Chicago skyline and views

- Sears Tower, John Hancock Center, Loop, Downtown, Navy Pier, Lincoln Park, Magnificent Mile

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Chicago is the 3rd largest city in the USA, with 2.7 million inhabitants, and almost 10 millinos in the metro area. This big city is famous for its architecture, it's tall and historic skyscrapers, second only to New York. The skyscraper was born in Chicago, so already in the early 1900s, there was a fair portion of skyscrapers, many of them remain today. Chicago and New York were almost the only cities in the world that built skyscrapers in the early 20th century.

But unlike New York, Chicago only has skyscrapers very concentrated to downtown, mostly the Loop area, and along Magnificent Mile in the Streeterville district. There are also higrises along the coastline of Lake Michigan, but that's it. Unlike many other large cities, Chicago has in typical American way, mostly lowrise buildings outside the downtown area. So many of the world's tallest buildings before the Asian building boom, actually stand on a spot that is only about 1 km² (the Loop). If you add the Streeterville/Magnificent Mile skyscraper district, the area will be merely 1.5 km². Thus, skyscraper enthusiasts and architecture lovers can easily walk around and see all these impressive, historical and world famous buildings in just one day. For many years, Chicago was much behind New York when it comes to skyscrapers, but in 1974 Sears Towers was built, taller then any other building in the world.

Along the skylines, that is concentrated to downtown, you will find gothic 1920s skyscrapers like Wrigley Bldg and Tribune Tower, 60s buildings like Marina City and John Hancock Center, 70s buildings like Sears Tower and Aon Center, postmodern 80s buildings like Franklin Center and 900 N Michigan, early 90s buildings like Two Prudential Center and 2000s buildings like the futuristic glass towers Trump Tower and Aqua. Between 1993 and 1999, and in the 1940s no skyscrapers were built due to the financial crisises at the time. There have been building booms in the 30s, in the late 60s/70s, 80s and in 2009 just before the financial crisis. Except for skyscrapers there are no actually tall structures, like TV towers or churches, in Chicago. There are many churches though, but they are really dwarfed by the much taller skyscrapers. The only church building that stands out is Chicago Temple from 1924, that is 173m tall, and the world's largest church building.

The skyline can best be viewed from the observation decks of skyscrapers like Sears Tower and John Hancock Center, from the beaches (especially from these further away from downtown), Adler Planetarium's Skyline walk where you will see the classic Chicago skyline from afar, from Chicago River when taking the Architecture River Cruise or from a ferry at Lake Michigan. Unfortunately we had only a few days, so we couldn't visit all these places, but we visited the tallest buildings, some of the beaches and the river cruise to get some good skyline shots. The also got incredible views, the best ones actually, from the plane while landing at O'Hare Airport.

Tallest buildings, with roof height: 1.Sears Tower (442m, 108 floors, now Willis Tower, b.1974) 2.Trump Tower (357m, 98 floors, 2009) 3.Aon Center (formerly Amoco Bldg, Standard Oil Bldg, 346m, 83 floors, 1973) 4.John Hancock Center (343m, 100 floors, 1969) 5.311 South Wacker (293m, 65 floors, 1990) 6.Two Prudential Plaza (279m, 1990)
Masts and spires not counted.

NOTABLE SKYSCRAPERS:

Sears Tower, a famous black office skyscraper recently renamed to Willis Tower, was the world's tallest building for more then 25 years (before Petronas Towers was built in 1998, late Taipei 101 and Burj Khalifa was built). It has 108 floors, a roof height of 442m and 527m to the top of the antenna.

Aon Center (formerly Amoco Bldg and Standard Oil Bldg), a 83-storey white marble (that has been replaced) office building from 1973 was thus only Chicago's tallets building for one year, but second tallest until 2009 when Trump Tower, 423m tall elegant mixed use glass skyscraper with a tall spire, was built right next to the Chicago River and Magnifiecent Mile.

John Hancock Center, today Chicago's 4th tallest skyscraper (344m, 2nd tallest if you count the mast, 457m), was built in 1969 and is the most prominent landmark of Magnificent Mile, with 100 floors. It was Chicago's tallest building upon completion, and the world's second tallest, for 5 years. It is black just like Sears Tower that beated the building in height in 1974, but features huge black X:es on the exterior, unlike Sears, narrows a bit to the top. Afterall it was designed by the same archicture firm, Skidmore, Owings and Merrill. As a city within the city, with apartments, stores andrestaurants (one on the 95th floor), it has been model for many following skyscraper complexes.On top there is a nice observation deck with shorter queues than Sears Tower, called 360 Chicago. There is a tilt that can be visited for the brave ones. The skyscraper also boasts the world's first sky lobby, America's highest swimming pool and the 3rd highest residence in the world. The building is named after the former insurance company John Hancock Financial.

Lake Point Tower, the only skyscraper in downtown Chicago east of Lake Shore Drive, was the world's tallest residential building upon completion in 1968. It is known for its curvy, futuristic black glass facade, with a rotating restaurant on the top. It has 70 floors and is 197m to the top. It was inspired by Mies van der Rohe's never built 1922 Berlin skyscraper, and has been used in many movies. The tower can be found at the foot to Navy Pier.

Chicago Tribune Tower (1925, inspired by French gothic cathedrals and features stones from famous places all over the world, and the moon!), Hotel Intercontinental (1929) and Mather Tower (1928) are very beautiful classic skyscrapers that can be found at Magnificent Mile, near the river. Chicago Board of Trade from 1930, Carbid & Carbon Bldg from 1929(now Hard Rock Hotel), Civic Opera Bldg from 1929 and 35 East Wacker Drive from 1927 are examples that are situated in the Loop. Most of them are situated in the Loop, many along Michigan Avenue or Chicago River.

In 1962, Marina City was built just at the river, with it's circular, corncob shaped twin towers. It is a 61-storey residential complex with a marina at the base, a significant parking garage above and apartments on the upper floors. The circular shape is unusual in Chicago.

Significant modernist skyscrapers are Two Prudential Plaza, Chase Tower (5th tallest in the world 1969, with a nice plaza and fountain at the base), the 71-storey Legacy at Millennium Park from 2010 and Aqua, a 86-storey mixed use wave shaped glass skyscraper that is one of the latest additions to the skyline (2009). 200 North Riverside Plaza, an impressive glass tower just next to the river, was recently completed during our visit (2016). Since 2009, the 62-storey One Museum Park really stands out on the southern end of the skyline. There have been 4 proposals to build a new world's tallest building or USA:s tallest building in Chicago since the early 90s, but due to financial problems all of them was cancelled. Miglin-Beitler Skyneedle was an ambitious project of a 125-storey skyscraper that was planned to be completed in 1989, and 7 South Dearborn was scheduled for completion in 2004. The latest proposal was the twisted 150-storey, 610m tall Chicago Spire, designed by Santiago Caltrava. Ground was broken in 2007, but today there is still only an empty hole at the spot. All these 2 projects would reach the max height according to FAA rules, 610m. Less ambitious projects were the Chicago World Trade Center (1990 and 1992) and Beitler Telecom Tower (2009).

Plans for the future: Wanda Vista will, if built have the 2nd tallest roof heigh after Sears Tower. At 361.5m and 93 floors it is planned to be completed in 2020, in the Streeterville district, just North of the Loop. Conservatory and Wolf Point Towers will also have more then 80 floors each, and will be 7th and 8th tallest in Chicago if they get built. At the moment (June 2016) two skyscrapers are near completion at the Wolf Point, the confluence of Chicago River's 3 branches. They are both over 220m tall and have glass facades. The 67-storey Bennett Park is u/c in the Streeterville district. Except for that, the rest of the highrises under construction are not many, and they are not really tall. So in height, Chicago is much behind most big Asian metropolises, but still has a skyline that beats most other cities, not in height, but in beauty. Anyway, let's keep the fingers crossed for a new tallest for Chicago!

Views from Lincoln Park and North Ave Beach 01 Views from Lincoln Park and North Ave Beach 02 Views from Lincoln Park and North Ave Beach 03 - Streeterville with Magnificent Mile Views from Lincoln Park and North Ave Beach 04 Views from Lincoln Park and North Ave Beach 06 - downtown Chicago from the North Views from Lincoln Park and North Ave Beach 07 Views from North Ave Beach 08 - Sears Tower, Chicago's tallest building Views from North Ave Beach 09 - Downtown from the North Views from  North Ave Beach 10 - John Hancock Center, Trump Tower, Sears Tower Views from Lincoln Park and North Ave Beach 11 Skyline from the Loop, street level 01 - Near East Side, Chicago River Skyline from the Loop, street level 03 - Aon Center, Prudential Plaza Skyline from the Loop, street level 04 - Aon Center, Prudential Plaza Skyline from the Loop, street level 05 - Randolph St skyscrapers Skyline from the Loop, street level 06 - Legacy at Millennium Park Skyline from the Loop, street level 07 - One Museum Park Skyline from the Loop, street level 08 - Grant Park, skyline and Michigan Ave Skyline from the Loop, street level 10 Skyline from the Loop, street level 11 - One Museum Park, South Loop Skyline from the Loop, street level 12 Skyline from the Loop, street level 13 Skyline from the Loop, street level 14 Skyline from the Loop, street level 15 Skyline from the Loop, street level 16 - Aon Center, (Amoco Bldg), Chicago's 3rd tallest building Skyline from the Loop, street level 17 Skyline from the Loop, street level 18 Architecture Foundation model Architecture Foundation model Skyline from the Loop, street level 21 - Marina City, IBM Bldg Skyline from the Loop, street level 24 - Historic Wrigley Bldg, Tribune Tower Skyline from the Loop, street level 25 Skyline from the Loop, street level 26 Skyline from the Loop, street level 30 Skyline from the Loop, street level 31 Skyline from the Loop, street level 32 Skyline from the Loop, street level 33 Skyline from the Loop, street level 34 Skyline from the Loop, street level 35 Skyline from the Loop, street level 36 - Chicago River, looking East Skyline from the Loop, street level 37 - the newest skyscraper construction Skyline from the Loop, street level 39 Skyline from the Loop, street level 41 Skyline from the Loop, street level 42 - Marina City Skyline from the Loop, street level 43 - Trump Tower, Magnificent Mile Skyline from the Loop, street level 44 - Wacker Drive Skyline from the Loop, street level 45 - Chicago River Skyline from the Loop, street level 46 Skyline from the Loop, street level 49 - Loews and Sheraton hotels Skyline from the Loop, street level 50 - Lake Point Tower Skyline from the Loop, street level 51 Skyline from the Loop, street level 52 - Illinois Center complex Skyline from the Loop, street level 53 - Illinois Center complex Skyline from the Loop, street level 54 Skyline from the Loop, street level 55 - S Michigan Avenue Skyline from the Loop, street level 56 - Aon Center and others Skyline from the Loop, street level 57 Skyline from Gold Coast - John Hancock Center, Elysian Skyline from Streeterville, street level 02 - Magnificent Mile Skyline from Streeterville, street level 03 - Magnificent Mile Skyline from Gold Coast - Elysian Skyline from Streeterville, street level 05  -Odl Water Tower, Magnificent Mile LEGO skyline, Water Tower Place LEGO skyline, Water Tower Place Skyline from Streeterville, street level 08 - Magnificent Mile Skyline from Streeterville, street level 09 Skyline from Streeterville, street level 10 Skyline from Streeterville, street level 12 Skyline from Streeterville, street level 13 Skyline from Streeterville, street level 14 Skyline from Streeterville, street level 15 Skyline from Streeterville, street level 16 Skyline from Streeterville, street level 17 Skyline from Streeterville, street level 18 Skyline from Streeterville, street level 21 Skyline from Grant Park 01 Skyline from Grant Park 02 Skyline from Grant Park 03 Skyline from Grant Park 04 Skyline from Grant Park 05 Skyline from Grant Park 06 Skyline from Grant Park 07 Skyline from Grant Park 08 - Buckingham Fountain and skyscrapers Skyline from Grant Park 09 - Buckingham Fountain and skyscrapers Skyline from Grant Park 10 Skyline from Grant Park 11 - Sears Tower, CNA Center Skyline from Grant Park 12 - Buckingham Fountain and skyscrapers Skyline from Grant Park 13 Skyline from Grant Park 14 Skyline from Grant Park 15 Skyline from Grant Park 16 - thunderstorm! Skyline from Grant Park 19 Skyline from Grant Park 20 - Buckingham Fountain and skyscrapers before the storm Skyline from Grant Park 21 - Buckingham Fountain and skyscrapers before the storm Views from John Hancock Center, see separate page 01 Views from John Hancock Center, see separate page 02 Views from John Hancock Center, see separate page 03 Views from John Hancock Center, see separate page 04 Skyline from Navy Pier 01 - South Loop Skyline from Navy Pier 02 Skyline from Navy Pier 04 Skyline from Navy Pier 05 - North Skyline from Navy Pier 06 - South Loop Skyline from Navy Pier 07 Skyline from Navy Pier 08 - Randolph St skyscrapers Skyline from Navy Pier 09 Skyline from Navy Pier 10 - Aon Center Skyline from Navy Pier 11 Skyline from Navy Pier 12 Skyline from Navy Pier 13 - Lake Michigan Skyline from Navy Pier 14 - Lake Michigan Skyline from Navy Pier 15 Skyline from Navy Pier 17 Skyline from Navy Pier 18 Skyline from Navy Pier 19 Skyline from Navy Pier 20 Skyline from Navy Pier 21 Skyline from Navy Pier 22 - Streeterville Skyline from Navy Pier 23 Skyline from Navy Pier 24  - Streeterville Skyline from Navy Pier 25  - Streeterville View from the L train, also see separate page 01 View from the L train, also see separate page 02 View from the L train, also see separate page 03 View from the L train, also see separate page 04 View from Sears Tower, see separate page 01 View from Sears Tower, see separate page 02 Chicago from the plane 01 Chicago from the plane 02 Chicago from the plane 03 Chicago from the plane 04 Chicago from the plane 05 Chicago from the plane 06 Chicago from the plane 07 - Downtown Chicago Chicago from the plane 08 Chicago from the plane 09 Chicago from the plane 10 - O'Hare Internatinonal Airport

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