Tag Archives: Charles Atwood

Chicago’s Historic Reliance Building Evokes the Tale of Legendary Architects Burnham and Atwood in the White City

Upper facade

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The first modern ferris wheel, bult in Chicago...

The first modern ferris wheel, bult in Chicago in 1893 for World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893 by George Washington Gale Ferris, Jr (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The historic Reliance Building in Chicago was completed in 1895 by Charles Atwood. Charles B. Atwood (1849–1896) was a legendary architect who designed several structures and buildings for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago.

White City of the World's Columbian Exposition...

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Court of Honor and Grand Basin of the 1893 Wor...

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The book “Devil in the White City” by Erik Larson vividly describes Atwood and Burnham’s contributions to the Columbian Exposition. The book is set in Chicago around 1893. True stories about the legendary architects like  Daniel H. Burnham and Charles Atwood, who designed and built the structures for the Exposition, are intertwined with the tale of Dr. H.H. Holmes. He was the notorious serial killer who lured his victims to their death in Chicago during the Exposition.

The book also describes the building of the the first Ferris Wheel in 1893! The Ferris Wheel was designed and constructed by George Washington Gale Ferris, Jr., a graduate of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute for the Columbian Exposition. It was originally called the “Chicago Wheel.”

Cover of "The Devil in the White City: M...

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The first Ferris wheel from the 1893 World Col...

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Atwood also designed a number of notable buildings in the city of Chicago including the Reliance Building, and the Marshall Field and Company Building.

The construction of the Reliance Building ushered in an era of Chicago’s treasured skyscrapers! The building is located at 32 N. State Street in Chicago.

It was  designated as a Chicago Landmark on July 11, 1975 by the Landmark Commission. The citation reads:

“In recognition of the early and complete expression, through slender piers, small spandrels and the skillfully restrained use of terra cotta with large areas of glass, of the structural cage of steel that alone supports such buildings.”

English: Original hinges were found in the Rel...

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The building has an interesting history. In 1882, William Hale commissioned architects Burnham and Root to design a 16 story tower at the corner of State and Washington. It was to be called the Reliance Building. The new structure was to replace the First National Bank of Chicago Building.

English: Outside view of the Reliance building...

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English: View of the completed Reliance Buildi...

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