Lost Chicago

David Garrard Lowe

Lost Chicago

David Garrard Lowe

With a new Preface
272 pages | 274 halftones | 8 1/2 x 11 | © 1975, 2000, 2010
Paper $35.00 ISBN: 9780226494326 Published October 2010

The City of Big Shoulders has always been our most quintessentially American—and world-class—architectural metropolis. In the wake of the Great Fire of 1871, a great building boom—still the largest in the history of the nation—introduced the first modern skyscrapers to the Chicago skyline and began what would become a legacy of diverse, influential, and iconoclastic contributions to the city’s built environment. Though this trend continued well into the twentieth century, sour city finances and unnecessary acts of demolishment left many previous cultural attractions abandoned and then destroyed.

Lost Chicago explores the architectural and cultural history of this great American city,  a city whose architectural heritage was recklessly squandered during the second half of the twentieth century. David Garrard Lowe’s crisp, lively prose and over 270 rare photographs and prints, illuminate the decades when Gustavus Swift and Philip D. Armour ruled the greatest stockyards in the world; when industrialists and entrepreneurs such as Cyrus McCormick, Potter Palmer, George Pullman, and Marshall Field made Prairie Avenue and State Street the rivals of New York City’s Fifth Avenue; and when Louis Sullivan, Daniel Burnham, and Frank Lloyd Wright were designing buildings of incomparable excellence. Here are the mansions and grand hotels, the office buildings that met technical perfection (including the first skyscraper), and the stores, trains, movie palaces, parks, and racetracks that thrilled residents and tourists alike before falling victim to the wrecking ball of progress.

Lost Chicago is more than just another coffee table gift, more than merely a history of the city’s architecture; it is a history of the whole city as a cultural creation.”—New York Times Book Review


Preface to the 2010 Edition

Preface to the first edition

I The Island

Building for a City

II Time of the Temple


Great Houses

Small Houses


III The Rails Reach Out

The Age of the Iron Horse

The Stations

The Trains

The Kingdom of Pullman

IV Queen of the Lakes

The Living City

Bunting and Arches

Places of Worship

Pleasures of Parks

Streets for People

V The Great Fire

A City in Ruins

VI A Phoenix Rising

Grand Hotels

VII An Architecture for a Democracy

American Metropolis

Monuments of Commerce

The Auditorium

The Stock Exchange


VIII Dreams of Empire

The Fairs

The Columbian Exposition 1893

A Century of Progress 1933

IX Where is Athens Now?

Places of Entertainment


Dining and Dancing

Movie Palaces

X Bad Times, Good Times
Review Quotes
Mark Smith | New York Times Book Review

Lost Chicago is more than just another coffee table gift, more than merely a history of the city’s architecture; it is a history of the whole city as a cultural creation.”

Douglas Davis | Newsweek
"Lowe’s book excels on its visual ground: page after page of gilded hotels, lovely parks, grand mansions and smashing restaurants, all vanished. . . . But there is more here than simple nostalgia, reinforced by mouth-watering photographs. There is also the real story of Chicago architecture, very different from the one we have been fed in textbooks and college survey courses."—Newsweek
For more information, or to order this book, please visit https://press.uchicago.edu
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