Preservation Chicago Posts Full Unabridged Chicago Historic Resources Survey (CHRS) on Website as Research Resource

In an effort to make the long out-of-print Chicago Historic Resources Survey more accessible for research and review, Preservation Chicago has scanned the entire 600+ plus pages of the survey and posted them on the Preservation Chicago website. They are currently broken into chapters and sub-chapters of Community Areas and Neighborhoods. Online magazine-style reader is underway and will be live soon.
Link to Preservation Chicago Website Chicago Historic Resources Survey

Adapted from the Chicago Landmarks CHRS Portal. The Chicago Historic Resources Survey (CHRS), completed in 1995, was a decade-long research effort by the City of Chicago to analyze the historic and architectural importance of all buildings, objects, structures, and sites constructed in the city prior to 1940. During 12 years of field work and follow-up research that started in 1983, CHRS surveyors identified approximately 9,900 properties which were considered to have some historic or architectural importance.

A color-coded ranking system was used to identify historic and architectural significance relative to age, degree of external physical integrity, and level of possible significance. Buildings and structures coded “Red” or “Orange” (unless designated as a Chicago Landmark or located within a Chicago Landmark District) are subject to the City of Chicago’s Demolition-Delay Ordinance, adopted by City Council in 2003.

RED Rated = Possess some architectural feature or historical association.
Included in Red category are buildings, structures and monuments which are of great significance to Chicago or the world of architecture-“on the world stage of architecture.” Some of these buildings are recognized as world monuments and include such examples as The Auditorium Building, Charnley House and Pilgrim Baptist Church/KAM Synagogue by Adler & Sullivan, The Schlesinger & Mayer/Carson Pirie Scott Store/Sullivan Center and the Gage Group by Louis Sullivan, The Rookery and Monadnock Buildings, by Burnham & Root, The Old Colony Building, the Marquette by Holabird & Roche, Second Leiter Store and the Manhattan Building by William Lebaron Jenney, The Railway Exchange Building, Marshall Field & Company Store and the Fisher Building by D. H. Burnham & Company, the Robie House, Heller House and Roloson Houses, by Frank Lloyd Wright and 860-880 N. Lake Shore Drive by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. These are all examples of world-renowned buildings that are considered red-rated in the city’s Chicago Historic Resources Survey.

ORANGE Rated = Possesses potentially significant architectural or historical features.
Included in Orange category are buildings such as the Palmer House Hotel by Holabird & Roche, The Standard Club by Albert Kahn, the Chicago Motor Club and the Boston Store by Holabird & Roche/Root, many of Chicago’s finest religious buildings, The Chicago Athletic Association Hotel by Henry Ives Cobb, Orchestra Hall by D. H. Burnham & Company, many fine quality historic buildings both in the Central Business District/Loop/Near North Side, as well as within neighborhoods and communities around Chicago. There were about 10,000 orange-rated buildings when the Chicago Historic Resources Survey was undertaken. Many of the orange-rated buildings are of local significance to the city, community or by an architect of significance or of fine craftsmanship.

YELLOW Rated = Too altered for architectural or historic significance.
Buildings that are yellow could be compromised with alterations, but can also be considered buildings that would complement those that are orange-rated in perhaps a Chicago Landmark District. While they may be altered with siding, if wood-frame construction, they still may be of integrity, but not at the same level as other examples which are orange or perhaps even green.

GREEN Rated = Properties are pre-1940s whose exteriors have been slightly altered from their original condition.
While green-rated properties are slightly altered from their original condition, they are also buildings that may have been part of an earlier 1970s-era ISS- Illinois State Survey of important buildings, which may have also been placed in this category, if not fitting the requirements for orange or red ratings.

YELLOW/GREEN Rated = Properties are pre-1940s whose exteriors—at the time of the survey—were covered with artificial siding, but which are part of a concentration of significant buildings.

PURPLE Rated = Properties are pre-1940s whose exteriors have been extensively altered from their original condition

BLUE Rated = Too recent for significant architectural or historic evaluation.

While these generally are post 1940s buildings, which were not surveyed, due to their newness in the 1980s and 1990s when the CHRS was produced, there are examples and exceptions to the rule at time. This is the case with 860-880 N. Lake Shore Drive by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, which were from 1948, but noted as red rated in the survey.

Additional information about the CHRS is available at or by contacting the Historic Preservation Division at (312) 744-3200.

Additional Reading

Link to Chicago Historic Resources Survey on Preservation Chicago Website

Link to City of Chicago CHRS Data Portal


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