Built in 1896, the Fisher Building stands as a reminder of the early influence of the Chicago School of Architecture and the subsequent emergence of the skyscraper. When completed, the Fisher Building was one of the tallest buildings in the world. Commissioned by paper tycoon Lucius Fisher, president of the Union Bag and Paper, it is located just north of the historic Printer's Row in Chicago. A 2001 renovation and restoration of the Fisher Building ostensibly converted it from an industrial space to that of residential use.


  • The Fisher Building was completed in 1896.
    The Fisher Building was completed in 1896.
  • Upon its completion, this was one of the tallest buildings in the world.
    Upon its completion, this was one of the tallest buildings in the world.

Built in 1896, the Fisher Building stands as a reminder of the early influence of the Chicago School of Architecture and the subsequent emergence of the skyscraper. When completed, the Fisher Building was one of the tallest buildings in the world and one of only two buildings in Chicago to reach upwards of eighteen stories. Today, it is the oldest of the two remaining; the other building was the older and taller Masonic Temple demolished in 1939. As well, the Fisher Building serves as a reminder of Chicago's flourishing printing industry during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The building was commissioned by paper tycoon Lucius Fisher, president of the Union Bag and Paper, and it is located just north of the historic Printer's Row in Chicago. Though constructed by the Daniel Burnham firm, the actual design was conducted by Charles Atwood, who did much of his early work in New York. Thus, the building is notable for its Chicago School design and function, but its aesthetics draw from several other styles.  

The Fisher Building was revolutionary for its time as it features a steel frame structure and an exterior comprised 75% windows and 25% terra cotta.
Originally constructed as an eighteen-story tower, a two-story addition was added in 1907. The most prominent characteristics of the building is its gothic ornamentation and aquatic creature carvings. Indeed, marine details and mythical sea creatures adorn a large portion of the building, as well as crabs, salamanders, dolphin door handles, starfish, frogs, and ornamental fish on the glass.

A 2001 renovation and restoration of the Fisher Building ostensibly converted it from an industrial space to that of residential use. Those residing in what is now the Fisher City Apartments enjoy beautiful views of the city, still taking advantage of the numerous windows used in its original construction. 

Bright, Wendy. "How Chicago’s Historic Fisher Building Got Its Fish, and Other Things That Make It Special." ChicagoArchitecture.org. March 12, 2013. http://www.chicagoarchitecture.org/2013/03/12/how-chicagos-historic-fisher-building-got-its-fish-and.... 

Smith, Carl. The Plan of Chicago: Daniel Burnham and the Remaking of the American City. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006. 

Westfall, Carroll William. Nomination Form: Fisher Building. National Register of Historic Places. Accessed July 22, 2017. https://archive.org/stream/NationalRegisterNominationsForChicago/FisherBldg.NrNom#page/n5/mode/2up.