Crane’s World: Chicago Now Has More Tower Cranes Building Residential Projects Than Any Other City in the USA

From your Wanda Vistas to your Wacker Drive towers, the downtown Chicago skyline is well on its way toward a transformation. But in one sense, it’s already arrived. Chicago has more cranes working on residential construction than any other city in the country.

Chicago has 56 active cranes, with 31 of those currently building residential construction, according to the Wall Street Journal. The “crane tally,” compiled late last year and published last week, found Seattle in second place (23 residential cranes). Chicago more than tripled the third-place city, Denver, which sports 10 residential cranes in operation. Overall, Seattle has the most, residential or otherwise (think office space, etc.), with a total of 62 long arms of industry.

The residential boom isn’t strictly isolated to the Loop and its near neighbors. You can see major projects in some tony North Side neighborhoods and the Near South Side in this Curbed map. But there’s no question that the vast majority of the development is clustered around the busy downtown district—one of the few areas in the city that was already embracing housing density.

The nation-leading tally only underscores further the tale-of-two-Chicagos narrative. As construction booms in the heart of the city’s economic engine, the city continues its steady-drip population decline overall. The Chicago area lost more residents than another U.S. county last year, according to census data released last week. Studies point toward a bulk of that flight coming from low-earning households.

BY STEPHEN GOSSETT IN