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Furthermore, skyscrapers turned out to be very profitable investments. It is unlikely, however, that Chicago was unique in these respects, so there seems to be no clear reason why skyscrapers should have been built there before anywhere else. One can only speculate that Chicago's developers had few of the constraining pretensions ofthe capitalists of other major business centres; they saw architectural embellishment as a waste of money, they wanted value for their dollars, and they were willing to experiment with the new steel-frame skyscrapers to demonstrate their progressIVeness.

Most architectural histories treat the development of the modernist, angular, undecorated style, that eventually came to dominate office and institutional building in the 1960s and 1970s, as though it has been a smooth and rational progression from structural steel to reflecting glass cubes. Such histories are at best partial accounts of what happened. For much of the last hundred years it was by no means certain that undecorated modernism would triumph as it did, and urban landscapes bear substantial evidence of the enduring popularity of ornamental styles.

One can only speculate that Chicago's developers had few of the constraining pretensions ofthe capitalists of other major business centres; they saw architectural embellishment as a waste of money, they wanted value for their dollars, and they were willing to experiment with the new steel-frame skyscrapers to demonstrate their progressIVeness. This experiment firmly established what Lewis Mumford has called the architecture of 'the steel cage and the curtain wall' curtain wall because the walls no longer have to be load bearing, they are little more than curtains to keep out the inconsistencies of weather.

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