It’s not spooky season, but these buildings will give you the chills.
With The Batman flying into theaters, I feel more drawn to Chicago’s stunning architecture more than ever. After all, Gotham City is partly inspired by Chicago. Parts of the 2020 revamp, The Batman, were even filmed on the very streets of Chicago. There’s some seriously incredible Gothic architecture in the city but before we have a look at some of the best, here’s what you need to know:
What makes a building Gothic?
There are certain standout elements to gothic architecture (like pointed arches, spires, flying buttresses, etc.). The real draw seems to be the grandiose nature of these designs.
When was Gothic Architecture Founded?
Gothic architecture first became prevalent in the mid 12th and 16th centuries in Europe, though it initially originated in the Middle Ages. The designs came to America in the mid 19th century and since then, have become a cornerstone of the city’s charm.
Where Can I See These Buildings?
1. Chicago Board of Trade Building
This building is actually featured in The Batman and is used to help create the Gotham City Police Department in the movie. It stands tall at 604 feet and officially opened in the 1930s. Today, it is known to all as the pinnacle of Art Deco styling… which makes its The Batman feature quite ironic. Where’s the gothic in that? It is home to the world’s oldest future and options exchange– making it a part of Chicago’s storied history.
Address: 141 W. Jackson Blvd, Chicago, IL 60604
2. Tribune Tower
The Tribune Tower stands proudly as the gateway to the Magnificent Mile. It’s the first thing you see upon entering Chicago’s commercial district. The Gothic-revival style structure fits in perfectly with Gotham City’s gritty, maleficent nature. PS: The Daily Planet would definitely be located here.
Address: 435 N. Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611
3. Chicago Temple Building
The skyscraper itself first came to be in 1924. Consisting of a total of 43 floors, this neo-Gothic architectural masterpiece is a truly stunning structure. Worth a gander on your architecture tour of the city, it’s also home to the First United Methodist Church of Chicago. The Chicago Temple has sat at this very location since 1883. Now, the building is mainly used as office space nowadays, though it’s possible to imagine scrupulous individuals meeting to take Batman down in one of the many offices above.
Address: 77 W Washington St, Chicago, IL 60602
4. Fisher Building
Standing at 260 feet tall, this incredible neo-Gothic building is a real Chicago staple. It was first constructed in 1896 and later expanded in 1907. In 1978, the building has officially been designated a landmark. Known as the oldest 18-story building still standing in the city, the Fisher Building was also added to the national register of historic places in 1976. While it may seem unassuming at first, the building really does stand out amongst its neighbors. If you look closely, you’ll see the prominent marine theme on display, which Charles B. Atwood designed in order to honor Lucius Fisher who initially commissioned the building.
Address: 343 South Dearborn Street, Chicago, IL 60604
5. The Chicago Water Tower
Known as one of the most ornate buildings on the list, this historic skyscraper is a celebrated creation in Chicago. The building sits along the Magnificent Mile ever since its completion in 1896. Designed in a gorgeous Gothic Revival style, William Boyington built the water tower in order to house a standpipe, assisting in Chicago’s water supply issue at the time. Also, Oscar Wilde once referenced the now-famous building, though he didn’t offer a glowing review.
Address: 806 N. Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611
6. The University of Chicago
The campus is a Victorian Gothic architect’s dream come true. Initially designed to imitate Oxford’s stately buildings, the sprawling campus still houses buildings built way back in 1890. Located in the historic Hyde Park area, the campus is the place to be for all the academic feels. There are other structures that veer away from this style, but the sophisticated, frankly haunting Gothic-style buildings are a big draw here.
Address: 924 E 57th St, Chicago, IL 60637
7. Harper Memorial Library
Known to students as a quiet place to study at the University of Chicago, the exterior of the Harper Memorial Library paints a moody picture of Gothic architectural style at its best. The library was remodeled as a study space with reading rooms and a bustling on-campus café.
Address: 1116 E 59th St, Chicago, IL 60637
8. Cobb Lecture Hall
Completed in 1892, the Cobb Lecture Hall faces inward toward the main quadrangle on the University of Chicago campus. The Gothic revival design is hard to miss when facing the entrance of the building, though the street-side is unusually sparse.
Address: 5811 S Ellis Ave, Chicago, IL 60637
9. 35 E Wacker: The Jewelers Building
Known mainly for the grand Father Time clock on the Northeast corner of the building, the Jewelers Building is an overall architectural feat. Made using light brown limestone, this grandiose building shows off an impressive dome top. The ultra-ornate structure is covered in laurel leaves and gilded cartouches for an extra luxe feel. Plus, the colonnades on each corner of the building actually hold 5,000 gallon-water tanks. It can be seen in the 2005 Batman Begins. Now used as rentable office space, the 40-story building was initially commissioned to house the Chicago’s Jeweler’s Association. The clock, which features a 5ft tall statue of Father Time at the top, was a gift from the Elgin Watch Company.
Address: 35 E Wacker Pl #260, Chicago, IL 60601
10. 311 South Wacker
Known as the Birthday Cake Building, this incredible architectural design definitely makes us hungry for a slice of cake. Ok, we know it’s not technically *gothic architecture* but it screams Gotham City so we had to include it here. It stands at an incredible 65-story height and is the 9th tallest building in Chicago.
[Featured image from Unsplash / @antonmelekh]