In Chicago, while tall office buildings were slower to appear and shorter than contemporaries in New York, there were other impressive structures that dominated the skyline: grain elevators. Because none of these grain elevators survive, their history has been mostly forgotten. Thomas Leslie thoroughly explored the typology and technology of grain elevators in a recent Journal of Urban History article “Chicago’s Other Skyscrapers: Grain Elevators and the City, 1838-1957,” which he summarizes in his talk.
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 Chicago Skyscrapers, 1871-1934 (Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 2013), and is currently writing its sequel Chicago Skyscrapers, 1934-1985. A winner of the 2013 Booth Family Rome Prize in Historic Preservation and Conservation at the American Academy in Rome, he is also at work on a study of the Italian engineer and architect Pier Luigi Nervi.