It's hard to beat black-and-white for drama, as this Night in Chicago old postcard series demonstrates. I'm having a wonderful time zooming in on them and dreaming in the details.
More online research uncovers fascinating information about these buildings. The entire article about The Fair in Jazz Age Chicago - Urban Leisure from 1893 to 1945 is worth reading, but here are some excerpts for the time-crunched reader:
Firm founded 1875, bought out 1957
Loop store: South State Street at Adams Street
Built 1891, demolished 1984
The Fair was one of several major department stores that operated along Chicago's State Street during the early twentieth century and helped transform the city's Loop district into a bustling center of entertainment and leisure. Known for the affordability and practicality of its merchandise, The Fair never attracted the so-called "carriage trade." Instead, it catered primarily to Chicagoans of more modest incomes: middle-class professionals, working-class men and women, and first- and second-generation immigrants. One of the store's most widely dissiminated (sic) marketing slogans promised "'Everything for Everybody under one roof' at a cheap price."
The Rothschild & Co. building is shown in another vintage postcard view here. And another website says:
Maurice L. Rothschild Building, 300 South State Street, Holabird & Roche, 1906, 1910; Alfred S. Alschuler, 1928.
Maurice L. Rothschild, before he hired Holabird & Roche to build this State Street store, operated a successful retail clothing operation in Minneapolis and St. Paul. Taking advantage of the growth potential for department stores on State Street, he erected an eight-story building in 1906, added a section three windows wide along State in 1910, and four more floors in 1928 designed by Alfred S. Alschuler. The building's underlying steel skeleton made this expansion possible. The store kept its State Street operation until 1971.
In 1993, the building was converted by Daniel P. Coffey & Associates into shopping, rental offices, and an expansion of the Loop campus of DePaul University.
Online information concerning The Hearst Building in Chicago is scarce (quite the opposite for the Hearst Tower in New York City). William Randolph Hearst established two newspapers in Chicago, the Chicago American in 1900 and the Chicago Examiner in 1902. Excerpts from a book about Hearst are available at these Google Book Search pages, and include rich and prescient bites including:
In April 1900 Hearst plunged himself "into the vortex of Democratic politics," backing William Jennings Bryan to carry out his agenda. Believing the Democrats needed a major journal in the Midwest, Hearst promised to publish a newspaper in Chicago by July 4 - and the Chicago American was born. The old Steuben Wine Company building at 216 West Madison Street was rented and renovation began using 800 men "working round the-clock in three shifts. . . Soon thereafter Hearst ... arrived, along with **cartoonist Homer Davenport . . . Hearst quickly added to this nucleus by raiding rival papers . . . In this way the job was done. . . That evening (July 4, 1900) at the Democratic National Convention in Kansas City, hundreds of delegates waived Extras of Hearst's Chicago American 'in triumph' while preparing to nominate Bryan for president the next day."
** Coming upon this information was a great surprise for me, in that Homer Davenport is famous in the town where I live. He grew up here, is buried in the cemetery downtown, and each August we celebrate "Homer Davenport Days" with a parade, festival in the park, "davenport" races (yes, couches on wheels!), and great community spirit. I may blog about it later this summer.