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1885 First Skyscraper

The Home Insurance Building, erected at the northeast corner of LaSalle and Adams streets (on the site now occupied by the west portion of the Field building), is called the first skyscraper.

Nine stories and one basement were completed in 1885. Two stories were added in 1891. The architect, Major William Le Baron Jenney, created the first load-carrying structural frame, the development of which led to the "Chicago skeleton" form of construction and the big skyscrapers of later years.

In this building, a steel frame supported the entire weight of the walls instead of the walls themselves carrying the weight of the building which was the usual method. After Jenney's accomplishment the sky was truly the limit so far as building was concerned. His first skyscraper revolutionized urban life because with higher buildings larger numbers of people could live and work in limited areas.

A Chronological History of Chicago: 1673-
Compiled by Chicago Municipal Reference Library, City of Chicago
Updated by Municipal Reference Collection, Chicago Public Library

Last Updated: 08/97

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