This history of Chicago’s skyscrapers begins in the key period of reconstruction after the Great Fire of 1871 and ends a chapter in 1934 amid the Great Depression that brought construction to a standstill.
Thomas Leslie covers these years in his book Chicago Skyscrapers, detailing building methods, foundation materials, framing structures, and electric lighting, and other technical innovations. Leslie also considers how the city’s infamous political climate contributed to its architecture, as building and zoning codes were often disputed by shifting networks of rivals, labor unions, professional organizations, and municipal bodies.
Thomas Leslie is the Morrill Pickard Chilton Professor in Architecture at Iowa State University, where he researches the integration of building sciences and arts both historically and in contemporary practice. He is the author of Louis I. Kahn: Building Art, Building Science (2005), Chicago Skyscrapers, 1871-1934 (2013) and, with Jason Alread and Robert Whitehead, Design-Tech: Building Science for Architects (2014).