Private Architecture Boat Tour Chicago

Chicago Building Series: 5 Most Exquisite Buildings on Chicago River You Should Know

Visit these buildings and more aboard our private architecture boat tour Chicago!

Given the ingenuity involved in reversing the Chicago river, it’s not surprising that it’s lined with an impressive selection of buildings. Come aboard one of our private architecture boat tour Chicago to learn all about the stately buildings. After extreme weather threatened Chicago’s water supply in 1885, bold moves were made to avoid another catastrophe. In 1887, the Illinois General Assembly decided to utilize cutting-edge civil engineering to reverse the flow of the Chicago River. Despite sounding unfathomable, taking water from Lake Michigan and directing it into the Mississippi River was actually a viable solution.

This was undoubtedly one of the most daring projects at the time, and its completion had a profound impact on America. Utilizing a series of canal locks and the newly completed Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, the river was reversed in 1900. Through a 156-mile-long system of canals, the Chicago River connected the Great Lakes to the Mississippi River Basin. This created a path to the Gulf of Mexico, which revolutionized North American trade. In 1999, this system was named “Civil Engineering Monument of the Millennium” by the American Society of Civil Engineers.

Throughout the 20thcentury, this burst of innovation spilled over into the construction of skyscrapers along the Chicago River. Today it’s home to some of the most breathtaking buildings in North America, experience them with a private architecture boat tour Chicago. These monuments of human ingenuity attract millions of tourists every year, with private architecture boat tours being the best way to encounter them. To highlight the main attractions, we compiled a list of the most exquisite buildings on the Chicago River. Each entry is explained in-depth on our private architecture boat tours Chicago, so prepare to get a glimpse of their rich history!

Epic Buildings on the Chicago River

Building #1: Merchandise Mart –Against all odds, this massive plot of land evolved into one of Chicago’s most impressive landmarks. Formerly a Native American trading post, this strategic position on the Chicago River became home to the Wells Street Station. It’s abandonment in 1911 for a better positioned train station set the stage for one of the most daring construction projects of the 20thcentury. In 1927, Marshall Field & Co. unveiled their plans to construct the largest building in the world.

Armed with a bold plan by architect Ernest Graham, the project commenced in 1928. While the amount of manpower used was staggering, the sheer volume of materials was even more impressive. Utilizing 5,700 workers, 29 million bricks, 4 million yards of concrete and 60,000 tons of steel, the project was completed in a year and a half. Boasting an impressive 7.5 miles of corridors and 4,000,000 square feet of floor space, the Merchandise Mart covers two entire square blocks. It was so large that it had its own ZIP code (60654) until 2008.

On top of sealing Chicago’s reputation as an innovator in construction, it also helped the Kennedy family rise to power. In 1945, the Kennedy family purchased the Merchandise Mart for $13 million. This was a steal, since the building cost over $26 million to construct. Over the years, revenues generated by this shrewd investment were used to fund JFK’s political campaign. This behemoth building helped nominate one of our most revered U.S. presidents, which is why it can’t be ignored by any American! Come aboard our private architecture boat tour Chicago to experience Art on the Mart!

Building #2: Marina City –This city within a city was created in 1963 when two of the biggest construction companies at the time teamed up. Consisting of two 65-story towers, a 10-story office building and a saddle-shaped auditorium, this building complex sparked an American residential renaissance. It was the first post-war urban high-rise residential complex in America. Its innovative use of mixed residential and office spaces with a parking base became the primary model for America’s urban development. Despite originally being created to stop white flight; it unintentionally became the blueprint for inner-cities around the world. Seeing the buildings up close during a private architecture boat tour Chicago is simply the best way to experience its revolution.

Building #3: Aqua –This 82-story skyscraper we visit during a private architecture boat tour Chicago adds a delightfully modern touch to Chicago’s classic skyline. Designed by Studio Gang Architects and costing $300 million, this is the biggest project ever awarded to an American firm that was led by a woman. When it was completed in 2009, it was given the Emporis Skyscraper award for skyscraper of the year. What makes this design so memorable is its uneven balconies that stretch up to 12 feet. On top of giving the exterior a fluid impression, these balconies provide breathtaking views of the Chicago River.

Building #4: Trump Hotel –No matter what your political preferences are, there’s no denying the beauty of this looming skyscraper that we visit during private architecture boat tours Chicago. While it was originally scheduled to exceed 1,500 feet and become the tallest building in the world, these dimensions were scaled down after 9/11. To reduce the risks of similar attacks, the building only rose to 1,388 feet. This provided plenty room for retail space, hotel rooms, condominiums and a parking garage. It eventually became home to multiple high-end clients, including Derrick Rose and McDonald’s President Don Thompson.

Before the construction of the Burj Khalifa, the Trump Tower was the highest residence in the world. Its 98 stories house 2,600,000 square feet of floor space, 486 luxury residential condominiums and a 339-room hotel. The Trump Tower has received a 5-star Forbes Travel Guide rating and featured some of the most revered restaurants in Chicago. It has survived multiple controversies, and embodies the unbreakable entrepreneurial spirit that makes Chicago unique.

Building #5: 333 West Wacker Drive –This 36-floor high-rise office building steals the show with its gorgeous reflection of the Chicago River. Designed by Kohn Pederson Fox Associates, it marks the division between North and West Whacker Drive. Ever since it was unveiled in 1983, it has been adored by locals and tourists alike. We love pointing out its luminous presence during private architecture boat tours Chicago. After being featured in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, it was eventually named “Favorite Building” by Chicago Tribune readers in 1995. This marvelous project has been selected as one of the Illinois 200 Great Places, so don’t miss it on your next charter!

Contact us today to book your private architecture boat tour Chicago! We promise you will leave stunned by the history and views of these stately buildings.