, Uptown and Edgewater. Some high-rises also extend south from downtown along the waterfront to South Side districts such as Kenwood, Hyde Park, and South Shore.
Several new skyscrapers were constructed in the city throughout the 2000s, including the Trump International Hotel and Tower. As of August 2016 there were 67 skyscrapers under construction in Chicago.
The 2010 Chicago skyline as seen from the Adler Planetarium (Use cursor to identify buildings)
Tallest buildings in Chicago
A plethora of towers in downtown Chicago, looking northeast towards Lake Michigan
This list ranks Chicago skyscrapers that stand at least 550 feet (168 m) tall, based on standard height measurement. This height includes spires and architectural details but does not include antenna masts. An equal sign (=) following a rank indicates the same height between two or more buildings. The "Year" column indicates the year of completion.
Tallest buildings by pinnacle height
This list ranks Chicago skyscrapers based on their pinnacle height, which includes radio masts and antennas. Standard architectural height measurement, which excludes antennas in building height, is included for comparative purposes. The "Year" column indicates the year in which a building was completed.
This lists buildings that are under construction in Chicago as of January 2019 and are planned to rise at least 300 feet (91 m). Buildings whose construction is on-hold are also included. A floor count of 30 stories is used as the cutoff for buildings whose heights have not yet been released by their developers. The "Year" category denotes when the building is expected to be completed.
Approved, construction permit issued February 2019.
1101 S. Wabash
Will become a co-shared Hilton Homewood Suites and Hilton Garden Inn.
This lists buildings that are proposed for construction in Chicago and that are planned to rise at least 300 feet (91 m). A floor count of 50 stories is used as the cutoff for buildings whose heights have not yet been released by their developers. The "Year" category denotes when construction of the building is expected to begin.
* Table entries with dashes (—) indicate that information regarding expected building heights, floor counts or dates of completion has not yet been released.
Timeline of tallest buildings
Current Chicago Board of Trade Building
This is a list of buildings that once held the title of tallest building in Chicago. Of all the buildings that have held the title, only Willis Tower has also held the title of world's tallest building.
155 North Wacker is a 48-story skyscraper located in Chicago, Illinois designed by Goettsch Partners and was developed by the John Buck Company. It stands 638 feet (195 m). It has received LEED silver pre-certification. The construction started in 2007 and was completed in 2009.
181 West Madison Street is a skyscraper located in Chicago. Built in 1990, the building is 680 feet (207 m) tall and contains 50 floors. It is architect Cesar Pelli's first and only completed tower in the city.
The glassy office tower's most distinctive feature is its recessed crown. The top of the building is illuminated white at the corners, as well as other various colors depending on the holiday.
In 1989, the same combination of developer (The Beitler Company) and architect envisioned the Miglin-Beitler Skyneedle nearby. The 2,000 foot (610 m) and 125-story building would have been the tallest skyscraper in the world if completed, but plans were scrapped because of a sluggish real estate market.
500 West Madison is a 42 story, 588-foot (180 m) skyscraper in Chicago, Illinois. Located between Clinton and Canal Streets on Madison Street, the structure was designed by the architecture firm Murphy/Jahn in a late modernist style. The building, previously named the Northwestern Atrium Center and Citigroup Center, was constructed between 1984 and 1987 on the air rights obtained by the destruction of the head house of the 1911 North Western Station. The building contains retail and offices, and is connected to the platforms of Ogilvie Transportation Center.
55 East Erie is an all-residential skyscraper in Chicago. It is at 647 feet (197 m). Designed by Fujikawa Johnson & Associates and Searl & Associates Architects, the 56 story building was completed in 2004 and is the fourth-tallest all-residential building in the United States after Trump World Tower in New York City, One Museum Park in Chicago, and the nearby 340 on the Park completed in 2007 in Chicago.
The design called for flying buttresses around the mechanical penthouse, which were eventually dropped. Early on, the building was envisioned as much taller in order to house a Mandarin Oriental hotel, but a deal was never struck.
55 East Erie has 194 residential units, including seven floors of split story penthouse homes. The building also features four “Skyhomes,” each a unique four story townhome with its own elevator. Amenities for residents include a swimming pool, fitness center, men's and women's locker rooms each with their own steam room, and a hospitality room.
Chicago Place is a mixed-use high-rise on the 700 block of North Michigan Avenue (between Huron and Superior) in Chicago along the Magnificent Mile anchored by Saks Fifth Avenue. According to the Chicago Tribune, as of February 2009, the mall portion has been closed and is now a T-Mobile Store as well as offices. Above that is a tower containing condominiums.
425 South Financial Place (formerly known as FOUR40 prior to 2017) is a 515 ft (157 m) tall skyscraper in Chicago, Illinois. It was completed in 1985 and has 40 floors. Skidmore, Owings & Merrill designed the building, which is tied with 401 East Ontario as the 78th tallest building in Chicago.
425 South Financial Place houses the Chicago Stock Exchange. The highly acclaimed restaurant Everest and a boutique hotel are located on the top floor.
Hyatt Center is an American office tower in Chicago completed in 2005. The 48-story skyscraper stands at 679 feet (207 m) on 71 South Wacker Drive. It is owned by the Irvine Company.
The 1,765,000 square foot (164,000 m²) building contains 65,000 cubic yards (50,000 m³) of concrete and 12,000 tons of structural steel. It took about 2,700 truckloads to excavate the building's foundation, and 1,300,000 man hours over nearly two years to finish. Twenty-eight high speed elevators serve Hyatt Center.
The building features extensive landscape design by Chicago's Hoerr Schaudt Landscape Architects, both inside and outside, from bamboo groves, complete with fountains, lining the modern lobby to lush green grass in raised curved stone planters on the building's south side. The Hyatt Center also contains art panels by Keith Tyson and a trompe l'oeil mural by Ricci Albenda.
The anchor tenants of the building include Hyatt Hotels Corporation - floors 10 through 17 - and Mayer Brown LLP - floors 32,33 and 36-43. The floor 2 cafe is available to all tenants and registered guests.
Optima Signature (formerly Optima Chicago Center II) is a residential skyscraper in the Streeterville neighborhood of the Near North Side area in Chicago. The 57-story building is a joint venture between Optima Inc. and DeBartolo Development. It opened for occupancy in June 2017. The building has 490 units.
The Pittsfield Building, is a 38-story skyscraper located at 55 E. Washington Street in the Loop community area of Chicago, Illinois, United States, that was the city's tallest building at the time of its completion. The building was designated as a Chicago Landmark on November 6, 2002.
River East Center is a Chicago skyscraper that is a part of the larger River East complex. The tower, containing 620 condominium units, stands at 644 feet (196 m) with 58 floors, and was completed in 2001. The building, designed by DeStefano + Partners, originally called for spires atop of the roof on all sides that would have significantly raised the official height to 680 feet. As it stands today, River East Center is the third tallest all-residential building in Chicago.
The building shares a common base with the nearby 18 story Embassy Suites Lakefront. The base of River East Center also contains an AMC Theatre, the largest cinema in the city of Chicago with 21 screens.
Skybridge is a high-rise luxury condominium located in the West Loop of Chicago. It won the 2003 bronze Emporis Skyscraper Award. The base of the building is home to a Whole Foods grocery store. The building climbs to 38 stories, while the top two are home to the penthouses. The 36th floor contains a workout facility for tenants and a roof-top garden space. The building was designed by Perkins and Will.
The Fordham is one of the tallest residential buildings in Chicago. The 52-story building was completed in 2003 at a height of 574 ft (175 m) and features a château-like roof. It was designed by Solomon, Cordwell, Buenz and Associates and developed by the Fordham Company.
Developer Christopher T. Carley also included townhomes on the eleventh floor of the building. The townhomes face a private courtyard on top of the parking garage and each is equipped with its own elevator.
The Fordham contains some of the most expensive residential units in Chicago with penthouses occupying the top ten floors of the building.
Notable Fordham residents include actor John Cusack.
The Grant (formerly One Museum Park West) is the companion structure to One Museum Park in the Near South Side community area (neighborhood) in Chicago, Illinois, USA. It is located at the north end of the Central Station development.
The Parkshore is a 556 ft (169m) tall skyscraper in Chicago, Illinois. It was completed in 1991 and has 56 floors. Barancik Conte designed the building, which is the 53rd tallest in Chicago. The pool on the 56th floor is the highest outdoor pool in Chicago.
Three First National Plaza is a 57-story office tower in Chicago located at 70 West Madison Street. Completed in 1981, the building is one of the tallest in Chicago at 767 feet (234 m). The 1,439,369-square-foot (133,721.8 m2) building was designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill in a sawtooth shape to minimize obstructions it might cause to nearby buildings. The design also allows for thirteen corner offices on lower floors and nine corner offices in the upper regions. The exterior façade is clad in Carnelian granite and features 10-foot-wide bay windows (3.0 m) suggestive of traditional Chicago school architecture.
Three First National Plaza's nine-story atrium used to contain "Large Internal-External Upright Form", a sculpture by Henry Moore. The sculpture was removed and sold in 2016 following a remodel of the lobby. The building features pedway access, and was once connected to Chase Tower by a second-story skywalk.
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