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CAC’s Jen Masengarb partnered with WBEZ’s Curious City to research this story in response to a question submitted by a curious citizen. Listen to the broadcast.

Sometimes, it takes a visitor to notice something unusual and special about the city you live in. That was the case for Flora Alderman, a lifelong Chicagoan who, in her retirement, leads walking tours in downtown Chicago. She turned several observations from her tour-goers into a question, and then sent it our way: Why does Chicago have so many revolving doors?

We know that Chicago and New York are the biggest markets for revolving doors, and that Chicago topped that list for decades. But the why part of Flora’s question—an explanation of how the revolving door found such a hospitable home in downtown Chicago—took a bit more digging and turned out to be even more interesting. Leave it to Jen Masengarb and the “Curious City” team at WBEZ to put the perfect spin on this intriguing question.

“I get my [sales] reps in from all around the country, and I’ll take them to downtown Chicago, and they’ll count more revolving doors in one block there than they have in their whole city.”

—Revolving door sales manager Angus MacMillan


Read the full article, featuring a diagram of the “stack effect” and the story of revolving-door inventor Theophilus Van Kannel, to find out more about why Chicago’s relationship with the revolving door has stood the test of time.