Construction Projects of the 1920s
With the 2020s only beginning (and not off to a great start), we thought we would have a look back at the "Roaring Twenties", a time of artistic creativity, social progression, and crippling economic downturn. Instead of focusing on the Great Depression or the rise of totalitarianism in Europe however, we are going to take a more optimistic look at the 20s, examining some of the most inspiring and beautiful construction projects of the decade. Many great architectural strides were made in the years of skyscrapers and art deco, particularly in the USA, though they were by no means limited to that. In this article we will take a look at the decade's best and brightest.
Originally called the Balaban and Katz Chicago Theatre, the Chicago Theatre is a historic theatre built in Chicago, Illinois. The Chicago Theatre was built by Abe and Barney Balaban and Morris and Sam Katz, a group of theatre magnates who owned a chain of entertainment venues around America, and has been hosting shows, musicals. films and orchestra since its grand opening in 1921. The building has had its share of downturns, as with any old business, though has managed to stay active to the modern day after a series of buyouts and renovations. If you ever find yourself wanting to explore the city of Chicago, you can mark out the movie theatre by its massive signature neon sign, reading "Chicago", hanging bright and distinctive just over the building's entrance. Be prepared to wait though - it's a busy venue, and you'll be waiting in a long line of queueing barriers if you haven't prebooked your ticket.
The Lincoln Memorial was dedicated to the memory of President Abraham Lincoln in 1922. The Lincoln Memorial may be the most famous landmark on this list, being a culturally and historically significant work of architecture sat right across from the Washington Monument in Washington D.C. The Lincoln Memorial is built in the style of an ancient Greek temple, following the Neoclassical architectural style (which you can read about in previous D-Marc blogs), and was actually commissioned by Congress following the President's assassination in 1867. However, the matter was quickly forgotten about until about 50 years later, when the commission for the project was given to the architect Henry Bacon, who designed the building and oversaw its construction. Attending the opening of the building was Lincoln's only surviving son, then at the grand age of 78. Perhaps the most famous part of the memorial is the statue of Lincoln, depicted sitting on a great marble throne. Interestingly, his hands form the letters A and L in American Sign Language - debate is inconclusive on whether the architect did this by intention, however it is possible as he was familiar with sign language. The Lincoln Memorial since has played host to several important events in the course of the Civil Rights Movement in the USA, and remains an important part of the nation's capital today.
Now known as The Wolseley, Wolseley House was commissioned by Wolseley, a part of the influential Vickers motor company which produced machine guns and aircraft for the United Kingdom during both world wars. Wolseley House originally functioned as a car showroom and housed several offices, but was sold in 1926 after only 5 years of service after Wolseley fell into decline. It then served as a branch of Barclays Bank until 1999, complete with furniture designed in Japanese lacquer. The bank eventually sold the building and relocated to offices elsewhere in the city, and the building was turned into a Chinese restaurant called "the Orient at China House", however this only lasted for four years and was taken over by restaurant entrepreneurs Chris Corbin and Jeremy King, who culinary enthusiasts in the United Kingdom may be familiar with. This brought Wolseley House to its current incarnation, the Wolseley, a restaurant serving as an all-day cafe which has won numerous awards and even has a book written about it called "Breakfast at The Wolseley". The Wolseley is now one of the country's most profitable restaurants, drawing in £10 million in sales alone in 2007. It isn't cheap dining, but if you can afford it, the food and service is rated very highly by all critics.
Otherwise known as the Shukhov Tower after its designer Vladimir Shukhov, the Shabolovka Tower is a massive light-up broadcasting tower built soon after the end of the Russian Civil War and the establishment of the Soviet Union. Unusually extravagant for a tower of its function, the tower was primarily built out of a desire for new strides in architecture and creativity after the fall of the old Russian Empire and the foundation of the new communist system. The tower was built by decree from Lenin himself, and was greatly admired by the Russian avant garde movement, which had previously been ignored by the old Tsarist regime and looked forwards to the new USSR and the opportunities which it would provide for intellectuals and artists such as themselves. Unfortunately for them, it didn't turn out quite that way, as many of them were purged by Josef Stalin in his fits of paranoia in the 1930s. The tower, however, survived, though it is no longer available for tourists to visit.