June 11, 2007

Tribune Tower

It occurred to me today that one of the things Chicago is most well-known for is its architecture. Whenever I’m downtown, it’s easy to identify the tourists. They’re usually the ones looking skyward, trying to get a good look at the skyscrapers around them. And who could blame them? Chicago has benefitted from some of history’s greatest architects, who were the primary figures in Chicago’s rebirth in the 19th century.

On October 8, 1871, a small fire started at what is now 558 W De Koven St (near Canal and Roosevelt, just off I-90/94). The traditional tale tells of a cow kicking over a lantern at the O’Leary barn, but the reporter who originally wrote the story later admitted that he made it up. There are many theories on how it started, but no matter what the origin, the Great Chicago Fire caused incredible damage to the city. After almost two days of burning, the fire destroyed more than 2,000 acres of the city, eliminated over 15,000 buildings, and left nearly a third of the city’s population homeless.

Rebuilding began immediately, and a number of buildings were re-established, looking much like the ones burnt down but with better, stronger structures, of course. However, many designers took advantage of the city’s blank slate and took architecture in a new direction. Chicago soon became the frontrunner of architectural progress on a global scale.

Many of Chicago’s buildings are amazing to observe and explore, whether they were built in response to the Great Fire or in the years following. One example is the Tribune Tower, home of the Tribune Company and the Chicago Tribune newspaper. WGN Radio (720 AM) also broadcasts from the ground level of the building.

In 1922, to celebrate its 75th anniversary, the Chicago Tribune organized an international contest for “the most beautiful and eye-catching building in the world,” offering $50,000 to the winner. Of the 250-plus entries, the winners were Raymond Hood (who would later build New York’s Rockefeller Center) and John Howell with a controversial Gothic design, inspired by the Button Tower of the cathedral at Rouen, France. Many critics argued that it went against the modern design trends of the time.

The Tribune Tower was completed in 1925, has 34 stories, and reaches a height of 462 feet (141 meters). With its decorative buttresses at the top, this structure is a remarkable sight, especially in the evening when the tower is lit.

The Tower also incorporates over 100 rocks and bricks from historically important sites directly into its exterior walls. The stones are all labeled (Taj Mahal, the Great Pyramid, Berlin Wall, World Trade Center, and many more) and visible from the street level.

Tribune TowerTribune Tower Evening
Tribune Tower ArchTribune Tower Wall

Photo credit: Wikipedia, rcktmanil (c/o Flickr)

Tribune Tower: 435 N Michigan Ave; 312-222-3994
Mon - Fri: 8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Pay lot; no parking on Michigan Ave
Public trans: Bus # 2, 3, X4, 10, 26, 143, 144, 145, 146, 147, 148, 151, 157 or Red Line train (Grand)


9 comments to Tribune Tower

  1. Weekend Festivals
    June 14th, 2007 at 3:44 pm

    [...] event in Chicago history: the first, the Fort Dearborn Massacre of 1812; the second, the Great Chicago Fire in 1871; the third, the World’s Fair in 1893; and the fourth, the Century of Progress [...]

  2. George Washington-Robert Morris-Hyam Salomon Memorial
    July 2nd, 2007 at 12:24 pm

    [...] the corner of Wabash Avenue and Wacker Drive, just a couple blocks southwest of the Tribune Tower, stands a testament to the fact that people of different backgrounds had to come together to help [...]

  3. Weekend Festivals
    July 12th, 2007 at 10:46 pm

    [...] to a $25,000 sculpture! The show goes from Friday through Sunday in the Pioneer Court next to the Tribune Tower and includes sculptures, jewelry, ceramics, paintings, and pottery from over 200 award-winning [...]

  4. Wrigley Building
    December 17th, 2007 at 10:36 pm

    [...] sadly, is not open to the public. The Wrigley Building (which now sits on the same block as the Tribune Tower) was also Chicago's very first air-conditioned office building. Finally, each of the terra cotta [...]

  5. Freedom Center
    January 7th, 2008 at 3:52 pm

    [...] readers daily and 2.7 million on Sunday. (Until 1982, the paper was printed in the east wing of the Tribune Tower.) The Chicago Tribune company, along with other media businesses it operates, reaches approximately [...]

  6. Bohemian National Cemetery
    January 13th, 2008 at 1:05 pm

    [...] Founded in 1877, the 125-acre (505857-sq-m) graveyard has more than 117,000 people buried there and was recently named a landmark. The structures within, including the entrance arch, chapel, and Columbarium, are beautiful pieces of architectural work. However, it's the funerary art that gets most of the attention here, and rightfully so. There are marble statues scattered throughout the grounds, many honoring the soldiers of World War I and the Spanish-American War. The mausoleum of former Chicago Mayor Anton Cermak (who was killed in the line of fire during an assassination attempt on President-elect Franklin D. Roosevelt) is also located here, as well as the mausoleum of the Kolar family, landlords to the infamous Mrs. O'Leary. [...]

  7. Robert Allerton Park
    July 15th, 2008 at 8:43 am

    [...] on these grounds with his lifelong 'friend,' John Gregg. Allerton had been described by the Chicago Tribune as the city's 'most eligible bachelor,' and he never married. The two men left Chicago in the [...]

  8. Visit Springer, Wilkos, and Mathis at NBC Tower
    August 18th, 2008 at 6:03 am

    [...] along with limestone piers, recessed tinted glass, and flying buttresses (much like the nearby Tribune Tower). The skyscraper is finished off with a 130-foot (40 m) [...]

  9. WGN-TV Is Chicago’s Very Own
    October 6th, 2008 at 8:31 pm

    [...] is home to WGN Television and WGN America, and housed WGN Radio (720 AM) before it moved to the Tribune Tower. While best known for its coverage of the Chicago Cubs, WGN-TV has televised games from almost all [...]

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