Thursday, September 17, 2020

September 17, 1974 -- Mercantile Exchange Approves Plans for New Headquarters

September 17, 1974 –
The Chicago Tribune reports that members of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange have approved plans for a twin-towered office building that the exchange will occupy at Wacker Drive and Madison Street.  The vote is overwhelmingly positive, with 2,478 in favor of the plan and 567 standing in opposition.  It is expected that construction will begin in spring of 1975 on a site where a city parking garage is located.  The Chicago Mercantile Exchange will own the 40,000-square-foot trading floor that will be located at the base of the structure, joining the two towers together, along with ten percent of the first tower.  Metropolitan Structures, Inc. and JMB Realty Corporation will own the rest of the space in the buildings.  The new trading floor and office space will replace the exchange’s location at 444 West Jackson Boulevard, where a 25,000-square-foot trading floor is located along with adjacent office space.  The twin-towered project would be finished in 1981 according to plans drawn by architect Joseph Fujikawa.  For more on the architect you can turn to this entry in Connecting the Windy City.  When it opened what is today CME Center was the city’s first all-concrete skyscraper.  At the time it was the home of the largest open outcry futures exchange in the country.  With floor plates of 29,000 feet the LEED Gold® building encloses 2.3 million square feet of space overlooking the Chicago River.

September 17, 1969 – The City Council, by a vote of 30 to 6, approves two ordinances that clear the way for the office and residential development that Chicago now calls Illinois Center.  One ordinance establishes guidelines for the development of the area, and the other codifies the relationship between the city, the owner of the property, Illinois Central Industries, and three developers.  The plan calls for buildings of up to 90 stories with 45,000 workers, and 17,500 apartments with 35,000 residents.   In an editorial the Chicago Tribune writes glowingly about the project, asserting, “Chicagoans must feel some exhilaration to see, at long last, this strategic area built on in a manner suitable to its location in the center of the city.  And Chicagoans should take an eager, continuing, and responsible interest as Illinois Center plaza gradually develops . . . A brilliantly successful development here will be a civic asset the importance of which it would be almost impossible to exaggerate.” [Chicago Tribune, September 19, 1969]  The photo at the left shows the approximate area where the Hyatt Regency Hotel stands today.
September 17, 1962 – The $2.75 million Loyola University Center at the southwest corner of Rush and Pearson Streets opens to students.  Loyola’s president, the Very Reverend James F. Maquire, says, “The center enables the university to accommodate meetings and gatherings of alumni and friends, to provide facilities for public lectures, luncheons, and conferences, and to serve other functions and activities for business and community groups.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, September 16, 1962]  The new building will include two cafeterias, 18 classrooms, a bookstore, conference rooms, student lounges, and a formal meeting room for administrative meetings.  A two-story enclosed walkway will connect the University Center to Lewis Towers, the main classroom building, which sits to the east just off Michigan Avenue.  As part of the dedication ceremony, at which His Eminence the Archbishop of Chicago Albert Cardinal Meyer officiates, a mural by Park Ridge artist Melville Steinfels is dedicated.  It depicts 400 years of Jesuit education.  The student center is the next step in a move downtown that began in 1946 with a gift of Mr. and Mrs. Frank J. Lewis – an 18-story skyscraper located at 820 North Michigan Avenue, located just to the west of the city’s historic Water Tower. The site is considerably different today as Loyola’s eight-story School of Communication wraps around the north and west sides of The Clare, a senior independent living high-rise, at 55 East Pearson.  A new student center is located just to the west on the northwest corner of Pearson and Wabash Streets.  The photo shows Lewis Center as it appeared in the 1950's, shortly after its purchase.
The second photo shows the area as it appears today.

September 17, 1954 – The first new office building to be constructed in the Loop since 1933, the ten-story Sinclair Oil Corporation’s office building on the northeast corner of Wacker Drive and Randolph Street, is officially opened as more than 200 business leaders and officials from the state and city attend the ceremonies.  The new building contains 225,000 square feet of office space and 14,000 square feet of basement parking space.  The structure will consolidate various divisions of the corporation that were previously scattered in four separate locations.  The building is gone today, replaced by the Goettsch Partners tower, finished in 2010, at 155 North Wacker Drive.  The Sinclair building is outlined in the older photograph.  The award-winning Goettsch replacement is shown to the left.

September 17, 1922 –The new $1,600,000 Madison Street bridge is lowered into position for the first time at 2:00 p.m., leaving the Clark Street bridge as the only center-pier bridge left in the central area of the city.  It will be three weeks before pedestrians will be allowed across the new bridge, and it will be at least six weeks before traffic crosses the new span.  The bridge’s sidewalks will be 13.5 feet, eight feet wider than the sidewalks on the old center pier bridge that is being replaced.  Work on the new bridge began on December 1, 1919, but there is a long delay in the fabrication of the steel for the span.  It isn’t until late September of 1921 before work resumes.  In March of 1922 the bridge’s bond issue expires, and work is once again ordered to a halt.  In June Chicago voters approve a new bond issue, and work resumes on August 1.  According to “This bridge stands out among the bridges of Chicago as one of the most historically and technologically significant since it is the first example of a design that Chicago would use in construction on many bridges during a period of over 40 years.  It also retains ornate sidewalk railings that greatly contribute to the visual beauty of the bridge.” The above photo shows the bridge under construction in 1922.  In the right foreground is the swing bridge which it will replace.

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