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2015 Sites

Explore the hidden gems of the city's diverse neighborhoods. Tour soaring skyscrapers, repurposed mansions, Frank Lloyd Wright masterpieces, opulent theaters, exclusive private clubs, industrial districts, private offices and breathtaking sacred spaces. Here's the 2015 list. Next year's list of OHC sites will be announced in the fall of 2016.

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After the devastation brought by the Chicago Fire of 1871, the central business district, known affectionately as “the Loop,” was rebuilt throughout the 1870s, 1880s and 1890s. This process gave birth to the skyscraper through the use of the steel structural skeleton. Today, downtown Chicago is a vibrant residential and commercial district famous worldwide for its innovative and iconic high-rises, boulevards and beautiful civic spaces such as Millennium Park.

Bridgeport / Back of the Yards

Formerly known as Hardscrabble, Bridgeport was created to house the workers who built the 1848 Illinois and Michigan Canal. The adjacent community housed the Union Stock Yards—once the world’s largest livestock processing, distribution and meatpacking facility. “Back of the Yards” housed many of the Irish and German immigrants who worked in the slaughterhouses and factories. Today, Bridgeport boasts numerous artist galleries and coffee shops, while Back of the Yards is home to some of the most cutting-edge sustainable industry and technology in Chicago.


One of the nation's most significant African-American communities sits just south of Downtown. During the "Great Migration" the area became a hotspot for jazz music. It is linked to cultural and social advances such as the Civil Rights movement, Negro League Baseball and Black History Month. Due to its affluent past, Bronzeville contains some of Chicago's most distinguished residential architecture and one of the largest concentrations of historic mansions in the city.


Evanston is Chicago's lakefront suburban neighbor to the north. It is the focal point of a group of suburban communities known as the "North Shore." Home to Northwestern University, Evanston has always retained the distinctive character of a quaint university town despite its bustling, urban central business district and a population of 75,000. Evanston is the long-time home of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union and was birthplace of the 19th-century Temperance Movement.

Garfield Park / North Lawndale

These communities are home to two of the west side's three public parks that were laid out by William Le Baron Jenney and re-designed by Jens Jensen. The former Central Park—renamed in 1881 after the assassination of President Garfield—features a gold-domed field house and the stunning Garfield Park Conservatory. South Park—renamed Douglas Park after Senator Stephen A. Douglas—sits just blocks from the massive former Sears, Roebuck & Co. complex in North Lawndale.

Gold Coast

As one of the most exclusive neighborhoods in the country, the Gold Coast has been home to Chicago’s civic and business elite for more than a century. It is particularly notable for its late 19th-century ornate gilded mansions, many of which have been repurposed as cultural institutions. The neighborhood includes works by Louis Sullivan, Frank Lloyd Wright, Dankmar Adler and Benjamin Marshall, among others.

Goose Island

Goose Island refers to both the island on the north branch of the Chicago River and to the surrounding neighborhood. William B. Ogden, the first mayor of Chicago, created the island when he cut a navigational canal just east of the Chicago River in 1850. The island has remained almost entirely industrial since it was first developed. Few Chicagoans get the chance to explore Goose Island’s unique assortment of buildings.

Hyde Park

In 1853, a real estate developer established Hyde Park as a modest commuter neighborhood with frequent train service to downtown. In the 1890s, the combined effects of annexation to the City of Chicago, the World’s Columbian Exposition and the establishment of the University of Chicago triggered a wave of development. This included large numbers of residences, commercial buildings, civic structures, sacred spaces and enhanced transportation links.

Lincoln Park

This neighborhood shares its name with the sprawling lakefront park that was renamed in 1865 to honor the late Abraham Lincoln. The neighborhood is home to several cultural and educational institutions such as the Lincoln Park Zoo, the Chicago History Museum, the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum and DePaul University. Today, Lincoln Park is one of Chicago's most densely-populated and affluent communities and it features an upscale shopping corridor along Armitage.


This famous planned community was envisioned by George M. Pullman as an all-inclusive model community to house the workers who built his popular passenger rail cars. With leadership from architect Solon Spencer Beman and landscape architect Nathan Barrett, the 1884 community was built entirely by Pullman employees. Though it was once voted "World's Most Perfect Town," reduced wages and high rents led to a worker strike in 1894 that halted rail traffic and impacted the labor movement.

South Loop / Prairie Avenue

The South Loop was the city's most fashionable residential area in the late 1800s. It featured more than 90 of the finest mansions in the city, including those of George Pullman, Marshall Field, John J. Glessner and Philip Armour. Prairie Avenue was known as "Millionaire's Row." After an industrial phase in the 20th century, the area has reverted to an upscale Chicago neighborhood that is anchored by several remaining Gilded-Age mansions.

South Shore

In the 1880s, several wealthy Chicagoans were asked to literally move their homes to make way for the 1893 World’s Fair in Jackson Park. The beautiful homes and apartment buildings that were constructed along South Shore Drive and in the Jackson Park Highlands thus created this residential neighborhood. The community is currently undergoing significant revitalization—especially on the Lake Michigan coast—including a visionary redevelopment of the former U.S. Steel Works site.

The Chicago Architecture Foundation’s partnership with the South Shore community is sponsored by Allstate Insurance Company.

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