Traveling to the best cities in the U.S. is something you must add to your bucket list asap! It’s the best way to know new people, new cultures, new places, new gastronomy. To be honest, any reason is a wonderful reason to pack your bags, get into a plane and fly to new adventures, or you can just make a road trip, which is superb and allows you to make small detours anytime you feel like it. Among all these reasons, there are some niches and architecture is one of them.
You know, city architecture is like a fingerprint, something unique that will tell you a story about that city’s history. Who decided to build some massive tower in the middle of a city, what was it used for, what happened there when there were no tv cameras to record it? If you are an architecture enthusiast and want to know your own country better,
read this article as I’m about to tell you the 10 best cities in the U.S. for architecture lovers!
1. New York City, New York
Let’s start with the, probably, most known and one of the best cities in the U.S.: New York City! Every year people rush to be part of New Year’s Eve celebrations. True is that this U.S. city is almost completely covered by concrete, except for Central Park. And if this isn’t the place for nature lovers, architecture lovers will have the time of their life in this city. Some of the buildings I’ll mention are as good from the inside, as well from the outside: Empire State Building and Chrysler Building if Art Deco is something you love; neoclassical style is powered by the Museum of Modern Art, the Woolworth Building, or even the Metropolitan Museum of Art. If gothic is your style, you have to see Trinity Church and St. Patrick’s Cathedral. And, of course, you MUST visit where once you could find the World Trade Center and contemplate the monument built to honor all those who lost their lives in 2001.
2. Charleston, South Carolina
If church architecture is something that moves you, visiting Charleston, SC, will make your day! There is one reason this city is also known as “Holy City.” Charleston is also known to be very rigid when it comes to historic preservation, like churches, Civil War sites, and houses.
You can find historic homes from different eras, such as Victorian, Federal, Italianate, Greek Revival, Adamesque, and Classic Georgian. So, if historic preservation is your favorite architecture style, Charleston is the place to visit.
3. Santa Fe, New Mexico?
Unlike other cities, concrete is not what you’ll find in here. Instead, you’ll find reddish-brown brick walls, clay tiles, and andiron trims as decorations. The houses are not the angular you’re used to, but with soft, organic, and smooth corners, Pueblo Revival Style. This Wild West concept, architecturally speaking, is what makes Sante Fe different from other cities of North America. The San Miguel Chapel, the Georgia O’Keefe Museum, or the Palace of Governors are surely places all architecture lovers must visit.
4. Washington, DC
Washington, DC is the capital of America’s Nation, and just for this, it deserves a visit from everyone, architecture lovers or not. Let’s start with the White House, the splendor of Neoclassical. What about memorials? The Pentagon Memorial, the World War II Memorial, and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial are waiting for you. Emblematic people? Lincoln Memorial, Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, or Thomas Jefferson Memorial, just to name a few. The National Gallery of Art will impress you even before you enter those majestic doors. As you can see, there are a lot to choose from when visiting Washington, DC, but I’ll tell you what you really cannot miss if you’re fascinated by architecture and you want to take something off from your bucket list: the National Mall!
5. San Francisco, California
Victorian-style buildings, built in the late 1800s, are what you’ll find the most on the steep and hilly streets of San Francisco. What’s the signature of these houses? Ornate gingerbread trims below lovely bay windows. Looking at all those lined houses will make you feel you’re inside a real-life painting. Fans of the Victorian style will have a blast looking at them; fans of Gothic Revival should head to Nob Hill and check Grace Cathedral; Tudor Revival’s fans will find what they’re looking for around the Presidio Heights neighborhood. Architecture lovers of modern style also have a couple of options for admiring futuristic buildings, such as the Transamerica Pyramid or Guggenheim Museum’s predecessor: Xanadu Gallery.
6. Boston, Massachusetts
It was also known as “The Puritan City” – a name influenced by Puritan settlers that arrived in 1962 from England. Boston is another U.S. city that will offer a lot to architecture lovers, such as the emblematic Trinity Church, the first big work from Henry Hobson Richardson, who gave birth to the Richardsonian Romanesque. Other architecture buildings from other styles, from Federalist-style to more modern and brutalist-style or surrealist, you can visit Massachusetts State House and Faneuil Hall, the Boston Government Center and Lindemann Center, the Kresge Auditorium, and the Ray and Maria Santa Center.
7. Palm Springs, California
Do you love mid-century modernism? Then this is the place to be. Yes, Palm Springs is a desert-like place, but that inspired architects like Albert Frey, John Lautner, and Richard Neutra to create what they named as ‘desert modernism.’ What is the best thing you can get when you live in a dry and – very – sunny climate? Very large glass doors, practical shaded verandas, and priceless outdoor pools. This is what you’ll find where Priscila and Elvis Presley spend their honeymoon! Frey’s Palm Spring City Haal, William Krisel’s “House of Tomorrow, and Neutra’s Desert House is something you gotta see.
8. New Orleans, Louisiana
Heavily influenced by Caribbean, Spanish and French styles, New Orleans is one of the best cities in the U.S. for architecture lovers. And the Creole townhouses are probably it’s the most charismatic and representative architectural buildings. These were built in 1788, after the Great New Orleans Fire. More than this, there are other architectural styles that will fulfill the mind of those who go there. The romantic-looking Miltenberger Houses, the Renaissance Spanish Colonial-style St. Louis Cathedral, or the Doullut Steamboat Houses reflect all the multicultural heritage you can find in New Orleans.
9. Detroit, Michigan
Detroit has, probably, the most recognizable skylines from all U.S. cities. With lots of late-19th and early-20th century buildings, its downtown core has been well conserved and protected by both architects and preservationists. Names like Louis Kamper, Gordon Lloyd, Albert Kahn, Wirt C. Rowland, and Philip Johnson (among others) did notable works in this city.
The Book Building and Book Cadillac Hotel, the Fisher Building, The Penobscot Building, the Guardian Building, and the One Detroit Center are truly places where Italian Renaissance-style, Art Deco style, and post-modern Neo is where Gothic style can be appreciated!
10. Chicago, Illinois
Chicago is another perfect city for all architecture lovers since it has a great history of architectural experimentation. Because of this, we can say that this city created two styles: the ‘Chicago School’ and ‘Second Chicago School’ style. The first one is related to the commercial skyscrapers built-in 1880-1890s, using steel-framed construction as people had seen before. The second go around 60 to 80 years forward, using the tube-structure and its new structural systems. So, what should you visit in Chicago? The S.R. Crown Hall at the Illinois Institute of Technology, the LakeShore Apartments, the Brutalist Marina city, the Tribune Tower, where you can see fragments of other famous buildings such as the Taj Mahal or the Great Wall of China.