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Reliance Building, Chicago

4.8
#215 of 347 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 Hotel Burnham and Atwood Cafe.HistoryCommercial 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.
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TripAdvisor Traveler Rating
30 reviews
TripAdvisor
  • July 20, 2017
    I went on the 45 minute Chicago Architecture Tour of this building; now a hotel. A very important 1895 historic building in Chicago that has been beautifully restored. Clad in glass and terra cotta it...  more »
  • July 15, 2017
    A must see on any Chicago architecture tour. I just love the cream color of the exterior and the attention to all the small details. The building is in a very prominent area known for quality mid rang...  more »
  • January 21, 2017
    The architecture alone is worth the stay. Comfortable bed, clean bathroom, restaurant on site, and beautiful views. I would recommend this to anyone wanting to be in Chicago near the magnificent mile.  more »

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The Midwest's major center for business conventions, Chicago boasts many affordable places to stay, with most hotels located around the airport and the city's central business district. To discover the city from a comfortable base within walking distance of most tourist attractions, aim for one of the big chain hotels in the downtown area. If you're traveling on a limited budget and wish to get a deeper sense of Chicago's many diverse neighborhoods, consider staying away from the pricey city center and explore suburbs on a commuter train line for easy city access.
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