Chicago Architecture, a set on Flickr.
The architecture of Chicago has influenced and reflected the history of American architecture. The city of Chicago, Illinois features prominent buildings in a variety of styles by many important architects. Since most buildings within the downtown area were destroyed (the most famous exception being the Water Tower) by the Great Chicago Fire in 1871, Chicago buildings are noted for their originality rather than their antiquity.
Beginning in the early 1880s, architectural pioneers of the Chicago School explored steel-frame construction and, in the 1890s, the use of large areas of plate glass. These were among the first modern skyscrapers. William LeBaron Jenney’s Home Insurance Building of 1885 is often considered to be the first to use steel in its structural frame instead of cast iron, but this building was still clad in heavy brick and stone. However, the Montauk Building, designed by John Wellborn Root Sr. and Daniel Burnham, was built in 1882–1883 using structural steel. In his account of the World’s Columbian Exposition and the serial murderer H. H. Holmes, The Devil in the White City (2004), Erik Larson states that the Montauk became the first building to be called a "skyscraper" (Larson 2003: 29). Daniel Burnham and his partners, John Welborn Root and Charles Atwood, designed technically advanced steel frames with glass and terra cotta skins in the mid-1890s, in particular the Reliance Building; these were made possible by professional engineers, in particular E. C. Shankland, and modern contractors, in particular George A. Fuller.