Watching the Watchers: The Webcams on Chicago’s Skyscrapers

Internet cameras have been around longer than the world wide web. We installed one of the planet’s first public webcams way back during the Clinton administration. It showed the Houston skyline as a hurricane swept through the city. Not many people watched it, largely because there weren’t that many people who had computers capable of streaming internet video back then. Things have changed, and now you can use your telephone to watch a live stream of people looting an Apple Store on the other side of the planet while you ponder the future of democracy in your bathrobe. Ain’t technology grand?

An EarthCam installation atop North Harbor Tower
An EarthCam installation atop North Harbor Tower (Courtesy of YoChicago!)

Today there are a brazillion web cams all around the globe, and many of them allow you to watch construction sites. If you’ve ever wondered what those web cams look like, YoChicago! sent in this photograph of an EarthCam rig on top of North Harbor Tower keeping an electric eye on the construction of Cirrus and Cascade at Lakeshore East.

Unlike a quadcopter, web cams work 24/7 and in all weather conditions.
Unlike a quadcopter, web cams work 24/7 and in all weather conditions.

We couldn’t find a public link to this machine on EarthCam’s web site, so it’s possible this one is a private feed. Bankers, security companies, insurance companies, and other interested parties like to keep an eye on things when tens of millions of dollars are on the line. And hiring a firm like EarthCam to put in a remote solution is a heck of a lot easier than hiring The Little Rascals to watch steam shovels through a knothole in a wooden fence.

Location: 175 North Harbor Drive, The Loop

Author: Editor

Editor founded the Chicago Architecture Blog in 2003, after a long career in journalism. He can be reached at

Share This Post On