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1890: Reliance Building – Chicago, Illinois

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Innovation: Reliance Building
Location: Chicago, Illinois
Year: 1890
By: Charles B. Atwood and John Root  of Burnham and Root

In 1890, the basement and first floor of the Reliance Building were designed by Burnham and Root. The rest of the building was designed by Charles Atwood and completed during 1894-1895. It was the first skyscraper to have the majority of its surface area utilize plate glass windows, along with a terra-cotta façade, which set the precedent for 20th century skyscrapers.

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Written by Michael Van Shellenbeck

October 5, 1890 at 7:04 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

1887: The Eiffel Tower – Paris, France

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Innovation: The Eiffel Tower
Location: Paris, France
Year: 1887
By: Gustave Eiffel

In 1887, construction of the Eiffel Tower began in Paris. Due to metallurgical innovations, 7300 tons of puddling iron was used in the tower to support the tall structure. Puddling iron was made from “pig iron,” and exhibits a much higher tensile strength than the previously used porous iron manufactured at the time. This new iron technology allowed the Eiffel Tower to remain the tallest man-made structure from it’s 1889 completion until 1930 when the Chrysler Building was completed in New York City. The Eiffel Tower stands at 1,050 ft tall (320 meters). Over 2.5 million rivets were used in it’s construction, with the holes designed to a tolerance of 0.1 mm. 1,700 general drawings and 3,629 technical drawings were created by hand for the Eiffel tower and it’s 18,000 components.

Written by Michael Van Shellenbeck

October 5, 1887 at 5:57 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

1886: Chicago Auditorium – Chicago, Illinois

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Innovation: Chicago Auditorium Building
Location: Chicago, Illinois
Year: 1886
By: Dankmar Adler and Louis Sullivan

Designed in 1886 and completed in 1889, the Chicago Auditorium Building by Adler and Sullivan incorporated significant fire safety, following the Great Chicago Fire in 1871. From October 8 to October 10, 1871, 3.3 square miles in Chicago burned to the ground, which left over 100,000 people without homes and hundreds dead. This spurred an interest in fire safety and innovation, which was incorporated into the Chicago Auditorium Building.  Plaster material instead of wood was used for the walls and ceilings of the theater and stone walls were used for the exterior of the building. There were a large number of narrow aisles (rather than fewer, wider aisles) and tunnel-like passages that led out of the theater and allowed for a quick evacuation. The building also featured several other innovative concepts that were unheard of at the time. It was one of the first theaters to be both heated and air conditioned, which allowed it to function year-round. It was also one of the first buildings at the time to be wired with electricity, and housed 11 massive generators to power the building. Beneath the stage, 26 hydraulic lifts were incorporated to raise and lower the stage for different performances.

Written by Michael Van Shellenbeck

January 5, 1886 at 5:19 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

1885: First Chain Driven Bicycle – “The Rover”

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Innovation: : First chain driven bicycle, the “Rover”
Location: Coventry, England
Year: 1885
By: J.K. Starley

Traditionally, bicycles had pedals attached to their front wheel and utilized a substantially larger front wheel than rear. They were dangerous to operate and the rider was at a safety risk during any collisions due to his height off the ground. These older style bicycles were difficult to mount and were only ridden by enthusiasts during the 1870s when cycling became popular. The chain driven Rover bicycle was first exhibited in London in early 1885 by designer J.K. Starley. This new design allowed for a smaller front wheel, as the pedals were now attached via chain to the rear wheel. This allowed the overall height of the bicycle to be lowered substantially and they became easier to mount. The Rover became known as the “safety bicycle” due to these improvements and it became a viable and popular mode of transportation for many people in the area. By the 1890s, the ordinary bicycle was obsolete.

Written by Michael Van Shellenbeck

October 5, 1885 at 5:49 pm

Posted in Uncategorized