Our Story

The story of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 isn’t really about the fire. It’s about what happened next: A remarkable moment when the most brilliant engineers, architects and inventors came together to build a new city. Their innovations – born of passion and practical ingenuity – shaped not just Chicago, but the modern world. What started 140 years ago continues to this day.

Chicago’s brightest digital designers, engineers and entrepreneurs are shaping new technologies, disrupting old business models, and resetting the boundaries of what’s possible. If that sounds like you, join us.

Come to a place where you can share ideas, make mistakes, work hard, build your business and, with a little luck, change the world.

Welcome to 1871.



Let’s face it: the garage is overrated. It’s cold in the winter, hot in the summer, and lonely all year-round. It’s hard to build a successful business, and it’s even harder if you’re not plugged in to a community of people who can become mentors, partners, investors, developers, customers and friends. That’s what 1871 is – a community of designers, coders and entrepreneurs who learn from each other, encourage each other, and share a journey up the steep startup learning curve.


Education & Inspiration

Building and learning go hand in hand. Tenants and members of 1871 have priority access to hundreds of classes, lectures, seminars and other programs designed to educate and inspire. From classes specifically designed to empower entrepreneurs, to talks from leading business-builders, technologists and designers, to inspirational sessions from artists and others, 1871 offers a full range of content and programming.


Co-Working Space

Three types of co-working memberships offer choices for entrepreneurs in different stages of building their businesses. Reserved co-working members have their own desks and storage; shared co-working members have round-the-clock access to the space; and night/weekend members have access in the evenings and on weekends. Click here for more information on the membership tiers, benefits and pricing.


Becoming a Member

Applicants should be digital entrepreneurs serious about building their businesses. Click here for an application or here for more information.


Our Sponsors

1871 is a not-for-profit, community endeavor. Rent from our members will not cover the costs of operations, so we rely on sponsors to make 1871 possible. Click here if you’d like to inquire about sponsorship packages.


Follow 1871

1871 is located on the 12th floor of the historic Merchandise Mart and opened for business on May 2, 2012. Join our mailing list for updates. Follow us on Twitter. Like us on Facebook. And, of course, stay tuned to Built in Chicago for updates.

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