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Brightspark Blog

May 25, 2016 | 8:00 AM

5 Ways to Discover Chicago's Architectural History

Written by Brightspark Travel

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As the hub of Midwestern culture and industry, Chicago has had major influences on American architecture throughout history. From the Chicago School of Architecture’s first skyscrapers to the prairie-style homes of Frank Lloyd Wright, the buildings in this city have been known to stun. Want to learn more about them? Visit the Windy City for the chance to participate in these activities:

1. Architecture Cruise

Hop aboard a boat with a Chicago architecture historian, and make your way down the Chicago River. With some of the most famous buildings towering over you on both sides, you’ll learn about the city’s architectural heritage and the stories surrounding buildings like the Merchandise Mart and Trump Tower.

2. Chicago Marquee Theatre Tour

When this famed State Street theatre opened back in 1921, it was the most lavish movie palace in the entire country. Designed in the French Baroque style, it has hosted grand performances by everyone from Benny Goodman to Alicia Keys. Groups can tour this venue to learn about how Chicago’s performance history played into its architectural history.

Explore Educational Trips

3. Chicago History Museum

Within this comprehensive museum, you’ll find the Charles F. Murphy Architectural Study Center, which boasts one of the Windy City’s largest collections of architectural drawings, models, manuscripts and building fragments. From bungalows to skyscrapers, you’ll see how buildings come together to make Chicago the architectural icon it is today.

4. Pilsen Mural Tour

Chicago is as much about neighborhoods as it is about skyscrapers, and you won’t find any neighborhood architecture more colorful than that in Pilsen. The neighborhood’s buildings were built by original Czech and Eastern European residents back in the 19th century. But they have since been decorated with colorful murals that tell the history of current Hispanic residents.

5. Willis Tower SkyDeck

When the Sears tower was completed back in 1971, it was the world’s tallest building. To this day, it still fills onlookers with awe in the same way it did nearly half a century ago. Travel up to the 103rd floor for breathtaking views that extend over four states.

Do you love skyscrapers like the Willis Tower? Take our quiz to see what you know the world’s tallest buildings.

Topics: Chicago

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