In October 1871, a fire roared through Chicago, killing more than 200 people, destroying more than 17,500 buildings and leaving more than 90,000 homeless. It was one of the largest U.S. disasters of the 19th century. But from those ashes, a new city emerged.
After the Great Chicago Fire cooled, the city rebuilt itself with steel frames and plate glass. Architects John Wellborn Root Sr. and Daniel Burnham constructed the first skyscraper, Montauk Building, in 1883. Reliance Building came next, with the Masonic Temple shortly after. Today, Chicago is home to some of the greatest examples of modern architecture, including Willis Tower, the tallest building in North America.
Artist Anish Kapoor captures the modernity and uniqueness of Chicago architecture in his sculpture. Cloud Gate, located in the heart of Millennium Park, reflects and distorts the city’s iconic skyline on its curved stainless steel surface. Chicagoans commonly refer to the structure as “the bean.”
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