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Chicago Skyscrapers, 1934-1986

Chicago Skyscrapers, 1934-1986: How Technology, Politics, Race, and Finance Re-Shaped a City
Author: Thomas Leslie

Chicago Skyscrapers, 1934-1982 will be the first book to explain the iconic high-rises of the “Second Chicago School” in technical, political, economic, and cultural contexts.  It will show how the city developed its unique approach to high-rise design and construction, and how the well-known steel skyscrapers of the Loop were matched by equally innovative, but rarely discussed, concrete skyscrapers throughout the city’s residential areas.  Why Chicago?  Why did such innovation and energy concentrate on a city that, in 1951, was the subject of a scathing series of articles in The New Yorker intended as an obituary for the “Second City?”  What role did the city’s racial politics have in building up the Loop, and in concentrating African-American neighborhoods into the notorious public housing skyscrapers on the south and west sides?  How did changing technologies and material availabilities change labor?  And, what influence did industry and commerce have in the scale and makeup of these buildings’ construction?  This book will seek answers to these questions in the built fabric of the skyscrapers themselves, as well as in the technical and popular press of the era.

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