Birth of the Skyscraper

Discover some of the most significant skyscrapers from the period of architectural experimentation that followed the Great Chicago Fire of 1871

Birth of the Skyscraper

Although Chicago today is recognized as the cradle of the skyscraper, the situation was very different during industrial Chicago before the fire. On this 2.5-hour walking tour, the guide will take you through the most historic district of the city to learn about the architectural details of some of the first skyscrapers and the people that transformed Chicago into the architectural leader of the United States.

The Birth of the Skyscraper tour begins at 122 South Wabash Avenue, next to Sugar Bliss Patisserie, and ends at Buckingham Fountain, in the heart of Grant Park.

An opportunity that arose from a tragedy

During this walking tour we will help you understand what Chicago was like before and immediately after the Great Fire of 1871. Your guide will paint a picture of what the city used to look like and how it has changed due to this historic event. We will tell you about the rebuilding stage and the greatest achievements that arose as a result of the construction boom that caused Chicago to rise from the ashes of the Great Fire. We will also talk about the first inhabitants and explorers of the region who glimpsed a promising future for the port of Chicago, the German immigrants and the last men’s bar, the impact that the 1893 World’s Colombian Exposition had and why it has been named that, and the investment for the reconstruction of the city which allowed Chicago to become one of the largest cities in the world.

Discover the first skyscrapers and their architecture

In this tour about the Birth of the Skyscraper, you will learn why the skyscrapers had to be located in a very limited central area. Find out also what were the innovations for tall buildings that led to the creation of the modern skyscraper. You will hear about the architectural features that developed in the commercial architecture of Chicago in the 1880s and 1890s, known as the Chicago School. In addition, learn about various architectural styles from different eras, from the tallest building with load-bearing walls to the purest example of modernist style, all living together, side by side in a harmonious way. Discover the interior of several emblematic skyscrapers that tell a unique story about the architect and his architecture in the historical, economic and geopolitical context of the time.

Visit the interior of the buildings

The guide will take you to visit the interior of historic buildings built in the late 19th and early 20th centuries which will transport you to another world. We will take you to visit the site where the first skyscraper in the world was erected and we will talk about the pioneer who paved the way for a group of architects that would be known as the Chicago School. We visit the interior of the oldest skyscraper in Chicago, tell you about its curious past and we’ll show you the only work that survives in downtown Chicago by architect Frank Lloyd Wright, advocate of organic architecture. We will also take you to discover magnificent Art Deco lobbies with its exquisite crafts and materials, including a visit to the Chicago Board of Trade, the oldest financial futures market in the world. We end the tour at Buckingham Fountain, and tell you about its inspiration and metaphorical representation.


Wednesday 10:00

Friday 10:00


Adult: $15

Child (up to 13 years old): Free

Average duration: 2.5H

Where?: 122 South Wabash Avenue, next to Sugar Bliss Patisserie

Languages available: Spanish

Although the tour usually includes the sites and stories mentioned and lasts an average of 2.5 hours, the tour and the order of the stops may vary depending on weather conditions, holidays, opening and closing times of each place and / or other unforeseen circumstances or for organizational purposes.

The Birth of the Skyscraper tour ends at Buckingham Fountain in Grant Park

Wear comfortable shoes, the tour covers a distance of about 2 km on foot

Please bring a bottle of water on warm days since we will not be stopping along the way except for a bathroom break

It is not wheelchair accessible

Not suitable for baby strollers


The Birth of Skyscraper tour begins at 122 South Wabash Avenue


Learn about the period of architectural experimentation and the first skyscrapers

Stroll through the most historic part of the city

Admire the beautiful interiors of historic skyscrapers from the 19th and early 20th centuries

Hear about the group of architects known as the Chicago School

Visit one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s masterpieces

Take photos of one of the largest fountains in the world, the Buckingham Fountain


Each of our tours will help you delve into the various aspects and specific areas of downtown Chicago at an affordable price.

Tours are rain or shine unless we have to cancel due to extreme weather or unforeseen circumstances, in which case we will notify you of the cancellation by email and / or WhatsApp to the number and email address provided during the reservation. Book online to guarantee your place on our guided tours.

Participation in Nexo Chicago tours is strictly voluntary. Nexo Chicago Tours and the guides that provide the tours will not be responsible for any physical injury, damage or loss of personal items during the tours. Just be careful and follow the instructions of the guides. The guides reserve the right to deny participation to any person, for any reason, in any of the tours.

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$15 USD

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Birth of the Skyscraper

Discover some of the most significant skyscrapers from the period of architectural experimentation that followed the Great Fire of 1871.