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Chicago Skyscrapers, 1934-1986: How Technology, Politics, Finance, and Race Reshaped the City

Chicago Skyscrapers, 1934-1986: How Technology, Politics, Finance, and Race Reshaped the City

Current price: $44.95
Publication Date: June 20th, 2023
University of Illinois Press
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From skyline-defining icons to wonders of the world, the second period of the Chicago skyscraper transformed the way Chicagoans lived and worked. Thomas Leslie’s comprehensive look at the modern skyscraper era views the skyscraper idea, and the buildings themselves, within the broad expanse of city history. As construction emerged from the Great Depression, structural, mechanical, and cladding innovations evolved while continuing to influence designs. But the truly radical changes concerned the motivations that drove construction. While profit remained key in the Loop, developers elsewhere in Chicago worked with a Daley political regime that saw tall buildings as tools for a wholesale recasting of the city’s appearance, demography, and economy. Focusing on both the wider cityscape and specific buildings, Leslie reveals skyscrapers to be the physical results of negotiations between motivating and mechanical causes.

Illustrated with more than 140 photographs, Chicago Skyscrapers, 1934–1986 tells the fascinating stories of the people, ideas, negotiations, decision-making, compromises, and strategies that changed the history of architecture and one of its showcase cities.

About the Author

Thomas Leslie is an architect, educator, and author. His books include Beauty's Rigor: Patterns of Production in the Work of Pier Luigi Nervi and Chicago Skyscrapers, 1871–1934.

Praise for Chicago Skyscrapers, 1934-1986: How Technology, Politics, Finance, and Race Reshaped the City

"An ambitious history that’s less the usual roundup of Loop landmarks than an architecture junkie’s dense wandering intriguingly away from downtown." --Chicago Tribune

"A magisterial account of our city's high-rise foundations." --Newcity

"An impressive and important book that ranks with other works providing the deepest insights into what makes Chicago, Chicago. . . . Chicago Skyscrapers, 1934-1986 is one of those rare books about significant architectural structures that looks beyond design controversies, elegant descriptions, and engineering details and examines the forces behind their creation." --Third Coast Review

“A worthy successor to the pathbreaking work of Carl Condit, this deeply researched volume explores the architectural design, structure and equipment of tall buildings in Chicago from the 1930s into the 1980s in their full and complex relationship to changing economic, social, and political realities in the city.”--Robert Bruegmann, author of Art Deco Chicago: Designing Modern America