Chicago in Stone and Clay explores the interplay between the city's most architecturally significant sites, the materials they're made of, and the sediments and bedrock they are anchored in. This unique geologist's survey of Windy City neighborhoods demonstrates the fascinating and often surprising links between science, art, engineering, and urban history.
Drawing on two decades of experience leading popular geology tours in Chicago, Raymond Wiggers crafted this book for readers ranging from the region's large community of amateur naturalists, "citizen scientists," and architecture buffs to geologists, architects, educators, and other professionals seeking a new perspective on the themes of architecture and urbanism.
Unlike most geology and architecture books, Chicago in Stone and Clay is written in the informal, accessible style of a natural history tour guide, humanizing the science for the nonspecialist reader. Providing an exciting new angle on both architecture and natural history, Wiggers uses an integrative approach that incorporates multiple themes and perspectives to demonstrate how the urban environment presents us with a rich geologic and architectural legacy.
Raymond Wiggers is a geologist, science writer, and retired college Earth and life sciences instructor. He is the author of Geology Underfoot in Illinois and three other books.
"[Chicago in Stone and Clay] adds a fascinating new layer of history to your brain that will change the way you see the city."
– Chicago Reader, Best Chicago Books of 2022
"As one who has had his eyes opened to the unexpected wonders to be found as the result of staring closely and intently as a stone wall, I very much hope that my readers will take the opportunity to investigate this handy new book, as well as – for those not in the Chicago area itself – to investigate their own local stone edifices to discover what geological surprises they may hold."
– The Well-read Naturalist
"If the reader has not had the privilege of attending a walking tour with Ray Wiggers, here is an opportunity to learn about Chicago's local treasures. This book is for the seasoned geologist as well as the casual scientific reader."
– Renee Wawczak, licensed Professional Geologist, State of Illinois
"Whether you are a novice exploring Chicago's rich architecture, or already own a library full of books on the subject, Wiggers's guide delights by entering uncharted territory – making style subordinate to the building material itself. You will never look at a building the same way again!"
– William Tyre, Executive Director and Curator, Glessner House