Art Deco Chicago: Designing Modern America

Edited by Robert Brueggman

Art Deco Chicago: Designing Modern America book cover. Palmolive Building. Photo: Hedrich-Blessing courtesy of Chicago Transit Authority

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Art Deco Chicago: Designing Modern America is the most ambitious survey of Art Deco buildings and objects for any American city. It explores and celebrates Chicago’s pivotal role in the development of modern American design. From everyday icons like Sunbeam toasters and Schwinn bicycles to the eye-catching graphics of Popular Mechanics and Wrigley’s gum billboards; from national mail order retailers like Montgomery Ward and Sears, Roebuck to local emporiums like Marshall Field’s and Blum’s Vogue; from familiar beacons of the Chicago skyline like the Board of Trade and Palmolive buildings to outlying treasures like the St. Charles Municipal Building and Brookfield Zoo—Chicago was a leader in the design that came to be known as Art Deco. 

Art Deco Chicago features 100 iconic Art Deco designs with insightful commentary from scholars, curators, and collectors; over 300 images including vintage illustrations and historic and newly commissioned photographs; and five essays by distinguished scholars with new interpretations of twentieth-century modernism and the Art Deco era. It is edited by Robert Brueggman, historian of architecture, landscape, and the built environment. 

Art Deco Chicago: Designing Modern America is a project of the Chicago Art Deco Society as part of its ongoing effort to celebrate and interpret the architecture and design of Chicago in the early twentieth century. Its publication coincides with Modern by Design: Chicago Streamlines America, an exhibition on Chicago modern design at the Chicago History Museum (October 27, 2018–December 2, 2019).