Tag Archives: Millennium Park

The Chicago Cultural Mile and the Loop Historic Retail District

Closeup of the northwest entrance to the Carso...

Closeup of the northwest entrance to the Carson, Pirie, Scott and Company Building at 1 South State Street at East Madison Street in Chicago, Illinois, also known as the Sullivan Center.

North of the Chicago River, Michigan Avenue is considered the “Magnificent Mile.” Michigan Avenue between the Chicago River and Roosevelt Road and Eastward to the Museum Campus is considered the “Cultural Mile” where you can find world-class museums, spectacular parks, art centers, educational institutions, and retailers in the heart of downtown.

Millennium Park starts on Michigan Avenue and covers 24.5 acres of northwestern Grant Park which is 319 acres of Lakefront paradise. There are 4 major artistic highlights in Millennium Park : the Jay Pritzker Pavilion, Cloud Gate, the Crown Fountain, and the Lurie Garden. Some of the other features include: McCormick Tribune Ice Skating Rink, the BP Pedestrian Bridge, the Joan W. and Irving B. Harris Theater for Music and Dance, Wrigley Square, the McDonald’s Cycle Center, the Exelon Pavilions, the AT&T Plaza, the Boeing Galleries, the Chase Promenade, and the Nichols Bridgeway.


Grant Park Chicago sculpture called Agora; Agora is an installation of 106 headless and armless iron sculptures at the south end of Grant Park designed by Polish artist Magdalena Abakanowicz.


Petrillo Music Shell in Grant Park

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Prior to the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, the street was officially known as Michigan Boulevard and often referred to as “Boul Mich” and North Michigan Avenue (especially the Magnificent Mile) was referred to as “Upper Boul Mich”. Paris‘s Boulevard Saint-Michel is the original Boul Mich. Chicago has plenty of Public Art, Fountains and historic landmarks along Michigan Avenue.


Buckingham Fountain in Chicago

Chicago hosts many interesting events, parades, food and music festivals and exhibits downtown including: Taste of Chicago, A Thanksgiving Parade, A festival of Holiday Lights, Chicago Gourmet and plenty of music Festivals.

The Bean in Chicago

There is an annual Major General John A. Logan Memorial Day Ceremony Commemoration honoring Veterans. The Chicago Cultural Mile Association event is held at the bronze Major General John Alexander Logan Monument with a  wreath laying ceremony that commemorates those who died serving our country. The event is held annually in Grant Park at Michigan Avenue and 9th Street. The spectacular monument was created by sculptors Augustus Saint-Gaudens and Alexander Phimister Proctor and architect Stanford White.

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The Loop is one of the Chicago’s 77 designated community areas and is the home of Chicago’s commercial core. It is the 2nd largest commercial district is the US after Midtown Manhattan in New York with plenty of business headquarters and famous buildings. The area has long been a hub for architectural marvels and artistic legacy. If you travel down State Street, you will realize why it is called “Chicago’s Great Street.” State Street became a shopping destination during the 1900s and is referred to in the song “Chicago,” sung by Frank Sinatra when he refers it to “State Street, that great street.”

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The vast majority of the area was destroyed by the Great Chicago Fire in 1871 but was quickly rebuilt. The skyscraper was invented in Chicago in 1884 when William LeBaron Jenny designed the Home Insurance Building.

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It  was the first building entirely supported by an interior metal frame. It is generally considered the world’s first skyscraper. It was constructed using a steel-frame with curtain walls instead of load-bearing walls. The building has been demolished and replaced by a sleek, art-deco high rise building called the Field Building.  It was completed in 1934 and was the last high rise building completed in Chicago before the Great  Depression and World War II. There wasn’t another high-rise built in Chicago until 1957.

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The construction of the 535 foot tall Field Building was completed 1934 by the architectural firm of  Graham, Anderson, Probst & White. It is considered the last major office building erected in Chicago prior to the Great Depression/World War II construction hiatus which ended with the building of One Prudential Plaza in 1955 known as the Prudential Building.

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Many of the latest innovations such as high-speed elevators and air conditioning were incorporated into the Field Building’s design. The lobby features a multi-level arcade between LaSalle and Clark Streets allowing pedestrians to walk between the two streets and access the retail space without exiting the building. The elevator indicator panel and mailbox in the lobby are in an integrated design which resembles the building’s exterior shape.

The building rises from a four-story base that covers the entire site. The exterior of the first story is faced in polished black granite. Windows are framed with polished aluminum and have black and polished aluminum spandrel panels. The entrances on the east and west facades rise the entire height of the base and are also framed in black granite. Five pilasters faced in white Yule marble separate the bays containing revolving doors that provide access to the lobby.

The upper stories are sheathed in limestone with windows grouped vertically and recessed to emphasize the building’s height. The 45-story rectangular tower is centered on the base and buttressed by a shorter 22-story tower at each of its four corners

The development of the Chicago school of architecture is best exemplified by such buildings as the red granite Rookery Building (1888) located at 209 S. LaSalle Street. It is one of Chicago’s most magnificent buildings with a gorgeous interior light court re-designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and a grand spiraling cast iron staircase.


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The Monadnock Building (1891) located at 53 W. Jackson Boulevard with the load bearing granite base supporting the full weight of  the building’s 16-story walls.


The Sullivan Center (1899) was completed in 1903 on State Street at Madison; formerly the Carson, Pirie, Scott and Company department store building. It was converted to a Target Store in 2012. Louis Sullivan’s broad expanses of glass were perfect for displaying merchandise.The building has been used for retail purposes since 1899, and has been a Chicago Landmark since 1975.

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The Sullivan Center was designed by Louis Sullivan for the retail firm Schlesinger & Mayer in 1899, and expanded by him and subsequently sold to H.G. Selfridge & Co. in 1904. That firm occupied the structure for only a matter of weeks before it sold the building (the land under it was owned at the time by Marshall Field) to Otto Young, who then leased it to Carson Pirie Scott for $7,000 per month. Subsequent additions were completed by Daniel Burnham in 1906 and Holabird & Root in 1961.

The northern part of State Street has become a thriving Theater District.

The Theater District is adjacent to the The Loop Retail Historic District; this shopping district is between Lake Street and Congress Parkway; and State Street to Wabash. It is packed with landmarks like the Marshall Field and Company Building (now Macy’s at State Street) and the “Block 37” shopping extravaganza at 108 North State Street. In the image below, you can see Thompson’s original 1830 58-block plat of Chicago. In September 2008, the mixed-use 16-story building held a ribbon-cutting ceremony and has plenty of shops and a theater.

The Loop Retail Historic District includes 74 contributing buildings and structures, including 13 separately listed Registered Historic Places, and 22 non-contributing buildings.

Chicago's Palmer House Lobby

Chicago’s Palmer House Lobby

Other significant buildings in the district include the Joffrey Tower, Chicago Theatre, Palmer House, and Page Brothers Building. It also hosts DePaul University‘s College of Commerce, which includes the Kellstadt Graduate School of Business and the Robert Morris College.

Chicago Loop


The Marshall Field and Company Building or Macy’s (renamed in 2006) at State Street at 11 N. State Street is a 12-story granite structure that was constructed in stages between 1891-1892 and 1907. Sections were added to the building in 1902, 1906, 1907, and 1914. It eventually engulfed an entire block. The solid stone facade has Chicago windows and an entrance framed by a pair of columns and a simple cornice at the roof line.

Marshall Field’s is the third largest store in the world. The original building and the subsequent expansion all involved Daniel Burnham, an American architect and urban designer who was the Director of Works for the World’s Columbian Exposition and wrote “The Plan of Chicago”. Burnham’s department store design became a model for stores all over the country.

Marshall Field (1834 - 16, 1906), founder of M...

Marshall Field (1834-1906), founder of Marshall Field and Company, (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Burnham’s famous quote was “Make No Little Plans”

The Corinthian columns are at the base of the five story, Beaux-Arts atrium crowned with a magnificent 6000 square foot Tiffany dome designed in 1907 with 1.6 million pieces of iridescent Favrite glass. It took 50 men two years to install it.

Marshall Field

Marshall Field Monument at the Merchandise Mart

The current building has several atria:

A Louis Comfort Tiffany, (1848-1933), mosaic vaulted ceiling dome caps a 5-story balconied atrium in the southwest corner;

the northwest section has a 13-story sky lit atrium, and a newer atrium with a fountain in the center is bridged by a double escalator

The Tiffany Mosaic Dome

The Macy’s Walnut Room Christmas Tree

There are a pair of well-known exterior street-corner clocks at State and Washington, and later at State and Randolph Streets, which serve as symbols of the store since 1897. The magnificent clocks can be found on its northwest and southwest corners along State Street at both Randolph and Washington Streets. The southwest clock at the original Washington Street intersection, known as “The Great Clock”, was installed on November 26, 1897. Marshall Field envisioned the clock as a beacon for his store which he viewed as a meeting place. The clock was installed after the southwest corner of the store had become a popular meeting place and people began leaving notes for one another on the Marshall Field’s windows. The clock was an attempt to end this practice, and encourage punctuality.



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