Friday, May 23, 2008

Night in Chicago--part 3 of 3

It's been a nice visit to Old Chicago via these postcards. These three complete the series.

The Encyclopedia of Chicago online has this to say about the Siegel, Cooper & Co. building:

This discount department store, located on State Street in Chicago's Loop, was established in 1887 by Henry Siegel, Frank H. Cooper, and Isaac Keim. In 1891, the company moved into the Siegel, Cooper & Co. Building on State and Van Buren Streets. The eight-story building, designed by William Le Baron Jenney and internationally recognized as one of the early “Chicago School” skyscrapers, was however not nearly as opulent as the company's New York store, designed by DeLemos & Cordes and located on Sixth Avenue on what was known as the “Ladies' Mile.” By 1900, the “Big Store,” as Siegel was popularly known, employed about 2,000 people. In 1913–14 Siegel's stores, along with those of other merchants, were reorganized into the Associated Dry Goods Corp. with the help of J. P. Morgan. The Chicago store closed around 1930, its building soon occupied by Sears & Roebuck's flagship store.
Of the building under the Sears & Roebuck's name the encyclopedia says:
In 1932, the company moved into its famous flagship store on State and Van Buren Streets in Chicago's Loop, where it would remain until 1986.
I found that the building is also known as The Leiter II Building and read good news at Chicago Landmarks: it was designated an historic landmark in 1997 and is the city's oldest surviving department store!

In an article about the Hotel LaSalle, Jazz Age Chicago contributes links to pictures and offers interesting information, including:
During the first half of the twentieth century, few Chicago hotels rivalled the grand Hotel LaSalle in the heart of Chicago's government and financial district. The twenty-two story structure, located on the northwest corner of LaSalle and Madison Streets, was built in 1909. It was touted as the finest, safest, and most modern hotel anywhere outside New York City.

. . . hotels such as the LaSalle increasingly catered to female guests as much as male guests. Nineteenth-century hotels had traditionally been male-dominated public spaces, where politicians, financiers, salesmen, and newspapermen gathered to smoke cigars, have a drink, and socialize with one another. After the turn of the century, however, middle-class prosperity and transportation improvements afforded women greater mobility, both within the city and between major cities. In response to these trends, major hotels looked for ways to replace their smoke-filled, male-only image with one that women would find sufficiently respectable to earn their patronage.

The LaSalle suffered a devastating blow to its prestige in 1946, however. On the night of June 5, a raging fire swept though much of the hotel and claimed the lives of sixty-one persons, including many children.

The LaSalle, still structurally sound, was quickly refurbished, though not quite to its former splendor. It remained in operation until July of 1976. The hotel was demolished soon thereafter. The site is now occupied by the Two North LaSalle office building.

I'm sorry to use Wikipedia's description of the New Federal Building because of all the indexing it includes, but it's the best condensed information I could find:
The Chicago Federal Building in Chicago, Illinois was constructed from 1898-1905 for the purpose of housing the midwest's federal courts, main post office, and other government bureaus. On the location of the Chicago Federal Building stood a 1879 government building which was demolished to make way for the new building.[1]

The building was designed in the Beaux-Arts[1] style by architect Henry Ives Cobb. . . The Chicago Federal Building consisted of a total of 16 floors[3] (a height of 297 ft (100 m)), 8 of which were housed in its massive dome, and a basement. The foundation was supported by wooden pile driven 72 feet below street level.[4]

More than $2,000,000 were spent on the interior decoration of the Chicago Federal Building.[2] The interior was topped off with a 300 ft (100 m) high octagonal rotunda, inspired by Imperial Roman architecture[4] covered with a large Romanesque-style dome. The rotunda's 100 ft (30.48 m) diameter made it larger than that of the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C.[2] The federal building was also the tallest capitol-style building constructed in Chicago, with the exception of the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition buildings, all of which were demolished.[5] Under the dome, there was a large public space with separate floors around the perimeter.[5] The building was demolished in 1965, and the 45-floor Kluczynski Federal Building, designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, was built in its place.

There's a lot to appreciate about the historic buildings that have survived in small towns and large cities in the U.S. I wish Americans had a higher opinion of old architecture, and I applaud those individuals who are involved in the fight to save these buildings. What do you think future generations would rather have, well-preserved and protected historic buildings -- each unique, and many of them works of art -- or crumbling strip malls and tacky combo KFC/Taco Bell drive-through boxes? Oh, don't even get me started on subdivisions . . .


Adam said...

Haha! I wish we would actually go somewhere for once. But I shouldnt say that because I did go to Chicago while my sister was at camp, and my little sister went somewhere while I was at camp...

No, we are not going on a family trip, rather, everybody is flying in for my sisters bat mitzvah. Very exciting.


Lydia said...

Hi Adam,

I hope you blog about her bat mitzvah the way you did about Passover.
Good luck with those finals.



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