Reviews of Living Landmarks of Chicago

People LOVE Living Landmarks of Chicago. Here’s proof.

Our friend Theresa Carter Goodrich wrote her third book. (I say “our,” because if you’ve met her, you assume you’ve always been friends.) And this book, “Living Landmarks of Chicago,” might be my favorite of hers. The topic is Chicago, and Chicago’s famous buildings — the architectural and cultural wonders that attract more than 50 million tourists a year, places some of us residents might take for granted (shame on you), and a few more of us peer up at in ever-deepening wonder.

Thank goodness one of those peering up at our city’s landmarks was Theresa, who set out to take posts on Chicago’s landmarks from her blog TheLocalTourist and weave them into what she meant to be a cheap and easy book, but instead turned into a much richer labor of love — all of our love — about the City of Chicago, and the people who built it. The result sheds light on what makes us Chicagoans, and what makes that special.

Chicago’s complicated, and we’re still learning to face our racial history, how we treat one another, and what the future should hold. This book glances at that, but marches steadily toward something we can all agree on: Chicago, this city, our city, maybe the most American city with its frontier past and chin jutted permanently out, is a beautiful rascal.

By telling the city’s story through its landmarks and the people behind them, Theresa marches us through swamps, massacres, cholera, double-dealing, fires, greed, ambition, ingenuity, gumption, along a path leading from a muddy patch of woods between two great North American water systems to a city that has always reached higher into the sky, and still does, that has always attracted people from around the world, and still does, that has always sought to define its better self — then build it — and still does. Theresa’s writing always made you feel like you were riding shotgun on a fun adventure, and still does.

Buy the book, have it on your shelf, and take a walk around the block with her.

James Janega, Editor and Co-Author of Chicago Lives: Men and Women Who Shaped Our City

This book is a masterpiece of history and a travelogue that will inspire you to visit the landmarks you have not seen, and to go back to those that you have.

See the full review here

Cindy Ladage, Traveling Adventures of a Farm Girl

This book on the designated “living landmarks” of Chicago is not just a history of buildings, the origins and evolution of the skyscraper, hotels, stores, municipal buildings, bridges, and commercial marts, but is also chock-full of personal anecdotes about the settlers, movers and shakers, architects, designers, builders, and resulting magnificent city itself.

The unusual twists of a city’s growth, the natural and financial disasters, the determination of owners and builders to rebuild after disasters (like the Fire of 1871, the financial crash of 1893, and the long years of the Depression), make this a page-turner.

I have read many histories of this, my favorite US city, and I could not put Theresa L. Goodrich’s book down. It should be available in every living landmark, at every city hotel (especially now that places like The Palmer House and The Drake have reopened.) It should be required reading for city administrators, high school history classes, and tourism bureaus. Brilliant book.


I started the book with the intention of reading one or two chapters, thinking that I’d probably do that every day as part of my morning ‘ritual.’ Instead, I found myself about halfway through the book before I realized how much I had read.

Goodrich has a unique and special voice as an author. She is first and foremost a storyteller, and her style combines a quirky sense of humor with a historian’s thirst for facts. Rather than being a dull “and then, and then, and then” kind of history book, this one reads like an adventure tale. After the first few pages, you will find yourself fascinated and wanting to read more.

Chicago has a weird, twisty, sometimes dark yet ultimately uplifting history – and Goodrich perfectly captures all of the strange dichotomies that have made Chicago such a unique place. You can feel her passion and love for the city on every page, and it draws the reader in rather like she was sitting there telling you the story in person.

Such an enjoyable read!


Theresa is a wonderful story teller. Her humor in addition to her in depth history of these amazing landmarks keeps you begging for more. Picking up the book for the first time I thought I would skim through the first chapter or two, 5 chapters later I only put it down to write this review. Anyone who enjoys the history behind these landmarks must pick up this book!!!


Theresa L. Goodrich’s writing is so delicious it makes it hard to put the book down. She weaves history and humor in a very engaging way. I’ve been a Chicagoan for 20 years and I see this glorious with fresh eyes through this delightful, thorough, and well-written guide.

Heidi Kohz

A book about my favorite city? I’ve had a love affair with Chicago for as long as I can remember, and I’ve read nearly every book I could get my hands on – fact, fiction, and all the anecdotal tales in between.

For many years, I was a well-paid private railcar chef for some of Chicago’s wealthiest industrialists. Often, I’d overhear beguiling stories about people and landmarks, and I was eager to learn more. Between trips, I spend myriad days on the cars in the railyards on South Roosevelt. Sometimes, with a big fat cash tip in my pocket, I’d haul my tired body to a luxury hotel to be pampered for a day or two. I’d dig deep to learn more about this historical city, its brick and mortar landmarks, and the people responsible during these times. Finally, twenty years later, it’s as though Goodrich read my mind and handed me the goods in “Living Landmarks of Chicago.”

A meticulous researcher and a gifted storyteller, she combines her talents to weave important historical facts with little-known morsels that bring these legends to life. For instance, I learned that one of my favorite sweets (brownies) was created by the chef in one of my favorite hotels (Palmer House) because owner Bertha wanted guests to have a “handheld dessert!”

Tea at the iconic Palm Court, Drake Hotel, and lunch at the historic Walnut Room, Marshall Fields (sorry Macy’s) will be even richer experiences on my next visit, thanks to Goodrich’s insightful knowledge of these timeless beauties.

I’ve spent hundreds of hours in Union Station, in rail cars, parked on the river track, under the old Harvey House and the Great Hall. Finally, I know their storied history. I don’t remember all fifty of the landmarks Goodrich chose, but, I’m so fascinated, I now endeavor to visit each one.

M. Pilgeram

Sweet home Chicago… as a die hard Chicagoan, I fell in love with my city so long ago. She is a rugged beauty, this city of mine. She takes no prisoners, does not suffer fools or blowhards, and she holds many things secret. Enter Theresa Goodrich, with her sharp wit, prodigious research, and unabashed affection for this city, warts and all.

The Living Landmarks is part love letter, part history lesson, 100% delightful read. You think you know Chicago? Think again. In Living Landmarks, Goodrich takes the reader on a scavenger hunt through Chicago, a hunt like no other. Some landmarks are well known, yet Goodrich uncovers their best kept secrets. Some other landmarks fly under the radar, yet the author shines a well-deserved spotlight on them with her signature storytelling style. Each chapter is more captivating than the next.

Pick up the book and fall in love with Chicago all over again. I most certainly did.

Gourmet Rambler

As a history major, my favorite professors all through college were those who made it fun, made it real. That’s what this author does…presenting Chicago’s background and back stories in best storytelling form. Whether you know and love Chicago or have never been…you’ll learn something, recall something and laugh at something. These tales and tidbits of places like the Palmer House, Museum of Science and Industry, the aquarium and the iconic train station were walks down memory lane for me…as well as many ‘aha’ moments about things I never knew. I’m from Kalamazoo, a mere two-hour car or Amtrak ride away. My grandson and I rode the Southwest Chief to Union Station a couple years ago…it was undergoing renovations. I was delighted to learn it’s been fully restored and completed in the Union Station Today section. The chapters in this book are short and easy to read, with a Today update included for each!

Tracy W.

This is a great book for finding out more of the details about the wonderful city of Chicago! Great for natives and tourists alike, engaging and well thought out! Loved it!


I love Chicago books.
This is definitely one of the best.
Great stories about landmark buildings of Chicago. The author has done a great job researching and writing.
Highest recommendation

#1 Cleveland Fan