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John M. Flaxman Library SAIC School of the Art Institute of Chicago

Where to Find Resources (by type)

Where to Find Chicago Images

Many of the websites listed below are free sites created by individuals that include quirky views of the Chicago area. You'll also find a few library databases in the list as well, e.g. Chicago Tribune.  ARTIC login required for some of the resources on this list.

Architectural Drawings

Finding Architectural Drawings of Chicago-Area Buildings


Elevations and floorplans can be found in a number of places within Ryerson & Burnham Libraries.  Explore these options before you visit.

  1. Search Ryerson & Burnham libraries digital collections. Type architectural drawing and an architect's last name into the search box
  2. Browse the finding aids to locate drawings at Ryerson that are not digitized. 
    1. choose "Burnham Library-University of Illinois Project to Microfilm..." from the menu, and then select the document with "Appendix" at the top of the page in order to view a list of architects and buildings included in this microfilm project of over 11,000 drawings
    2. browse the finding aid list to find other architects and collections in addition to the microfilm project
  3. Check architectural magazines.  Search the Avery Index to Architectural Periodicals and the Burnham Index (in Ryerson, call no. Z5944.U5 B87) to identify citations. Both libraries have many of these magazines. Inland Architect is particularly good for early Chicago building plans.
  4. Check individual archival collections at Ryerson. Browse digitized items by collection here
  5. The museum’s Architecture and Design Department collection of drawings is inventoried and accessible by librarians at Ryerson & Burnham libraries; check the plan a visit page  to make an appointment.
  6. Search either Flaxman or Ryerson's catalog for books on specific architects or buildings; sometimes plans and drawings are included. Particularly useful are the Historic American Buildings Survey books, also digitized by the Library of Congress here.
  7. Additionally, the Chicago History Museum has plans and drawings for Chicago-area buildings.