Oldest Architecture to Visit in Chicago, Illinois

As spring gives way in Chicago, travel escalates to see all the new and exciting attractions. The new bigger and faster ferris wheel at Navy Pier, The Sears Tower’s Skydeck let’s you stand in a glass capsule, a prominent selfie-taking spot, and of course the miles of beaches lining Lake Michigan. But Chicago is rich with history and it’s landmarks tell the story of the land of Lincoln. If you’re traveling to Chicago, be sure to check out it’s oldest landmarks pre-The Great Chicago Fire:

The Clarke House

Photo courtesy of The City of Chicago

The Clarke House was built in 1836 by Henry B. Clarke. It’s unique location sits on the two Chicago neighborhoods, the South Loop and the Prairie District, both in which you rarely see a how as decadent as this on the streets of a bustling Chicago. Tours are free and has been a staple in Chicago tourism for nearly 100 years. The house wasn’t built here however – when they moved it for the 2nd time, it got stuck on the hydraulic system during a Chicago winter for 2 weeks. The Clarke House has remained at 1827 S. Indiana Ave. since the 1970’s.

The Water Tower

Photo Courtesy of Chicago Architectural Foundation

It is pure coincidence that the Chicago Water Tower is one of the only buildings that withstood The Great Chicago Fire. The Water Tower symbolizes old Chicago and the recovery of Chicago after the fire. It was built in 1869 with limestone rocks and currently home to a museum, like most old Chicago architecture. The Water Tower stands among The Magnificent Mile, Chicago’s premiere stretch of luxury shopping, theatre and business. In 1969, this piece of Chicago history was inducted into the American Water Works Association as the first American Water Landmark in America.

The Rookery

Photo courtesy of TheRookery.com

The Rookery can be found in the Financial District in Chicago’s downtown area. Built to support booming business in Illinois, architects Daniel Burnham and John Root is a great example of the sustainability of skyscrapers post-fire. It was built with metal framing to withstand fire and other natural elements while inviting the sun on the top 2 floors. It’s seen its fair share of business, ultimately housing a library and office space.


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