History in the Chicago Loop

441 South Clark Street

Carrie Watson's Brothel

Carrie Watson started working at Madame Lou Harper's brothel at 18 years old.  She amassed her own fortune, however, when she opened her own brothel at 441 South Clark Street, employing more than 60 women.  "Carrie Watson was said to have the most extravagant brothel west of the Alleghenies," according to the Encyclopedia of Prostitution and Sex Work, Vol. 1.

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135 South LaSalle Street

First Skyscraper Ever Built - Home Insurance Building

The Home Insurance Building at 135 S. LaSalle St in the Chicago Loop, erected in 1885, was the first skyscraper ever built (not just in Chicago, but in the entire world).  Designed by famed architect and engineer William Le Baron Jenney, the building was the first to use structural steel as a means of supporting its interior and exterior loads.  It originally contained ten floors (rising to 138 feet), but two more stories were added in 1890.  

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311 South Clark Street

First Ward Headquarters

A non-descript cigar store at 311 South Clark Street (long since demolished) served as the headquarters of the legendary and famously corrupt Chicago politicians who controlled the First Ward, including Michael “Hinky Dink” Kenna and "Bathhouse" John Coughlin.

"Hinky Dink" and "Bathhouse" held their famous First Ward Ball at the Chicago Coliseum.

219 South Monroe

Madam Lou Harper's Brothel

Established during the Civil War, Madame Harper's luxury brothel was "Chicago's grandest whorehouse" when it was opened at 219 South Monroe, according to The Wicked City: Chicago from Kenna to Capone.  That is, until the Everleigh Club opened in 1901.  Harper elicited the help of Carrie Watson as an apprentice to spur the brothel's business.  

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Northeast corner of State and Randolph Streets

Masonic Temple

Built in 1892, the Masonic Temple at Northeast corner of State and Randolph Streets was the tallest skyscraper in the world for two years until the Manhattan Life building in New York City ended its brief reign.  Situated across from Marshall Field’s department store, the Masonic Temple had 22 stories, the first nine of which were devoted to retail and the highest of which was reserved for meetings of the Freemasons. 

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History in the Chicago Loop
Clubs and theaters

522 South State Street

American Theater

The American Theater, formerly located at 522 South State Street in the Loop neighborhood of Chicago, was a rarity among clubs and theaters in early 20th century Chicago because it was owned by a woman, Maud H. Frazier.  While her husband, Floyd Frazier, was in charge of the theater's day-to-day operations, Maud was the official owner.  The theater featured burlesque dancers, angering the Chicago Women's Church Federation.  

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673 West Madison Street

Empire Theater

The Empire Theater had a seating capacity of 1,450 and was one Chicago's largest theaters when it opened on May 5, 1907, at 673 West Madison Street.  It was primarily a burlesque theater and featured its own "Empire Burlesquers."   On opening night, patrons paid 15 to 50 cents ($3.53-$11.80 today) for admission.  It was ultimately demolished to make room for the Kennedy Expressway.

531 South State Street

Folly Theater Burlesque - State Congress Theater

The Folly Theater was open from 1904 to 1933 at 531 S. State St in the Chicago Loop and exhibited both burlesque shows and motion pictures.  It was later known as the State-Congress Theater.

20 East 22nd Street

Freiberg's Dance Hall

Locals came to Freiberg's Dance Hall, which was located at 20 East 22nd Street, for three things: dancing, booze, and sex.  After the club provided entertainment for patrons for 19 years, officials shut it down in 1914.  No trace of it remains.

450 South State Street

Gem Theater

The Gem Theater opened in 1908 at the northwest corner of State and Congress, 450 South State Street. It was formerly the London Dime Museum, which dated to the early 1890's and offered Vaudeville entertainment on the first floor and an oddities museum upstairs. About the time of the Great Depression, the Gem began featuring burlesque shows in addition to movies.

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336 South State Street

Rialto Theater

The Rialto Theater opened in 1917 at 336 South State Street and, like many other theaters in early 20th century Chicago, experimented with vaudeville shows, motion pictures, and burlesque.  Burlesque won out. "By 1927...burlesque had emerged as the main attraction at the rialto, with performances by groups such as "The Heartbreakers," "The Joy Riders," and "Babes in Toyland," according to Jazz Age Chicago.  

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139 North Wabash Avenue

The Blackhawk Restaurant

The Blackhawk opened its doors at 139 North Wabash Avenue on December 27, 1920, and featured an in-house dance orchestra, Carlton Coon-Joe Sanders and their Kansas City Nighthawks.  The music was broadcast over WGN radio as "Live! From the Blackhawk."  A four-year-old Mel Torme first performed at the Blackhawk in 1929 and soon became a weekly sensation.  

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414 South State Street

Trocadero Theater

The Trocadero Theater was one of many burlesque theaters in Chicago in the early 20th century.  Patrons were treated to a new burlesque performing troupe every week, including the "The Fifth Avenue Belles," "The Vassar Girls," "The Gay Girls of Gotham," and "The Casino Girls," according to Jazz Age Chicago.  

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History in the Chicago Loop
National Landmarks

330 north wabash avenue

330 North Wabash

Designed by Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe, this 52-story building was built in 1973.  at 695 feet, it is the second-tallest, largest, and last american building designed by mies van der rohe (the tallest being the Toronto-Dominion Bank Tower in toronto).  a bust of him designed by sculptor mario marini is located inside the lobby.  the skyscraper was known as the ibm building until 1996, when ibm sold imb plaza to the blackstone group in 1996.  

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333 north michigan avenue

333 North Michigan Avenue Building

Built in 1928, this Art Deco-style building is one of four that surrounds the Michigan Avenue Bridge.  It was designed by Holabird & Roche.  The city designated it as a landmark on February 7, 1997.

35 east wacker drive

35 East Wacker Drive Building

During the first 14 years after this building's completion, it housed a 22-story car lift that allowed jewelry merchants to safely transfer their goods.  Former names of the 523-foot structure include the Jewelers Building, Pure Oil Building and North American Life Building. It was designated as a landmark on February 9, 1994.

430 South Michigan Avenue

Auditorium Building

Designed by Dankmar Adler and Louis Sullivan, the Auditorium Building at 430 South Michigan Avenue was first home to the Chicago Civic Opera and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and is now home to Roosevelt University and its Auditorium Theater.  It was designated a Chicago landmark on September 15, 1976, and a National Historic Landmark on May 15, 1975.

223 west jackson boulevard

Brooks Building

The brooks building was Designated a landmark on January 14, 1997.  it is a prime example of the chicago school of architecture.  the building was designed by holabird and roche.

230 north michigan avenue

Carbide and Carbon Building

Designated a landmark on May 9, 1996, the 37-story Carbide and Carbon Building was built in 1929.  Since November 16, 2007, the gold-leaf tower has been permanently illuminated at night atop the 503-foot structure.  in 2004, the building was converted to the hard rock hotel chicago.

1 South State Street

Carson, Pirie, Scott and Company Building

A part of the Loop Retail Historic District, this building at 1 South State Street was designed by Louis Sullivan and used for retail purposes from 1899 to 2007.  It was designated a Chicago landmark on November 5, 1970, and a national landmark on May 15, 1975. 

63 east adams street

Chapin and Gore Building

This building was designated a landmark on January 21, 1982, and houses the Chicago Symphony Orchestra administration.  It was built in 1904.

141 West Jackson Boulevard

Chicago Board of Trade Building

The Chicago Board of Trade at 141 West Jackson Boulevard building was the tallest building in the city for a 25-year span (1930 to 1965), but its iconic status among Chicago skyscrapers continues today.  It was the city's first commercial building to have electrical lighting, and it was the first to exceed 600 feet.  It's been featured in several movies.

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7 west madison street

Chicago Building

The Chicago Building was designated as a Chicago landmark on March 26, 1996.  It was designed by Holabird & Roche and is an example of the Chicago School architectural style.

121 north lasalle boulevard

Chicago City Hall

This 11-story building is the official center of government for both chicago and cook county and was dedicated as a landmark on February 27, 1911.  The West side of the building houses the offices of the mayor, the city treasurer and the city clerk.  Roof gardens designed by William McDonough were installed in 2001.

118 north clark street

Chicago County Building

This 11-story building is the official center of government for the both chicago and cook county.  it was designated as a landmark on February 27, 1911.   The East side of the building houses the offices of the Cook County government.

78 east washington street

Chicago Cultural Center

The Chicago Cultural Center was built in 1893 and was the first free municipal cultural center in the United States.  It was designated a landmark on November 15, 1976.

175 north state street

Chicago Theater

The marquee outside the Chicago Theatre is one of the most recognizable images of downtown.  The theater was built in 1921, and the city designated it a landmark on January 28, 1983.  It was part of the Balaban and Katz group of theaters, and today it serves as a venue for plays, concerts, comedy shows, and speeches, among other performance art events.  The theatre is currently the city's oldest surviving example of Rapp and Rapp's Neo-Baroque French-revival style.

20 north wacker drive

Civic Opera Building

With a seating capacity of more than 3,500, the Civic Opera House is the second-largest opera auditorium in North America.  It opened on November 4, 1929, and was designated a landmark on February 5, 1998.  The limestone building has a 45-foot office tower along with two 22-story wings.  It looks very much like an enormous throne and was completed after 22 months of planning and construction.

500 south lake shore drive

Clarence Buckingham Fountain and Garden

One of the most recognizable destinations in the city, The Buckingham Fountain was designated as a landmark on August 30, 2000.  The fountain represents Lake Michigan, and the surrounding horses represent each state that borders the lake.  the fountain operates from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. every day from mid-April to mid-October.  

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208 south lasalle street

Continental and Commercial Bank Building

This building was designated a landmark on December 12, 2007.

36 west randolph street

Delaware Building

The Delaware Building was designated a landmark on november 23, 1983.  it's notable for maintaining its 1870s character, as it was part of the rebuilding process after the chicago fire.

135 south lasalle street

Field Building

The 45-story LaSalle National Bank building, also known as the Field Building, was designated a landmark on February 9, 1994.  It was built in the 1930's (completed in 1934), and, per the custom of the era, the building does not have a 13th floor.

410 south michigan avenue

Fine Arts Building

The Fine Arts Building was erected for the Studebaker company in 1884 and 1885.  Offices inside the building include the Jazz Institute of Chicago, the Grant Park Conservatory, and the Chicago Youth Symphony.  It was designated a landmark on June 7, 1978. 

343 south dearborn street

Fischer Building

D.H. Burnham & Company designed and completed the Fischer Building in 1896.  Commercial stores are on the first and second floors, and floors 3-20 contain apartments.  Originally the building was 18 stories tall, but a two-floor addition was completed in 1908.

24 south michigan avenue

Gage Group Buildings

Holabird & Roche designed these three buildings between 1890 and 1899 for three millinery firms: Gage, Keith, and Ascher.  Louis Sullivan designed the façade on 18 South Michigan.  The city designated this group of buildings a landmark on September 11, 1996. 

180-190 north dearborn street

Harris and Selwyn Theaters

Originally operated as live playhouses, the Harris and Selwyn theaters were gutted and rebuilt in 2000 as part of the Goodman Theatre.  Producer Michael Todd bought the buildings in the 1950s and converted them into movie theaters.  The theaters were designated as landmarks on March 31, 1983.

18, 22, and 28 south wabash avenue

Haskell-Barker-Atwater Buildings

These buildings were designated landmarks on november 13, 1996.  according to the city of chicago, "[they] provide the best remaining example of what the east side of the Loop looked like prior to the skyscraper boom of the 1890s."

east wacker drive and north wabash avenue

Heald Square Monument

Named for Fort Dearborn Commander Nathan Heald, the Heald Square Monument was designated a landmark on September 15, 1971.  The sculpture depicts Robert Morris, Hyam Solomon, and George Washington.  Morris and Solomon were financiers of the American Revolution.

29 east madison street

Heyworth Building

The 19-story heyworth building was built by d.h. burnham & company in 1904.  back in the day, it was home to jewelers, watchmakers and other businesses.  today it's the home of Maccormac college as well as the center for economic progress.

30 west monroe street

Inland Steel Building

This building was the first skyscraper to be built in the loop following the great depression.  it was completed in 1957, and its chief designers were bruce graham and walter netsch of skidmore, owings & merrill.  it stands 332 feet tall and was designated as a landmark on october 7, 1998.  as part of its unique design, the structural columns on the building's perimeter allow for a flexible interior floor layout.  

19 south wabash avenue

Jewelers' Building

Built in 1881, the jewelers' building was designed by louis sullivan and dankmar adler.  its original title and project name was the s.a. maxwell and company store.  this building was designated as a landmark on december 18, 1981.

north and south wabash avenue, predominantly between east washington and east monroe streets

Jewlers' Row District

This historic district in the loop contains buildings that were built between 1872 and 1941.  designers of the buildings include probst & white, john mills van osdel, adler & sullivan, d.h. burnham & co., and holabird & roche.  

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403 south state street

:eiter II Building

Designed by william le baron jenney, this building is also known as the second leiter building and the sears building.  it gained fame because it was one of the first commercial buildings in the united states to have a metal skeleton frame.  today it is home to robert morris university.  

360 north michigan avenue

London Guarantee Building

This building stands on part of the former site of fort dearborn and was formerly known as the stone container building.  crain communications inc. acquired the building in 2001, so it is now referred to as the crain communications building.  wls-am studios were located on the 5th floor of this building.  the buildings entrance contains a commemorative plaque for fort dearborn.  the building was designated as a landmark on april 16, 1996.

north michigan avenue and east wacker drive

Site of Fort Dearborn

Fort Dearborn was founded in 1803 under the leadership of Captain John Whistler.  The first child of European ancestry born in Chicago, Alexander Beaubien, was born here on january 28, 1822.  The city designated the site a landmark on September 15, 1971. 

151-199 north des plaines street

Site of the Haymarket Tragedy

The 1880s marked a time of great labor unrest in the United States. Workers held generally peaceful rallies in support of the eight-hour workday all across the country.  on the evening of May 4, 1886, however, at a rally attended by Mayor Carter Harrison, someone hurled a bomb at police, killing officer Mathias J. Degan instantly.  in the ensuing mayhem, Eight officers were killed by mostly friendly fire, and at least four workers were also killed.  

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50 west washington street

The Richard J. Daley Center

You know that Picasso downtown?  The Daley Center is the 30-story, 648-foot tall building right behind it.  The building was originally called the Chicago Civic Center, but was renamed for Mayor Richard J. Daley on December 27, 1976.  The Daley Center has more than 120 court and hearing rooms, as well as a law library and the offices of the Clerk of the Circuit Court.  

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