Posts Tagged ‘Marshall Fields’

During the first mile of the Chicago Marathon architectural tour we saw notable structures like Frank Gehry’s pedestrian bridge, Aqua, the NBC Tower and the Tribune Tower, as the route followed Columbus over the Chicago River to Grand Avenue. Most of the second mile is run on State Street, which houses a number of architecturally significant buildings.

 There is a lot going on architecturally at the State Street Bridge. First, look for the Marina Towers located at 300 N. State Street, just before going over the State Street Bridge. These twin towers – they look like concrete corncobs – are of the most recognized of Chicago architectural landmarks. These buildings are credited for spurring an architectural renaissance after their completion in 1967.

The Marina Towers will be on your right. As soon as you pass the Marina Towers, look to your left and straight up for an asymmetric reflective blue skyscraper. This is the Trump Tower one block over at 401 N Wabash Ave. The Trump Hotel, completed in 2009, is the newest addition to the Chicago skyline. It is also the second tallest building in the U.S., topped only by the Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower), which we will also see along the marathon route. This picture shows both the Marina Towers and Trump Tower.

The Trump Tower is interesting, but don’t spend too much time gawking at it. The Wrigley Building, at 400 N. Michigan Avenue, is directly across the river. Look for a gleaming white terra-cotta clad building with a clock tower. The Wrigley Building, completed in 1924, is an iconic Chicago building that is actually two buildings joined together at street-level and by a skywalk on the 14th floors.

After you cross the river and run 1.5 blocks, look to your left for the landmark Chicago Theatre located at 175 N. State Street. You can’t miss the big red iconic marquee. While the marquee initially commands your attention, make sure to look at the building behind the marquee. Its style is French Baroque and the State Street facade features a scaled-down replica of the Arc De Triomphe in Paris. The building opened in 1921, was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979 and then listed as a Chicago Landmark in 1983.

One block later on the same side of the street is Marshall Field & Co. (officially, it is now Macy’s) at 111 North State Street. This huge 12-story building, covering an entire city block, does nothing small. The Tiffany glass mosaic dome ceiling, covering 6,000 square feet of area, is the largest of its kind in the world. The columns at the State Street entrance are said to be the second largest monolithic columns in the world, second only to columns outside the Egyptian temple at Karnak. You won’t see these two interior design elements but you will see the two massive ornamental Great Clocks, found at the corners of State and Washington and State and Randolph.

The first Marshall Field’s building, located at the present site, was destroyed in the Chicago Fire of 1871. Most downtown Chicago buildings were destroyed. You will find only a handful of buildings that predate 1871.

“The Chicago School” style of commercial architecture rose from the ashes of the Chicago Fire. Steel-frame, masonry clad buildings, with large plate-glass windows and minimal exterior ornamentation were distinguishing features of this style.

The Reliance Building (now Hotel Burnham), at 32 N. State Street, epitomizes the Chicago School style. Architect and urban planner Daniel Burnham, along with John Root and Charles Atwood, created in 1895 what is now one of the city’s most significant architectural landmarks.

The Monadnock Building is another famous Chicago School building we will see later on the marathon route.

 No discussion of Chicago architecture – and especially the Chicago School of Architecture – is complete without Louis Sullivan. Considered one of America’s greatest architects, Sullivan is hailed as the creator of the modern skyscraper and was a mentor to Frank Lloyd Wright. Our last building on State Street, located at 1 S. State Street, is a Sullivan design.


The Sullivan Center (formerly the Carson, Pirie, Scott and Company Building) showcases Sullivan’s philosophy of form following function. Like many buildings of the Chicago School style, this steel-frame building is clad in terra cotta. The distinctive ornamentation on this building is a two-story high cast-iron storefront. Look for this at the corner of State and Monroe.

The Old St. Patrick’s Church on Adams Street was one of the few buildings to survive the Chicago Fire. Come back Friday for the last leg of our architectural Chicago Marathon tour, where the Old St. Patrick’s Church, Willis Tower, the Monadnock Building and other buildings will be highlighted before finishing at Buckingham Fountain back in Grant Park.