The Human Story Behind Chicago Architecture

0 Posted by - April 7, 2016 - Louis Sullivan, Photography, Tours

The story of Chicago’s acclaimed architecture is one of innovation, technology, and design.  Take an architecture tour of Chicago and you will undoubtedly hear of steel frames, curtain walls, the first skyscrapers, and the tenets of Modernism.

But our architecture involves the human story.  And that is what brings the steel, glass, and stone to life.

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The popularity of The Devil in the White City: A Saga of Magic and Murder at the Fair that Changed America is a good example: you read of the architecture of the White City (and the sooty real city), but the story of the humans at work to bring the Fair together despite the forbidding odds is what makes it compelling.

On Sunday, April 17th, 1 PM, my great friend and great tour guide Margaret Hicks of Chicago Elevated and I will be sharing the very human story behind some of Chicago’s best architecture: that of the brilliant Louis Sullivan and the mid-20th century admirer who would dedicate his life to preserve and protect it: Richard Nickel.  On an easy walk around the Loop, we will see important extant examples of Sullivan’s work and explore Nickel’s response as it was being threatened and often lost.


Margaret and I will lead you on a two-hour route to several sites, looking at Richard Nickel’s photography along the way.  If you’d like, you can add the admission price of the Art Institute to your ticket and we’ll go see the long-lost Stock Exchange Building’s Trading Room, recreated in the museum.

Many of us are familiar with Sullivan’s career trajectory.  Likewise, many of us know Nickel’s story and its tragic end.  But Margaret and I promise you will see, hear, and experience them anew with us on April 17th.

For more information and to buy tickets.

Relics of the Past: A Sullivanesque Richard Nickel Tour

Sunday, April 17th, 2016, 1:00 PM

Walking Tour only: 1 PM – 3 PM, $30

Tour + Art Institute admission: 1 PM – 4 PM, $50

Tour start: Chicago Cultural Center, Randolph Street lobby

Tour end: Art Institute of Chicago


Let me know if you have any questions: 312.810-6609,




  • Richard Cahan April 12, 2016 - 9:15 pm Reply

    Thank you for doing this tour, Wendy. It’s long overdue. For people who want more, they can purchase Richard Nickel Dangerous Years at Books about Nickel are valuable and sell out quickly, so be sure to purchase a book soon if you want a first edition.

    • Wendy April 13, 2016 - 1:12 pm Reply

      It is an honor, Richard. Thank you for your comment and we will talk up Dangerous Years – an incredible book. Your work is the foundation of our tour content.

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