Location of The Rookery
As you walk on South La Salle Street heading towards the Trade Commission Board Building that presides the whole financial district, with the goddess of grains on top of it watching over the city, we arrive at 209 S La Salle, corner of W Adams, the Historic U.S. 66 Route. Here we discover a perfectly shaped dark stone cube structure that stands the test of time in a very volatile and demanding real estate market. An 11 story-high skyscraper of the 1900s, The Rookery was one of the tallest buildings in the world when it was constructed.
Redesigning the city of Chicago
The Great Chicago Fire that destroyed most of the city in 1871 was a terrible event in the history of the city, but also a huge opportunity to redesign and rebuild following new regulations and a new city plan for a greater than ever Chicago. The city started attracting talent from different parts of the world and in 1872, a 22-year-old architect, John Wellborn Root arrives from New York and partners with Daniel H. Burnham to design and construct tall buildings in what became the Loop.
Guided Tour - Rookery Light Court
The Rookery was built on the site of an initial Water Tower later turned into the City Hall. During the tour organized by the Frank Lloyd Wright Trust, we find out that the building had been called a “rookery” due to the nickname of the former City Hall that had crows on its walls and crooked politicians inside it. Many detested the name and there were as many as 27 attempts to change it. But Mr. Root and his crows had the last laugh and the name remains unchanged to this day.
Frank Lloyd Wright Trust Preserves Wright’s Legacy
Frank Lloyd Wright was the architect in charge of the building´s first interior renovation and he has marked The Rookery’s lobby with his unique style and aesthetic vision. But his renovation was done with notable restraint. The tour guide explains how Wright respected Root’s work and even though he made important changes, his renovation did not alter significantly the initial design. As we walk through the lobby, she highlights the different styles and how these perfectly blend in together in a stunning work of art.
The stunning oriel staircase
The tour continues to the first level where we can admire the beauty of the “oriel” staircase, a very distinctive and strong iron spiral that takes your breath away. The level of detail in the ironwork and the way the structure meanders all the way up to the top are part of the charm of this fabulous building. During the tour, our knowledgeable guide takes us on a historical journey through Chicago history, as it is inevitably linked to its architects and their groundbreaking works.
This tour is equally interesting for locals and tourists, for people who enjoy discovering the history of their own city and visitors who wish to enjoy one of the city’s landmark buildings—a hidden gem waiting to be discovered. People from all over the world visit this amazing engineering and architectural marvel and in this writer’s opinion, it is a must see site of the city. There are two options to choose from for this tour, the one available on Mondays and Wednesdays also includes the Burnham Library.
Guided Tour - Rookery Light Court
Tour Length: 30 minutes
Tours on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays
Guided Tour - Rookery Light Court + Burnham Library
Tour Length: 45 minutes
Tours on Mondays and Wednesdays
Tours hours: 11:00 AM, 12:00 PM and 1:00 PM
Closed: Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year's Day
209 South LaSalle Street
About the Author
Laura Buciuman is currently a Marketing Assistant at the Tourist Office of Spain in Chicago. Open-minded and curious, with a major in journalism and philosophy (North University, Romania) and two Master Degrees, one in English and Spanish for specific and business purposes (Alicante University, Spain) and another in International Tourism (EOI Business School, Spain), Laura is passionate about writing, storytelling, traveling, arts and culture. She has already lived in four different countries and visited many others and enjoys discovering different cultures. Reading, gastronomy, latin dances and yoga are some of her hobbies.
Editor's Note: Click here to read more Picture this Post articles by Laura Buciuman