Chicago experienced extraordinary growth in the 19th century serving as the primary economic link between Eastern capital and Western hinterland resources. Chicago grew as the lake, rivers, canals, and railroads transported grain, livestock, lumber, coal, steel, farm implements, consumer merchandise and people.
Rumors of canal building fueled the city first speculative land bubble in the 1830s. By 1848 Chicago opened the Illinois & Michigan canal, built its first railroad, and established the Board of Trade. Chicago’s post 1848 growth created substantial wealth and capital from commodity trade, manufacturing, and the city’s role as a national entrepôt.
Chicago burnt down in The Great Fire of 1871. While thousands of buildings were lost, the transportation infrastructure that made Chicago the fastest growing city in the world was spared. Rebuilding was slowed by the Panic of 1873 as Chicago and the nation experienced a credit system collapse due to speculation and an over extension of railroad capacity. The central business district was rebuilt in a pre-fire engineering and architectural tradition
By the 1880’s, the economy had rebounded and with it the prospects for real estate investment. Industrial growth had created a new corporate landscape. It was a good time to build company headquarters and facilities (wholesale, retail, storage, back office), to build to lease, and to build for speculation.
In the last quarter of the 19th century, Chicago would emerge as a leading architectural city. Four iconic buildings of the period were executed by firms that define the First Chicago School of Architecture: Auditorium (Adler and Sullivan), Monadnock (Burnham and Root), Second Leiter (William Le Baron Jenney), and Marquette (Holabird and Roche).
The Auditorium Building is now home to Roosevelt University. Developer Ferdinand Peck created a landmark mixed-use structure. He built a theatre and surrounded it with a hotel and rental offices to make it financially viable. The narrative of the Auditorium Building is by Alex Ramsay, Kara Emery, Justyna Johnson, and Brandon Richman.
In case you don’t get to the end of the Highlights, here are some video clips from the class presentation: Auditorium Building Video Clips