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The American Skyscraper: Transforming Chicago and the Nation

Landmarks of American History and Culture Workshops for School Teachers

Postmark Deadline: March 1, 2012

“The American Skyscraper: Transforming Chicago and the Nation” consists of two one-week NEH Landmarks of American History and Culture Workshops held during summer 2012 for eighty school teachers on the development of the skyscraper in Chicago and the relationship of such buildings to urbanization. Between 1885 and 1895, as technological innovations (elevators, the steel frame, and fireproof building materials, among others) made tall buildings both physically possible and commercially feasible, Chicago experienced a skyscraper boom. This workshop hosted by the Chicago Architecture Foundation (CAF) focuses on the central question: How does the rise of the skyscraper stimulate and reflect change in American life? Participants examine the city’s geographical features, as well as the interplay of cultural, philosophical, and aesthetic influences that marked the evolution of Chicago’s built landscape from the 1880s through the present. Teachers visit several landmark buildings and architectural firms throughout Chicago’s “Loop.” Lecture/discussion sessions with historian Henry Binford (Northwestern University) and architectural historians Katherine Solomonson (University of Minnesota) and Joanna Merwood-Salisbury (Parsons The New School for Design), as well as with practicing architects, advance exploration of the complexities of the tall building boom. Readings include selections from (among other works) William Cronan, Nature’s Metropolis: Chicago and the Great West; Donald Miller, City of the Century: The Epic of Chicago and the Making of America; Daniel Bluestone, Constructing Chicago; and Carl Sandburg, Chicago Poems. Participants receive CAF’s Schoolyards to Skylines: Teaching with Chicago’s Amazing Architecture.

Dates: Chicago, IL: July 8–14 or July 22–28
Grantee Institutions: Jean Linsner, Chicago Architecture Foundation
Location: Chicago Loop including: Santa Fe Building, Sears Tower, Fisher Building, Marquette Building, Monadnock Building, Manhattan Building, Field Building, the Rookery, the Auditorium Building, Sullivan Center (formerly Carson Pirie Scott), Tribune Tower, the Reliance Building, and Federal Center

About NEH Landmarks of American History: Workshops for School Teachers

The National Endowment for the Humanities is an independent grant-making agency of the federal government. As part of the NEH’s We the People program, we offer the following Landmarks of American History and Culture Workshops for School Teachers. NEH Landmarks of American History and Culture Workshops provide the opportunity for K-12 educators to engage in intensive study and discussion of important topics in American history and culture. These one-week programs will give participants direct experiences in the interpretation of significant historical and cultural sites and the use of archival and other primary evidence. Landmarks Workshops present the best scholarship on a specific landmark or related cluster of landmarks, enabling participants to gain a sense of the importance of historical places, to make connections between what they learn in the Workshop and what they teach, and to develop enhanced teaching or research materials.

Amount of Award

Teachers selected to participate will receive a stipend of $1,200 at the end of the residential Workshop session. Stipends are intended to help cover living expenses, books, and travel expenses to and from the Workshop location.


These projects are designed principally for classroom teachers and librarians in public, charter, independent, and religiously-affiliated schools, as well as home schooling parents. Other K-12 school personnel, including administrators, substitute teachers, and classroom professionals, are eligible to participate, subject to available space.

Teachers at schools in the United States or its territorial possessions or Americans teaching in foreign schools where at least 50 percent of the students are American nationals are eligible for this program. Applicants must be United States citizens, residents of U.S. jurisdictions, or foreign nationals who have been residing in the United States or its territories for at least the three years immediately preceding the application deadline. Foreign nationals teaching abroad at non-U.S. chartered institutions are not eligible to apply.

Applicants must complete the NEH application and provide all of the information requested to be considered eligible.

New this year: An individual may apply to up to two NEH Summer Programs in any one year (Landmarks Workshops, Summer Seminars, or Summer Institutes), but may participate in only one. Please note that eligibility criteria differ significantly between the Landmarks Workshops and the Seminars and Institutes Programs.

How to Apply

Please e-mail, telephone or send by U.S. Post a request for application information and expanded Workshop descriptions to the Landmarks directors listed here; in many cases, these materials will also be available on project Web sites. You may request information about as many Workshops as you like, and, as noted above, you may apply to up to two programs but participate in only one.