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Reliance Building, Chicago

4.8
#278 of 610 in Things to do in Chicago
The Reliance Building is a skyscraper located at 1 W. Washington Street in the Loop community area of Chicago, Illinois. The first floor and basement were designed by John Root of the Burnham and Root architectural firm in 1890, with the rest of the building completed by Charles B. Atwood in 1895. It is the first skyscraper to have large plate glass windows make up the majority of its surface area, foreshadowing a design feature that would become dominant in the 20th century.
The Reliance Building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1970; and on January 7, 1976, it was designated a National Historic Landmark.
The Reliance Building is also part of the Loop Retail Historic District, a collection of over one hundred buildings that reflects the growth of State and Wabash Streets as the central retail district of Chicago. The building fell into disrepair starting in the 1940s, and was restored in the late 1990s. Since 1999, the building has housed the 122-room The Alise Chicago hotel (formerly the Hotel Burnham) and Atwood Cafe.
Commercial real estate in Chicago, Illinois boomed in the late 1870s due to the recovery from the Great Chicago Fire in 1871 and the Depression of 1873–79. In 1880, William Ellery Hale purchased a small lot in the Loop community area containing the four-story First National Bank Building, one of the few offices in downtown Chicago to partially survive the Great Fire. Hale was the founder of the Hale Elevator Company, an early producer of hydraulic elevators necessary in skyscraper design. Hale envisioned a new tower on the site, but first needed to raze the existing structure. However, its tenants did not want to terminate their leases.
To visit Reliance Building on your holiday in Chicago, and find out what else Chicago has to offer, use our Chicago trip planner .
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TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 4.5
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  • As an architecture buff, I was wowed by this 1895 skyscraper gem when I visited on a Chicago Architecture Foundation tour. I initially thought that the building -- one of the stops in "Historic Treasu...  more »
  • Saw this on a historic walking tour of Chicago. It was a first skyscraper to have as much window-space as this--70% which was very scary when this was built. Now an attractive building on a corner on ...  more »

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