Downtown Architectural Styles of Chicago

Because the neighborhood-focused "Home Styles of Chicago" needed a companion piece: This new print celebrate the variety of classic Chicago architectural styles that you can see in and around the loop. These buildings are representative of certain styles, some of which first flourished in Chicago itself. The first skyscrapers of the "Chicago School," the soaring and organic Sullivan-designed (or mimicked) buildings, the Mies-made modernist highrises.

Click the image below to purchase!


Historic Stadiums and Ballparks of Chicago

The Historic Arenas of the Chicago Blackhawks

The Chicago Blackhawks franchise dates back to 1926, at the time "Black Hawks." The team was named after the owner's World War I division, which was in turn named after Black Hawk, a warrior from the Sauk nation from the Great Lakes region. 

The Blackhawks' original arena was the Chicago Coliseum, a venue with an exterior constructed of stone from a prison in Richmond, VA. The Coliseum itself (technically the third of three venues named "Coliseum" in Chicago) had a storied past. It's considered the home to the first Roller Derby, carried out in 1935, and hosted huge musical acts. It was shut down in 1971 after the place was damaged after a fracas over a show mishap, but it had already been on its last legs. A portion of that cool masonry exterior was kept standing until the 90's, when it too was demolished.

chicago coliseumThe Blackhawks moved into Chicago Stadium in 1929 and were the starring team there for years. The place was called the Madhouse on Madison, known for amplifying the crowd's roars, and was famous for its large pipe organ and the jingles throughout the games. The Bulls joined them as co-tenants in 1967. The two teams now, of course, occupy the United Center just a stone's throw from the original Chicago Stadium, which was demolished in 1995.

chicago stadium drawing
united center drawing


The Historic Stadiums of the Chicago Bears

The Chicago Bears have their origins in Decatur, Illinois, where they were called the "Decatur Staleys." They moved to Chicago in 1921 and got the Bears name as a play on the "Cubs," with whom they shared a stadium: Wrigley Field.

The Bears played at Wrigley for fifty years, but the baseball stadium couldn't fully accommodate the full field of play needed to play football (safely). It was too confined, the team facilities not large enough. Beyond that the seating capacity was too low to make the much shorter football season economically viable.

drawing wrigley field chicago bears
So the team moved to Soldier Field along the lakefront. That stadium also was not built to be a football stadium, but the team made do for thirty years. In 2003 (and after one season playing their home games at University of Illinois's stadium in Champaign), the team moved into its tailor-made, updated Soldier Field. It was a controversial upgrade: It made the field better equipped for a modern football team and crowd's needs, but it was criticized by the architectural elite and got the stadium's landmark status "revoked." But the world kept turning and people got used to it.original soldier field drawing
soldier field drawing
The Historic Ballparks of the Chicago White Sox

Once the Souix City Cornhuskers, the "White Stockings" became so in their move to Chicago in 1900. They started playing at the South Side Park, which was actually the third of three "South Side Parks" in an area very close to where the current White Sox ballpark stands today, 35th and Wentworth.South Side Park drawing White Sox

The team's early and most influential owner, Charles Comiskey, oversaw the construction of what was to become Comiskey Park. It used the then-novel concrete and steel construction in ballparks, an upgrade over the wooden grandstands that was used for ballpark design. Comiskey became belovedly tied to the White Sox and even more so for its quirky features like the exploding scoreboard and fun game night attractions. And Disco Demolition Night.

The ballpark was demolished in 1991 and is now a parking lot serving what became the new home of the White Sox. For a short time, the new park was also known as Comiskey Park. The naming rights were sold twice--it was U.S. Cellular, now Guaranteed Rate--but old names die hard.

Comiskey Park drawing
Guaranteed Rate Field_drawing
The Historic Ballparks of the Chicago Cubs

The team that is now known as the Cubs was once the "White Stockings" and has roots in Chicago dating back to 1870. The team went through a variety of ballparks since then, all of which were wooden until the concrete-and-steel Wrigley Field, the venue they currently call home.

The team's first ballpark was Union Base-Ball Grounds, located by the lake near what is now Millennium Park. Unfortunately it was a very short tenure. Within a year of opening, the Great Chicago Fire of October 1871 tore through the city and burned the ballpark to the ground.

The team took up residency thereafter at 23rd Street Grounds (at 23rd and State Street), followed by Lakefront Park and West Side Park. For a brief period before and during the 1893 World Columbia Expo, the team played an alternating series of games at South Side Park II (a predecessor of South Side Park III and Comiskey).

The team then moved to the West side, first at West Side Park, and then the second, much larger West Side Park or "West Side Grounds." Both were still wooden parks in the vicinity of what is now numerous UIC buildings around Wolcott and Polk. They were still known at the White Stockings at this point, then for a time the Colts, before being called the Cubs exclusively (circa 1907. Team names were a lot looser back then, more like nicknames). The Cubs' time at West Side Grounds was marked by many successful seasons, four pennants and two world championships. 

Finally the team took up residency at what we know now as Wrigley but what was then known as Weeghman Park. That ballpark had been built in 1914 and was designed by the same architecture, Zachary Taylor Davis, who had designed Comiskey. Thus the two fields shared some of the same features and a bit of the look. At the time it opened, the park was home to the Chicago Whales of the now-defunct Federal League. The Cubs played their first game there in 1916; in 1921, William Wrigley took over and named the field for himself/his chewing gum company. 

[Note: For most of these ballparks, the visual record is extremely thin. I depended in large part for the early ballparks on the research of Jack Bales, whose book Before They Were the Cubs: The Early Years of Chicago's First Professional Baseball Team is an invaluable resource to any Cubs enthusiasts. He found newspaper description of the ballparks when they first opened to the public.

Note 2:  I called this "Ballparks of the North Side" as a counterpoint to the "Ballparks of the South Side," the Sox parks, despite the fact that some of the ballparks were not technically on the "North Side."]

Union Base Ball Grounds drawing
23rd Street Grounds
Lakefront Park drawing
West Side Grounds
Wrigley Field drawing
The Historic Arenas of the Chicago Bulls

The Chicago Bulls franchise is considerably younger than the others listed here. Its number of world titles for its relatively short life might make it most efficiently successful. The team was the third pro basketball team in Chicago (after the Stags and the Zephyrs) and was named with a nod to the city's long history of stockyards and cattle processing.

The team played one season at the International Amphitheatre, which had been home to the Chicago Zephyrs (which would ultimately move on to Washington, DC become the Bullets, then the Wizards). The Amphitheatre itself had existed since 1934 and was also tied to the livestock industry: It was built by the Stock Yard Company, next to the Union Stockyards, and specifically intended to house the International Livestock Exhibition.

The Bulls moved into Chicago Stadium thereafter, joining the Blackhawks, who had been there since 1929. They won their second of three NBA titles in 1992 at the stadium itself. For a time the Chicago Stadium and United Center co-existing but the Chicago Stadium would be demolished during the first season that the Bulls inaugurated the United Center. The United Center was designed to echo the look of the much-loved Chicago Stadium and in the way it amplified the crowd noise. The team would go on to win two titles at home in that arena in 1996 and 1997. 

International Ampitheatre drawing

chicago stadium drawing

united center drawing


Want a keepsake of this side of Chicago history? I made a Stadium print series that captures these past and present venues. Here's where you can find those. Thanks for reading. 

Some places you can find me this year

I'll be at some events this year. Here are the ones that are upcoming/confirmed:

Renegade Craft Fair - Sep 7-8 on Division St (by Damen)

Ravenswood Artwalk - Sep 14-15 at Beyond Design 

One of a Kind Holiday Show - Dec 5-8 at Merch Mart. 


Printers Row Lit Fest (Booth M-West) - June 8-9 on Printers Row.

One of a Kind Spring Show (Booth 1081) - April 27-29.

Renegade Craft Fair (Booth 114) - May 10-11 in Pilsen.

    May 09, 2019 — Phillip Thompson

    New! Chicago Stadiums Series!

    This is my latest series: the stadiums of Chicago. This project was right at the intersection of my love for architecture, history, and Chicago tradition. These hometown teams go back a long way, more than a hundred years in some cases, and there is a continuity in the human experience that comes through in their built environment. We see echoes of the Roman Coliseum arches in Comiskey Park, and echoes of Comiskey Park in Guaranteed Rate Field. The baseball diamonds carry through as a recurring motif, through the many years; the walls are built tough and tall around the shells; flags reinforce that these are fortresses where battles are fought.

    Here is the link to the full collection.

    April 15, 2019 — Phillip Thompson
    A Selection of some the Coolest Chicago Maps

    A Selection of some the Coolest Chicago Maps

    Here's a collection of some of my favorite maps of Chicago, from the historical to contemporary takes.

    I love the way the city formed. The city in its current form has a beautiful, orderly pattern of streets that radiates out from a core. I wanted to present some of the early maps of the city, where the first seeds of settlement happened, and present a chronology of illustrated maps. 

    Early cartographers showed the growth of the city from its origins at the Chicago River and its fork. Later cartographers and artists took liberties in showing the cityscape in different ways, highlighting certain elements like new transit lines, parks and boulevards, and modern aerial views.

    Hope you enjoy getting these bird's eye views of the city's history and growth.

    NOTE: If you want a closer view of these maps, right-click on the image and select "Open image in new tab." That will allow you to get an expandable view of the image and a better look at the details.

    Chicago Maps: Early Settlement. pre-1800-1833

    early chicago settlement map

    Imaginary view of Chicago in 1779. A. T. Andreas, History of Chicago from the Earliest Period to the Present Time, vol. 1 (Chicago: A. T. Andreas, 1884), frontispiece. Source


    early chicago birds eye settlement view

    Chicago in 1820. Chicago Lithographing Company, 1867. Chromolithograph on paper. Library of Congress. Source


    early chicago map

    Map of Chicago in 1812. Source


    early chicago map streets

     The original 1830 subdivision by the Illinois and Michigan Canal Commissioners.  Source.


    early chicago map 1830

    "Map of Chicago, Incorporated as a Town August 5, 1833." Walter Conley & O.E. Stelzer, 1933.  Source


    Chicago Maps: Growth and Industrialization until the Fire. 1857-1871

    vintage chicago map

    Chicago In Early Days. 1779-1857. Kurz & Allison, 1893. Source.


    chicago vintage map

    Lithograph by Christian Inger, based on a drawing by J.T. Palmatary. Published by Braunhold & Sonne. 1857. Source


    chicago early map

    Chicago, Chicago Lithographing Co., 1868.  Source.


    chicago birds eye map

    Currier & Ives.; published in Harper's Weekly (1 August 1874)  Source


    chicago fire map

    Richard’s Illustrated and Statistical Map of the Great Conflagration in Chicago. 1871.  Source.


    Chicago Maps: Post-Fire. 1874-1893

    chicago birds eye

    The City of Chicago / sketched & drawn on stone by Parsons & Atwater. Currier & Ives, publisher. 1874.  Source


    chicago map

    Guide map of new Chicago and suburbs. Author Stine & Clark,1889. Source.


    chicago view

    "Bird's eye view of Chicago, 1892." Roy, Peter. Source.


    chicago vintage map

    "1893 Grand View of Chicago." Treutlein, Th. Eagle Lithographing Co. Reynertson & Beckerman, 1893, c1892. Source.  


    chicago worlds fair view illustration

    "Bird's eye view of the World's Columbian Exposition, Chicago, 1893." Rand McNally and Company. Source.


    chicago birds eye map

    Library of Congress illustration of the official birdseye view of the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Illinois in 1892. Source.


    Chicago Maps: Into the 20th Century. 1898-1916

    chicago birds eye vintage

    Bird's-eye-view of the business district of Chicago. Poole Brothers, c1898. Source.


    chicago rail map vintage

    Birds-eye view of the elevated railroads and the parks and boulevards of Chicago. Willis J. Champion, 1908. Source


    plan of chicago 1909

    "Chicago. View Looking West over the City, Showing the Proposed Civic Center, the Grand Axis, Grant Park, and the Harbor," (Jules Guerin). Plan of Chicago, published by Chicago architects Daniel H. Burnham, Jr. and Edward H. Bennett, 1909. Source.


    chicago vintage map

    Chicago, central business section. Reincke, Arno B. 1916. Source


    Chicago Maps: Post-Depression into mid-Century. 1930-1958

    chicago annexation map

    Map Showing the Territorial Growth of Chicago. Chicago Department of Public Works, Bureau of Maps and Plats, 1930. Source


    chicago aerial 1930s map

    An Illustrated Map of Chicago, Youthful City of the Big Shoulders, Restless, Ingenious, Wilful, Violent, Proud to be Alive! Charles Turzak, Boston, 1931. Source


    chicago gangland map

    A Map of Chicago's gangland from authentic sources: designed to inculcate the most important principles of piety and virtue in young persons, and graphically portray the evils and sin of large cities. Bruce-Roberts, Inc., 1931. Source.


    chicago birds eye map

    A Century of Progress, 1833-1933 : Chicago World's Fair Exposition. Reuben H. Donnelley Corp. 1933. Source


    chicago map

    Chicago. The Greatest Inland City in the World. Colortext Publications, Inc. 1938. Source


    chicago ethnic map

    Map illustrating the dominant ethnicities of different areas of Chicago in 1950. City of Chicago Department of Planning and Development. Source


    chicago vintage rapid transit map

    "Elevate Map of Chicago Rapid Transit Lines." ca. 1950. Source: unknown


    chicago aerial view

    Chicagoland Panorama. Homer Goodman. Published by: Chicago Association of Commerce and Industry. 1964. Source.


    Chicago Maps: Modern Interpretations

    chicago hyde park panorama map

    Map of Hyde Park and view north. Lauren Nassef. 2007 [circa?] Source


    chicago super mario map

     Robert Bacon. 2013. Source


    chicago map

    T.S. Shure Map of Chicago Magnetic Playboard and Puzzle [2010?]. Source.


    chicago map

    Map of Roscoe Village: A Neighborhood of Chicago. Joe Mills. [Contemporary] Source.


    chicago map

    Chicago Neighborhood Map. Ork Posters [Contemporary] Source


    Example of Craft Fair Booth Set-up

    Art Shows: Places I've Been, Places I'll Be in 2018

    These are the shows so far confirmed. Stop by! Say hello! Give me some constructive criticism!

    Show of Hands.
    MAY 4-6. Architectural Artifacts (Ravenswood)

    Renegade Craft Fair (Spring).
    MAY 12-13. Halsted St (Pilsen)

    57th Street Art Fair.
    JUNE 2-3. Kimbark & 57th (Hyde Park)

    Printers Row Lit Fest.
    JUNE 9-10. Dearborn & Harrison (Printer's Row)

    Gold Coast Art Fair.
    JUNE 16-17. Grant Park. Just North of Buckingham Fountain.

    Southport Art Festival.
    JULY 14-15. Southport & Waveland (Southport Corridor)

    Bucktown Arts Fest.
    AUG 25-26. Holstein Park area (Bucktown)

    Renegade Craft Fair (Fall).
    SEP 8-9. Division & Damen (Ukrainian Village)

    Ravenswood Artwalk. 
    SEPT 15-16. Venue: Beyond Design. (Ravenswood)

    Show of Hands (Holiday).
    NOV 16-18. Architectural Artifacts (Ravenswood)

    Renegade Craft Fair (Holiday)
    DEC 1-2. Bridgeport Art Center (Bridgeport)

    The One of a Kind Show (Holiday).  
    DEC 6-9. Merchandise Mart (River North)

      June 18, 2018 — Phillip Thompson

      Chicago Lakefront Maps: The Kickstarter!

      I'm happy to announce a Kickstarter to create print editions of two new illustrated map editions.

      These maps are two distinct, illustrated bird's eye views / panoramas that celebrate Chicago's beautiful lakefront. One is a view eastward, focusing on the details and sites along the lakeshore, and one is the view westward, a color edition of the (recently sold-out) "Lakefront Currents."

      Just click here or the image preview below to visit the Kickstarter page and pledge your support. I greatly appreciate it! 

      123 Sesame Street

      Illustration of 123 Sesame Street at dusk. THE house of Sesame Street. There's a lot I'm learning. Bert and Ernie live in the garden unit. Elmo lives alone on the ground floor, the human family (who also own the place) on the second, Big Bird in the courtyard next door, and Oscar of course in the can out front. Bert kept a pigeon coop on the roof. I also never appreciated the house itself. Italianate, mid-1800s brownstone, based on those fantastic New York City row homes. 

      Will create a limited edition giclée print of this. Contact me and let me know if you are interested.

      Sesame Street house


      "Chicago to Chicagoans." My Tribute to Saul Steinberg's Famous New Yorker cover

      chicago to chicagoans map