City and State: Chicago, Illinois
Type of district: Local historic district
Main Intersection: Michigan Avenue and Adams Street
The 13-block stretch of Michigan Avenue south of the Chicago River mainly has buildings on its western side. This unique development pattern forms a wall of buildings that overlook Millennium Park, Grant Park, and the Art Institute of Chicago. The streetscape is one of Chicago’s most famous and picturesque as it can be easily captured in photographs from the parks’ open spaces or Lake Michigan.
The buildings now found along Michigan Avenue were constructed at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th, replacing smaller commercial structures and mansions from the mid 1800s. Because these buildings composed Chicago’s most famous skyline, many of them were highly decorated along their full heights, not just at the base as was more typical in congested downtown settings. During the decades around the turn of the 20th century, Michigan Avenue’s towers became home to luxury hotels, offices, and other commercial concerns. These uses continue today.