With the inaugural Chicago Architecture Biennial set to officially begin this weekend, the city's architectural legacy is poised to take center stage. Visitors and locals will be reminded of Chicago's role in the advancement of modern design, and how the Great Fire of 1871 wiped out thousands of buildings, only to set the stage for redevelopment and a massive comeback. Architects and developers from all over the country came to Chicago to take advantage of the building boom, leading to collaborations that paved the way for the Chicago School of Architecture, as well as innovations that would support some of the world's first high-rise buildings.
Chicago has taken on myriad architectural styles over the last century and a half, and nearly all of them can be seen during a stroll downtown. Curbed contributor Shawn Ursini begins an exploration of the city's historic buildings this week with a walk down Dearborn Street, a main artery in the city's downtown Loop district and a timeline of the built environment. Beginning at Congress Parkway, just north of the historic Printer's Row district, numerous projects and landmarks on this single street highlight the beginnings of the city's skyscraper boom. For any visitors, it's a perfect way to obtain a quick overview of the breadth and depth of the city's architectural treasures. For residents, consider it a chance to rediscover your city (or simply a victory lap).