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Key Issues

  • Early skyscrapers and other 19th-century architecture
  • Important events like the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 and the World’s Fairs of 1893 and 1933-1934
  • Historic photos and perspectives on Chicago

About This Topic

Chicago has so many amazing stories to tell.

Some of the world’s earliest skyscrapers were built here. Two World’s Fairs brought millions to the prairie to see inventions ranging from the Ferris Wheel to chocolate brownies. Great architects like Louis Sullivan, Daniel Burnham and Frank Lloyd Wright called Chicago home.

In this section of our website, we’re collecting these stories and sharing new perspectives on the past.

Latest Updates on Historic Chicago

2016

How Your Neighborhood Looked From 1920 to 1950

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The University of Illinois at Chicago's digital photo collections archive has about 2,300 black-and-white scans of photos of various intersections and notable outdoor areas throughout the city from the 1920s-50s.

From CAF

Buildings Decorated for the Holidays

CAF

Chicago goes all out for the holidays! Here’s a look at some of the city’s iconic architecture decorated for the holidays. These buildings bring new meaning to the phrase “deck the halls”!

From CAF

(More) Chicago Architecture at the Movies

CAF

In mid-2016, we wrote about a handful of films set in Chicago. Now, we’re back with a second look. This time, CAF has partnered with ArcLight Cinemas Chicago to bring you a curated film series, ArcLight Presents… Architecture Afternoons with CAF.

From CAF

Historic Photos from the CAF Archives

CAF

Chicago has changed a lot since its founding in the 1830s. Here’s a look at some of the city’s most iconic architecture throughout the years.

From CAF

Buildings can be Cubs fans, too

CAF

Chicago is abuzz with Cubs fanfare. Here’s a look at some of the city’s iconic architecture all decked out in Cubs gear. Whether they’re flying the W or donning baseball caps, the city’s buildings are ready for the World Series!

From CAF

Time traveling to 1908 Chicago

CAF

It’s been 108 years since the Cubs won the World Series. We take a look back at 1908 Chicago to see a glimpse of the city, its people and the architecture.

How Did The Red Line Get Under The Chicago River?

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Find out what engineers overcame in the lead-up to October 17, 1943, the day the subway under the Chicago River was completed. The story stars both a 200-foot twin-tube structure and a tunnel-boring machine known as a "biscuit cutter."

2015