Chicago Landmarks, Architecture & Historic Structures
Our memorable 75-minute river & lake architectural cruise features exciting views and descriptions of Chicago’s most famous architecture, landmarks and history combined with an exciting ride aboard Seadog! Check out some of the great sights you may see along the way below.
Built originally as a port facility for commercial shipping and Great Lakes excursion boats, Navy Pier sits on a 25 acre peninsula. In 1995, the pier re-opened to the public after a 150-million-dollar rehabilitation.
Lake Point Tower
The unique clover shape of this residential building was designed to let strong lake winds more easily slip around its edges, reducing their direct effects on the structure. The design was based on a never produced, 18-story design by renowned architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe.
To reverse the flow of the Chicago River, a 28-mile canal was built from the south branch of the river, through the low summit and down to Lockport. It was completed in 1900.
Crews blasted over 12-million cubic yards of rock and excavated over 30-million cubic yards of each during construction of the Locks which raise and lower the water level as much as 12 feet between the Chicago River and Lake Michigan.
Chicago is home to the largest number of moving bridges of any city in the world. Most are "trunnion bascule" bridges, meaning the two leaves of the bridge are supported at the shore end by a shaft, or trunnion, and massive concealed counterweights weighing more than 3,000 tons.
This 40-story limestone-clad structure is a distinct homage to Raymond Hood's classic Art Deco RCA Tower at the heart of New York's Rockefeller Plaza. It is home to Chicago's NBC affiliate station, WMAQ TV.
Built in the style of Mies van der Rohe, this steel and glass tower stands on an expansive granite plaza that is said to cover the site where Chicago's first resident Jean Baptise pointe Du Sable built his trading cabin.
This gothic-revival structure has been a landmark since its creation in 1922. Some of the bricks and stones used in its construction were brought from the Taj Mahal, the Great Wall of China, the White House and other landmarks.
Home of the William H. Wrigley Company, the walls are constructed with six increasingly-lighter shades of terra cotta causing the ornamental top of the structure to reflect the greatest amount of light.
Inside this modern home to Chicago's 2nd largest newspaper, you will find a central hallway where you can watch massive presses printing tomorrow's edition.
The second largest structure designed by Mies van der Rohe, IBM Center is a classic study in simple rectilinear form. Beneath it's 1.6 acre granite plaza are most of the building's mechanicals as well as a rail line used to bring paper to the Sun-Times Building.
Marina City rises above the river like two 61-story ears of corn. Built in 1964, this Bertrand Goldberg design was a study in urban density. Combining private residences, office space, retail and entertainment, Marina City provided self-contained living within the greater city area.
With over 4-million square feet of office and showroom space and its own zip code, the Merchandise Mart is second in overall size only to the Pentagon Building.
Civic Art Center
Formerly known as the Civic Opera Center, this 45-story throne shaped building houses a 3,600 seat theater for the Lyric Opera Company.
333 West Wacker Drive
Designed by architects Kohn, Pederson & Fox, this dramatic buildings curved, green glass facade was designed to reflect the bend in the river.
R.R. Donnelly Building
Controversial Catalonian architect Ricardo Bofill designed the facade of the Donnelly building as a whimsical homage to classical Greek style. None of the "columns" on its illusory facade are structural.
Willis Tower (formerly known as the Sears Tower)
At 1,454 feet, it is the world's second tallest building (surpassed by the twin spires atop the Petronas Towers in Malaysia) - however, it has the world's highest occupied floor.
Leo Burnett Building
Designer Kevin Roche won the 1982 Pritzker Architecture award for this granite, steel and glass tower. Inside you will find an impressive colonnade of 5-foot-wide, 45-foot-high, granite-sheathed pillars surrounded by gold colored mosaics.
The John G. Shedd Aquarium
It is one of the world's largest displays of aquatic life, with some 7,500 living specimens. The Oceanarium contains a 3-million gallon habitat for beluga whales and dolphins. The structure was built on land that had been claimed from the lake in part with fill and debris from the construction of the neighboring Field Museum.
The AON Center, designed by Edward Durell Stone, was built in 1974 and had been the tallest marble-clad structure in the world. Unable to withstand Chicago's extreme temperatures and high winds, the white marble panels have recently been replaced by speckled granite.
The sloping top provides two-story atrium offices on the top ten floors.
The John Hancock Center
At 1,127 feet, the giant "X" beams which criss-cross the structure help the building cope with Chicago's high-wind conditions.