AMERICAN NOTES: The Disposable Sullivans

After the great Chicago fire—100 years ago last month—the city rebuilt itself in an original and handsome style that became one of its proud distinctions. Chicago may have been Sandburg's "Hog Butcher," but there was also the Chicago school of architecture. None of the city's architects surpassed Louis Sullivan, whose buildings combined elegant ornament with a functional austerity that was to influence the imaginations of great 20th century builders like Frank Lloyd Wright.

There is a certain civic perversity in the fact that Chicago is in the process of destroying Sullivan's works. Of the 92 Sullivan buildings once standing there, 66...

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