The City of Big Shoulders has always been our most quintessentially American—and world-class—architectural metropolis. In the wake of the Great Fire of 1871, a great building boom—still the largest in the history of the nation—introduced the first modern skyscrapers to the Chicago skyline and began what would become a legacy of diverse, influential, and iconoclastic contributions to the city’s built environment. Though this trend continued well into the twentieth century, sour city finances and unnecessary acts of demolishment left many previous cultural attractions abandoned and then destroyed.
Lost Chicago explores the architectural and cultural history of this great American city, a city whose architectural heritage was recklessly squandered during the second half of the twentieth century. David Garrard Lowe’s crisp, lively prose and over 270 rare photographs and prints, illuminate the decades when Gustavus Swift and Philip D. Armour ruled the greatest stockyards in the world; when industrialists and entrepreneurs such as Cyrus McCormick, Potter Palmer, George Pullman, and Marshall Field made Prairie Avenue and State Street the rivals of New York City’s Fifth Avenue; and when Louis Sullivan, Daniel Burnham, and Frank Lloyd Wright were designing buildings of incomparable excellence. Here are the mansions and grand hotels, the office buildings that met technical perfection (including the first skyscraper), and the stores, trains, movie palaces, parks, and racetracks that thrilled residents and tourists alike before falling victim to the wrecking ball of progress.
“Lost Chicago is more than just another coffee table gift, more than merely a history of the city’s architecture; it is a history of the whole city as a cultural creation.”—New York Times Book Review
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I The Island
II Time of the Temple
III The Rails Reach Out
IV Queen of the Lakes
V The Great Fire
VI A Phoenix Rising
VII An Architecture for a Democracy