Thomas Leslie, author of the new University of Illinois Press book Chicago Skyscrapers, 1871-1934, is the subject of a Chronicle of Higher Education feature.

Thomas Leslie likes to warn his Iowa State University architecture students that when he brings them to Chicago for a show-and-tell history of pioneering skyscrapers, they’ll be facing the “legendary five-hour death march.” And he does indeed cover a lot of territory. But the city’s early high-rises are astonishingly varied, and Leslie enlivens his account of their construction with great details—about problems that
stumped builders on one block and got solved over on the next, about oversized personalities and underhanded politics, about a building he once lived in that leans more than 12 inches toward Lake Michigan. You may come away from a tour with him sunburned, but you’ll have a new understanding of how cities grow, especially if they’re growing vertically.

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