Chicago’s Secret Nooks

These buildings are showstoppers in a city once referred to as Paris on the Prairie.

As the Architecture Biennial continues through January 3rd, we outline our favorite scene-setting bricks-and-mortar marvels visitable anytime of the year.

On the 9th floor of the Harold Washington Library, the Winter Garden serves as friendly reading room with floor-to-ceiling glass and evergreen plants.

Winter Garden, Photo Credit: Chicago Public Library
Winter Garden, Photo Credit: Chicago Public Library

Designed by renowned architects Louis Sullivan and Dankmar Adler, the Auditorium Theatre is still widely regarded as having some the most perfect acoustics of any concert hall. That’s quite incredible when you consider that this National Historic Landmark was built in 1889. The show still goes on, complete with original 24-karat gold-leafed ceiling arches and floor and wall mosaics and murals by Charles Holloway and Albert Fleury. If you can’t make a show, there are historic tours.

Auditorium Theatre, Photo Credit: John Boehm and the Auditorium Theatre
Auditorium Theatre, Photo Credit: John Boehm and the Auditorium Theatre

The two corncobs on the north side of the Chicago River, Marina City, have a history that as eccentric as you would expect. When the two Bertrand Goldberg buildings were completed in 1964, they made great Don-Draper-style bachelor pads. Included within were a marina, spiral parking ramp with valet, swimming pool, gym, theater, and a 20th floor laundry room with views of the Loop. Today, you can go to House of Blues and 10Pin bowling alley.

Marina City Marina, Photo Credit: Matthew Bisanz
Marina City Marina, Photo Credit: Matthew Bisanz

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