40 Photos Show What Chicago Looked Like in the Mid-1990s

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In the 1990s, Chicago transformed itself from a would-be Rust Belt casualty to the global metropolis it is today. If you weren’t living in Chicago in the ’90s, you missed out on life.

Chicago in 1996
The decade didn’t start out so promisingly. In 1992, U.S. Steel South Works, which had once employed 20,000 workers in Chicago, produced its last bar of product. But that, as it turned out, was emblematic of Chicago’s economic past giving way to its future.
As Chicago became a destination for those new employees — and a whole lot of Big Ten graduates — it gained population in the 1990s, the only time since the 1950s a Midwestern metropolis has done so.
In the 1990s, Chicago was home to two of the most famous people in the world — Michael Jordan and talk show host Oprah Winfrey — and a person who would become more famous than both of them: Barack Obama, who won his first election, to the Illinois State Senate, in 1996, beginning a career that would help erase the city’s image for provincialism and corruption.
These wonderful photos were taken by Steven Martin that show what Chicago looked like in 1996.
Ontario Street, looking west from in front of the River North McDonald’s, Chicago, February 1996

Navy Pier at east end, Chicago, July 1996

Adams Street from Wabash Avenue, Chicago, July 1996

An old apartment building in the River North neighborhood, corner of Dearborn and Erie, Chicago, February 1996

Buckingham Fountain, Chicago, July 1996

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