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Downtown Chicago’s Millennial Boom

Downtown Chicago’s Millennial Boom

(p.91) 4 Downtown Chicago’s Millennial Boom
From Boom To Bubble
Rachel Weber
University of Chicago Press

How do the factors discussed in the previous chapters play out in the case of downtown Chicago's historic waves of expansion? After discussing how the previous four building booms (the 1900s, 1920s, 1960s, and 1980s) transformed the Chicago Loop, this chapter documents the development of new office, residential, and retail buildings that occurred during the Millennial Boom, roughly 1998 through 2008. It moves between stories about specific skyscrapers and submarkets, such as John Buck's transformation of Wacker Drive, and statistics and maps that reveal the magnitude and geography of the last expansion. The chapter returns to the question that animates this book: what caused Chicago to boom during the first decade of the 21st century? Conventional explanations look to economic growth or the changing spatial preferences of occupants. Weighing these possible explanations against a range of evidence, from employment and demographic statistics to an analysis of changes in business addresses to interview data, challenges mainstream interpretations of building construction. The Millennial Boom was only weakly demand-led, and this demand emanated more from existing tenants relocating from older, existing space than from in-migrants to the region.

Keywords:   Chicago history, downtown Chicago, Chicago Loop, real estate, economic growth, building boom, skyscraper construction

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