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Hotel Burnham's Soaring History

"Make no little plans. They have no magic to stir men's blood and probably will not themselves be realized."
-Daniel Burnham

True to his words, Chicago City planner and architect Daniel Burnham designed on a grand scale. He was a visionary whose plans shaped our beloved city, and more than a century later his ideas continue to influence urban architecture throughout the world.

Burnham, John Root and Charles Atwood revolutionized their world and downtown Chicago when they created the Reliance Building in 1895. Its radical steel and glass design set the precedent for the modern skyscraper, ushering in a new era in architectural design that has since shaped the skylines of cities around the globe.

In 1999, after being neglected for decades and nearly forgotten, the historic Reliance Building was carefully restored and resurrected as Hotel Burnham, a Kimpton Hotel. This important building is justly listed on the National Register of Historic Places. An inviting hotel in downtown Chicago, Hotel Burnham exudes the elegance of a bygone era and preserves a rich part of our country's history. As one of Chicago's most significant architectural landmarks, Hotel Burnham is a fitting tribute to the intrepid spirit of this city.

Hotel Burnham represents "The Chicago School"

During the late 1800s after the Great Chicago Fire, Chicago, Illinois gave birth to a commercial architectural style now known as "The Chicago School." Completed in 1895 and designated a National Historic Landmark in 1975, the Reliance Building not only epitomizes this style, but was in fact a primary prototype for the modern-day skyscraper. A fundamental part of Chicago's history, the building's fourteen floors seem to defy gravity. The strength of its steel frame lyrically contrasts with its delicate glass and terra cotta façade.

Occupied by an array of merchants and professionals throughout the 1900s, the Reliance Building later fell into disrepair. In the early 1990s, renovation and restoration of the Reliance Building began at the urging of the partners who own the building and with the help and support of Mayor Daley, the City of Chicago Planning and Development Department and Kimpton Hotels. Portions of the interior were completely rebuilt to match the original, while the mosaic floors, multi-colored marble ceilings and walls, and ornamental metal elevator grills, stairways and archways were meticulously refurbished to resemble those that once existed.

The resulting 122-room boutique Hotel Burnham gorgeously illustrates Chicago's past and present glory. The restoration of the historic Reliance Building as a signature hotel is also a progressive step toward bringing State Street back to its original splendor and confirming it as a major tourist destination.

Reliance Building Audio Tour »