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Key Issues

  • Early skyscrapers and other 19th-century architecture
  • Important events like the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 and the World’s Fairs of 1893 and 1933-1934
  • Historic photos and perspectives on Chicago

About This Topic

Chicago has so many amazing stories to tell.

Some of the world’s earliest skyscrapers were built here. Two World’s Fairs brought millions to the prairie to see inventions ranging from the Ferris Wheel to chocolate brownies. Great architects like Louis Sullivan, Daniel Burnham and Frank Lloyd Wright called Chicago home.

In this section of our website, we’re collecting these stories and sharing new perspectives on the past.

Latest Updates on Historic Chicago


From CAC

5 fun facts about the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893


This year marks the 125th anniversary of the “White City,” the first world’s fair held in Chicago. The fair ran from May 1 through Oct. 31 in Jackson Park on the city’s South Side, drawing in more than 27 million visitors over its six-month run.

Artifacts from 1893 World's Fair found beneath Obama center site

Chicago Tribune

Archaeologists turned up remnants of the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893, the fabled White City that drew millions of visitors to Chicago’s Jackson Park, as they scoured the site of the Obama Presidential Center and nearby parkland as part of the federal review of plans for the proposed complex.

Chicago's last manual elevator

Chicago Magazine

Through the doors of the Fine Arts Building and into the hallway, a bank of elevators sits on the left. Their dark gold doors are embossed with raised carvings of wreaths and frame dark windows that reflect the faces of a small group of people waiting for the elevator.