Rookery Building, Chicago

Rookery Building, Chicago

The Rookery Building is a cornerstone of Chicago’s rich architectural heritage, showcasing the work of the city's two great design architects, John Wellborn Root and Frank Lloyd Wright. The building was designated a Chicago Landmark in 1972 and was added to the list of National Historic Landmarks in 1975.

After the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, a temporary city hall was built at the corner of LaSalle and Adams Streets around a water storage tank. The tank was a hangout for crows, and the locals called it "the Rookery." This was a reference to the birds and also a reference to corrupt politicians in the building.

In 1888 architects Daniel Burnham and John Wellborn Root completed their 11-story commercial building at the Rookery site and named it "Rookery." John Wellborn Root carved a pair of rooks into the Romanesque main entrance on La Salle Street.

The Rookery was truly transitional with elevators, fireproofing, and electric lighting. John W. Root planned to have as much natural light in the building as possible. He developed a hollow square plan. Offices in the building would be lighted from the outside or the central two-story light court with its glass-paneled ceiling and grand staircases.

In 1905 Burnham commissioned Frank Lloyd Wright to renovate the interiors, especially the "light court." Wright removed Root's ironwork and replaced it with Carrara marble incised with gilded arabesque designs. The Rookery became a white and gold commercial center.

The double set of ornate stairs winds upward. A wrap-around balcony climbing up to the second floor creates the sense of "clockwork." The facade of the Rookery is of marble, terra cotta, and brick. The overall style is Romanesque, featuring touches of Roman Revival and Queen Anne. A second renovation in 1931 included Art Deco details.

The Frank Lloyd Wright Trust conducts tours Mondays through Fridays. Inside Chicago has daily walking tours of the Rookery. The Rookery has been a locale for films such as Home Alone 2 and The Untouchables.

Want to visit this sight? Check out these Self-Guided Walking Tours in Chicago. Alternatively, you can download the mobile app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from iTunes App Store or Google Play. The app turns your mobile device to a personal tour guide and it works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

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Rookery Building on Map

Sight Name: Rookery Building
Sight Location: Chicago, USA (See walking tours in Chicago)
Sight Type: Attraction/Landmark
Guide(s) Containing This Sight:

Walking Tours in Chicago, Illinois

Create Your Own Walk in Chicago

Create Your Own Walk in Chicago

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Chicago Old Town Walking Tour

Chicago Old Town Walking Tour

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Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.6 Km or 1.6 Miles
Chicago Navy Pier Walking Tour

Chicago Navy Pier Walking Tour

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Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.0 Km or 0.6 Miles
Loop District Architecture Walking Tour

Loop District Architecture Walking Tour

Chicago features an outstanding architectural legacy, having long been connected with some of architecture's most important names: Frank Lloyd Wright, Louis Sullivan, Mies van der Rohe, Holabird & Root, and others. The multi-layered Loop District, in particular, offers an extensive number of Chicago’s famous architectural “must-sees” – from modern skyscrapers to historic buildings...  view more

Tour Duration: 3 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.6 Km or 2.9 Miles
The Magnificent Mile Walking Tour

The Magnificent Mile Walking Tour

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Tour Duration: 3 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.2 Km or 2 Miles
Chicago Chinatown Walking Tour

Chicago Chinatown Walking Tour

Tucked away just south of the Loop, the Chinatown of Chicago was established in 1912 and is considered one of the best examples of American Chinatown. While it may be one of Chicago’s smallest neighborhoods geographically, it is big on character, colors, sights, sounds, and flavors. Here, you’ll find a wide range of unique boutiques, specialty shops, religious sights, authentic Chinese...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.7 Km or 1.1 Miles
University of Chicago Walking Tour

University of Chicago Walking Tour

Founded in 1890, the University of Chicago is among the world’s most prestigious educational institutions. As of 2020, the University’s students, faculty and staff have included 100 Nobel laureates, giving it the fourth-most affiliated Nobel laureates of any university.

Set in the heart of Chicago’s famous eclectic neighborhood, Hyde Park, the campus is worth a visit as it offers a...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.5 Km or 1.6 Miles

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