cover of book

Chicago Skyscrapers, 1934-1986: How Technology, Politics, Finance, and Race Reshaped the City
by Thomas Leslie
University of Illinois Press, 2023
eISBN: 978-0-252-05411-2 | Cloth: 978-0-252-04495-3

From skyline-defining icons to wonders of the world, the second period of the Chicago skyscraper transformed the way Chicagoans lived and worked. Thomas Leslie’s comprehensive look at the modern skyscraper era views the skyscraper idea, and the buildings themselves, within the broad expanse of city history. As construction emerged from the Great Depression, structural, mechanical, and cladding innovations evolved while continuing to influence designs. But the truly radical changes concerned the motivations that drove construction. While profit remained key in the Loop, developers elsewhere in Chicago worked with a Daley political regime that saw tall buildings as tools for a wholesale recasting of the city’s appearance, demography, and economy. Focusing on both the wider cityscape and specific buildings, Leslie reveals skyscrapers to be the physical results of negotiations between motivating and mechanical causes.

Illustrated with more than 140 photographs, Chicago Skyscrapers, 1934–1986 tells the fascinating stories of the people, ideas, negotiations, decision-making, compromises, and strategies that changed the history of architecture and one of its showcase cities.

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