Frank Lloyd Wright in Chicago and Beyond
From the gothic spires of the Tribune Tower to the limestone parapets of the Chicago Water Tower, The Magnificent Mile is home to some of the world's most dazzling architecture. But that's just a sample of the beautiful architecture to be found in Chicago, where many of the innovations in American architecture began to take hold in the early 20th century. Many famous architects began their careers here—including perhaps the most legendary American architect of all, Frank Lloyd Wright, whose unique style can be found in works throughout Chicago and all over Illinois.
From the north end of Michigan Avenue, it's an easy walk to the Charnley-Persky House Museum, one of Wright's earliest collaborations with Chicago architecture titan Louis Sullivan. Built in 1892, the one-time residence is considered by some to be the first truly modern American home.
Down in the Loop, the building known as The Rookery also shines a light on Wright's early career. Architects Daniel Burnham and John Root first built the iron skyscraper in 1888, but Wright remodeled the lobby in 1905, installing a magnificent glass interior through which sunlight casts dazzling shadows on the marble floor.
Those are just two of Wright's works to be found along Illinois' Frank Lloyd Wright Trail, a self-guided architectural tour of 9 Illinois communities featuring 13 Wright-designed buildings that are open to the public for tours.
Frank Lloyd Wright in Oak Park
Located just outside the Chicago (and only an El ride away), the village of Oak Park is where Wright lived and worked for the first 20 years of his career. It's also where you'll find gems such as the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio and Unity Temple, a cubist concrete wonder that Wright designed for his own Unitarian congregation.
While Illinois' Frank Lloyd Wright Trail is self-guided, Chicago has plenty of architecture tours, during which experts will show you the sights and share fun facts along the way. Several companies conduct tours by boat, pointing up at splendid skyscrapers while you cruise in style down the Chicago River—and embark/disembark right on the Magnificent Mile.
Take a Wright-Inspired Road Trip
All in all, there are 13 buildings open to public tours along Illinois' Frank Lloyd Wright Trail, though many of them are scattered throughout Illinois. From Chicago, you can head up to Rockford for a view of the Laurent House—the only home Wright ever built specifically for a person with a disability—or down to the state capital, Springfield, to see the Dana-Thomas House. No need to plan your own trip—you can prepare for the trip by downloading one of Illinois' official Frank Lloyd Wright Trail itineraries.