Author(s): Tom Miller
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Chicago started life with a split personality. By the end of the Civil War wealthy Chicagoans and their wives were struggling to prove that their city was as affluent and civilized as its East Coast counterparts, New York, Philadelphia and Boston. Mansions rose, an art museum was founded, and music halls lured opera stars. Yet, all the while, stockyards, rowdy cowboys and slaughterhouses continued to brand Chicago as a western outpost. When the great fire of 1871 destroyed much of the city, Chicago emerged determined to take its place as a leading metropolis. The World's Columbian Exposition of 1893 changed American architecture and put Chicago on the international map. This trend continued in the twentieth century with architects like Louis B. Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright, and Chicago-based architectural movements such as the Prairie School and the Chicago Style. But impressive and important as Chicago's architectural and sculptural landmarks are, there is more to them than design and style. Seeking Chicago explores the human stories of the city's buildings. In these pages you will find a priest who dodged gangland bullets in the garden of his church; a socialite who complained to a judge that Prohibition had raised her husband's excessive drinking to intolerable levels; a millionaire whose search for privacy resulted in a mansion with its windowless back to the street; and much, much more. Intriguing and informative, Seeking Chicago is a must-read for those interested in Chicago and how it got that way.