A Weird Holiday Worth Celebrating: National Skyscraper Day
Every day it seems like there is another weird holiday popping up on my Facebook feed. They are starting to get very niche, as well. Last month there was Kiss and Make Up Day, Wiggle Your Toes Day and Toasted Marshmallow Day (not to be confused with regular marshmallow day). But tomorrow is a day I can REALLY get behind: National Skyscraper Day, a weird holiday worth celebrating! I lived in Chicago for five years, and during that time I worked as a tour guide. I got to learn about all the amazing architectural history that Chicago has to offer. I completely fell in love not only with the city, but especially with the buildings. I love big cities, but there was something about walking around downtown Chicago (“The Loop”) that really inspired me. So to celebrate National Skyscraper Day — here are my . . .
4. The Carbide & Carbon Building
Built in 1929, the Carbide and Carbon building was designed and built by the Burnham Brothers and is also Art Deco. It was originally home to the Union Carbide and Carbon Company but is now the Hard Rock Hotel. The Burnham Brothers were the sons of prominent architect and city planner (and all around amazing dude) Daniel Burnham. My favorite part of this building is its uncanny resemblance to a champagne bottle: dark green on the bottom with gold on the top.
3. The John Hancock Center
The John Hancock Center is a 100-story, 1,127-foot-tall skyscraper that is home to condos, offices, an observation deck and one of the best restaurants in Chicago, The Signature Room. It was designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and was completed in 1968. One of the most notable design features of the building are the Xs built into the exterior, which is actually a structural aspect that allows it to achieve its height! Cool AND functional! Fun facts: Comedian Chris Farley lived in one of the condos and the building was featured in the film Poltergeist III.
2. Monadnock Building
Burnham & Root designed the northern half of the Monadnock in 1891, and Holabird & Roche designed and constructed the southern half in 1893. It is the tallest commercial iron-frame building with load-bearing, masonry walls ever constructed, and the year it was completed, it was the tallest office building in the world. It also has beautiful staircases inside that showcase the first structural use of aluminum in building construction. I love this building simply because of how crazy it was for Burnham & Root to build it at that time in history. It’s interior has been restored and it’s home to a really cool coffee shop, some stores and a barbershop, and it’s really just wonderful to walk through.
And my top skyscraper is . . .
1. The Rookery
Designed by my favorite architectural firm in 1888, the Rookery is considered to be Daniel Burnham and John Root’s masterpiece building. At 12 stories tall, it's the oldest standing high-rise in Chicago. The site used to be home to the old City Hall building, and was nicknamed the Rookery because of the crows that hung out on the exterior walls. The light court on the interior is breathtaking and is the focal point of the whole place. Frank Lloyd Wright redesigned the Rookery in 1905 after having met Burnham and Root when he was working as a young assistant for Adler and Sullivan (another major Chicago architectural firm). If you’re ever in Chicago, you MUST go to the Chicago Architecture Foundation and take their tour of it. (And yes, while technically not considered a "skyscraper" by today's standards, it most certainly was one when it was built.)
Top 5 Favorite Chicago SkyscrapersFirst, to nerd out a little bit more, the exact definition of a “skyscraper” is a habitable building more than 14 floors, but the term is most often used for buildings more than 492 feet. Skyscrapers are sometimes called "high rises." Any building above 984 feet is classified as a super tall building and any beyond 1,969 feet is mega tall.
Image via Wikipedia5. Chicago Board of Trade Building This stands at the very end of La Salle Street, which makes it, ascetically speaking, one of the most beautiful streets in Chicago. It is home to the Board of Trade and is one of the tallest Art Deco buildings in the world. It was finished in 1930 and was designed by Chicago firm Holabird & Root. Although it was commissioned for the Board of Trade, it was actually first home to the Quaker Oats Company. One of my favorite aspects of the building is the statue on top, which is a 31-foot-tall aluminum statue of the Roman Goddess of Grain, Ceres. This is in reference to CBOT’s history as a commodities market. Fun fact: La Salle Street was used for a very cinematic scene in Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight” involving a big rig. Check it out:
image via Wikipedia