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Life Span: 1890-Current
Location: 431 S. Dearborn
Architect: W. LeBaron Jenney
The Manhattan Building
This colossal fire-proof structure overtops every other office building in the city by at least three stories. Being situated on the leading business and financial street in Chicago, near the Post Office, depots and Board of Trade, with which it is connected by pneumatic tubes, it promises to become a very popular structure. It has sixteen stories and basement of solid masonry and an inner frame of steel and iron, incased in terra cotta. The interior is embellished with ornamental bronze and antique copper, polished marble and jaspis wainscoting, mosaic floors and ornamental ceilings. The small amount of woodwork that enters into the structure is antique oak. The appointments as to elevator service, electric light, heat and general conveniences embrace every improvement known to modern science, and are unequaled by any building as yet erected in Chicago.
It is the oldest surviving skyscraper in the world to use a purely skeletal supporting structure and was the first 16-story building in the world. W. LeBaron Jenney was the architect. Louis E. Ritter was assistant engineer to Major Jenney. The permit was dated June 7, 1889.
There is one basement, and the building is supported on spread foundations with beam and rail grillages. The building is true skeleton construction, with no use of party walls, the north and south walls of tile being supported upon steel cantilevers carrying the load back to the first row of interior columns. The columns are of cast iron, and the beams and girders are of wrought iron with “no steel in the building, Bessemer beams being still too expensive.” It was the first building to recognize a system of wind-bracing as a necessity