Chicago is the third-most populous city in the United States and has seen exponential growth since it was originally founded by Jean Baptiste Point du Sable. in the 1780s and its incorporation as the “City of Chicago” in 1837.
The metropolitan area of the city is home to nearly 10 million people, and countless fantastic skyscrapers have been built along the shores of Lake Michigan, resulting in one of the most astounding skylines you’ll ever come across.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at some of the most famous skyscrapers in Chicago, one of the multiple reasons that the city is visited by nearly 60 million tourists every year.
1. Willis Tower
The Willis Tower was originally known as the Sears Tower as it served as the headquarters of the Sears retail company upon completion in 1974. It was only renamed Willis Tower following a lease contract by the Willis Group in 2009.
It’s not only one of the most famous skyscrapers in Chicago but also the tallest one. It stands 1,450 feet (442 meters) tall, a height that also makes it the third-tallest skyscraper in the United States after One World Trade Center and the Central Park Tower, both skyscrapers in New York City.
2. Tribune Tower
While the Sears Tower was originally built to serve as the headquarters of the Sears Company, the Tribune Tower was built to serve as the headquarters of one of the most popular newspapers in the city, the Chicago Tribune.
This neo-Gothic structure was completed between 1923 and 1925 and is located right in the heart of the city, just north of the DuSable Bridge which is one of the most famous bridges in Chicago. Pioneer Court is located just to its south and was the location where the first non-indigenous settler, Jean-Baptiste Point DuSable built his home.
3. John Hancock Center
The John Hancock Center has been officially known as 875 North Michigan Avenue since 2018 and is another extremely tall skyscraper in Chicago. It stands 1,12 feet (344 meters) tall and features exactly 100 floors.
The most popular attraction inside this incredible tower is the observation deck. This is located on the 95th floor at a height of 1,030 feet (314 meters). It provides some of the most incredible 360-degree views of the city and its surroundings.
4. Wrigley Building
The Wrigley Building is located on the opposite side of Michigan Avenue from the Tribune Tower, right in the historical heart of Chicago. It’s another historical building that was built to become the headquarters of a company, the Wrigley Company, a famous manufacturer of chewing gum.
The complex consists of two buildings that are interconnected with each other by two tunnels. The south tower is significantly higher than the north tower as it features a magnificent bell tower that was inspired by the Giralda in Seville, Spain.
5. Aon Center
The Aon Center is one of the most beautiful skyscrapers in Chicago, mainly because of its modern design that resembles the destroyed Twin Towers in New York City. The structure was completed in 1974 and was originally known as the Standard Oil Building.
The building reaches a height of 1,136 feet (346 meters) which still makes it the 4th-tallest building in Chicago today. The skyscraper is located just north of Millennium Park and forms an amazing background of the Jay Pritzker Pavillion, a popular concert venue.
6. St. Regis Chicago
One of the skyscrapers in Chicago that surpassed the Aon Center in height is a tower called St. Regis Chicago (formerly known as the Wanda Vista Tower). This supertall skyscraper was only completed in 2020, features 101 floors, and stands 1,198 feet (365 meters) tall.
This magnificent structure was designed by Jeanne Gang, a female architect based in Chicago. The remarkable record it holds is that it’s the highest building in the world that was designed by a woman. It’s the third-tallest skyscraper in Chicago today as well.
7. Aqua Tower
The Aqua Tower is yet another fascinating structure that was designed by Jeanne Gang in collaboration with her studio called “Studio Gang Architects.” The design and execution of this skyscraper have been praised all over the world.
The tower stands 859 feet (262 meters) tall and was at the time the highest building in the world designed by a woman. The design of the tower focuses on sustainability, especially maximizing solar shading and implementing a water-efficient irrigation system
8. Trump Tower Chicago
The Trump International Hotel and Tower is located right in the historical heart of Chicago next to the main branch of the Chicago River, just west of the DuSable Bridge. It stands 1,388 feet (423.2 meters) tall and was briefly the building with the highest apartment in the world until it was surpassed by Burj Khalifa in Dubai.
It was named after Donald Trump who initially claimed it would become the tallest building in the world, but these pans were adjusted following the 9/11 attacks in New York City. The main feature inside the tower is a hotel with 339 rooms that opened its doors in 2009.
9. Two Prudential Plaza
Two Prudential Plaza is another remarkable skyscraper located in the Loop area of Chicago, just west of the Aon Center and just north of Millennium Park. It stands 995 feet (303 meters) and has a distinctive shape that makes it stand out in the already crowded Chicago skyline.
The building also held a remarkable record upon completion in the year 1990 as it was the tallest reinforced concrete building in the world. Because it’s only 995 feet tall, it’s the closest building below the 1,000 feet mark.
10. NEMA Chicago
NEMA Chicago has gone by a couple of different names throughout its relatively short history as it has been called 1210 South Indiana, 113 East Roosevelt, and One Grant Park as well. It features 76 floors and stands 896 feet (273 meters) tall.
What’s remarkable about NEMA is not only that it was designed by renowned architect Rafael Viñoly, but also that it’s the tallest residential skyscraper featuring rental apartments in the city. The amazing-looking skyscraper feature not less than 800 apartments, an incredible number.
11. 900 North Michigan
900 North Michigan was completed in 1989 and was the second mall located within a skyscraper on the magnificent Mile of Chicago. The mall that is housed here is referred to as “900 North Michigan Shops” and its main focus is upscale shops.
The rear of the building is occupied by Bloomingdale’s one of the largest retailers in the United States. because of this, it’s also sometimes referred to as the “Bloomingdale Building.” The tower stands 871 feet (265 meters) tall and is clad in distinctive limestone.
12. One Museum Park
One Musem Park is a skyscraper located right next to NEMA and forms an integral part of the Central Station Development area on the South Side of Chicago. It’s also the second-tallest skyscraper in this area.
The tower stands 726 feet (221 meters) tall which makes it the third-tallest skyscraper in Chicago that features nothing more than apartments. Numerous amazing attractions in Chicago, including Soldier Field, the Adler Planetarium, and the Field Museum, are located just walking distance away, making it a great place to live as well.
13. Carbide & Carbon Building
The Carbide & Carbon Building is one of the multiple skyscrapers in Chicago that was completed just before the start of the Great Depression in 1929. The Art Deco building is located on Michigan Avenue and stands 503 feet (153 meters) tall.
One of the most remarkable facts about this iconic landmark building is that it was completely transformed between 2001 and 2004. Since the renovation project was completed it was turned into the Hard Rock Cafe’s Hard Rock Hotel in Chicago. That’s quite a change from its original purpose which was to serve as the headquarters of a chemical company, don’t you think?
14. Chicago Board of Trade Building
The Chicago Board of Trade Building was completed shortly after the Wall Street Market Crash in 1929 as it opened its doors in the year 1930. This makes it all the more remarkable that it served its purpose as a trading facility until the year 2012 when it was sold to various real estate companies.
The Chicago Board of Trade already had a building in this location since 1885 which was the tallest structure in the city until 1895. The current building was constructed following the demolishing of the old building and became the tallest building in Chicago until 1965 itself at a height of 604 feet (184 meters).
15. Water Tower Place
Water Tower Place is the name of a large shopping complex that features a tall skyscraper as well. It’s located just south of the John Hancock Center and was named after the Chicago Water Tower, a landmark structure just nearby.
The amazing structure is much more than just a skyscraper as it also features a mall with a floor area of 758,000 square feet (70,400 square meters), a theater, condominiums, and the Ritz-Carlton Hotel featuring 435 rooms. The skyscraper stands 859 feet (262 meters) tall and the entire complex opened in 1976.