Look Up, Chicago! A Walking Tour of The Loop (Center)
by Doug Gelbert
There is no better way to see America than on foot. And there is no better way to appreciate what you are looking at than with a walking tour. Whether you are preparing for a road trip or just out to look at your own town in a new way, a downloadable walking tour is ready to explore when you are.
Each walking tour describes historical and architectural landmarks and provides pictures to help out when those pesky street addresses are missing. Every tour also includes a quick primer on identifying architectural styles seen on American streets.
The Loop, defined by the Chicago River to the west and north, Roosevelt Boulevard to the south and, of course, Lake Michigan to the east, is city's commercial hub (roughly some 16,000 of Chicago's nearly three million residents live here). It is the second largest central business district in the country, housing the world's biggest commodities market.
The Loop initially took its name from the circuitous route 19th century streetcars took but later became defined by the elevated train tracks that lead here from every part of the city. The Center of the Loop, containing the financial district, is where Chicago's reputation as the "Home of the Skyscraper" lies. The first tall building to be supported, both inside and outside, by a fireproof metal frame was built here in 1884. The oldest surviving skyscraper in the world is here. The tallest building in the United States has been here for almost 40 years. The skyscrapers came so fast and furious here that the building that lorded over the Chicago skyline for 35 years is now hard to see.
Our walking tour of the heart of the Loop will encounter many buildings with a "first" or an "oldest" or a "tallest" but before
we descend into the great canyons of Chicago we will start in a treasured open space whose lakefront existence can be attributed to a single man...
- Doug Gelbert, August 2011
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