History in River North

806 North Michigan Avenue

Chicago Water Tower

One of the few structures to survive the Chicago Fire in 1871, the Water Tower (erected in 1866) and the Pumping Station (erected in 1869) at 806 North Michigan Avenue were designed by architect W.W. Boyington and built from yellowing Joliet limestone.  They comprise the above-ground portion of a water system designed by Ellis Chesbrough. 

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401 North Michigan Avenue

DuSable Trading Post

Catherine and Jean-Baptiste Pointe du Sable established a fur trading post at 401 North Michigan Avenue, between 1770 and 1780 and are largely considered the first settlers of Chicago.  Jean-Baptiste was reputedly biracial and of Haitian descent, and Catherine was Patawatomi.  Their post at this auspicious geographical location laid the foundation for the city that, within a century, had grown into a world leader.

Intersection of North Rush and East Illinois Streets

Jean Baptiste Pointe DuSable, Jean Lalime, and John Kinzie

Historical evidence suggests that by 1779, and perhaps earlier, Jean Baptiste Pointe DuSable had become Chicago's first permanent resident, having built a farm and trading post on the north bank of the Chicago River at its junction with Lake Michigan.  On May 7, 1800, DuSable sold the entire property to Jean Lalime, a French Canadian fur trapper from St. Joseph, who made the purchase on behalf of William Burnett, a resident of Wisconsin.  

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222 West Merchandise Mart Plaza

Merchandise Mart

From the time of its completion in 1931 until it was passed by the pentagon in 1943, the Merchandise Mart was the largest building in the world by floorspace.  The Mart was originally owned by Marshall Field & Co. and was constructed on land at 222 West Merchandise Mart Plaza, until 1911, served as Wells Street Station, a sprawling railyard. 

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Southwest Corner of Dearborn Street and Grand Avenue

Rush Medical College

Rush Medical College was chartered on March 2, 1837, two days before a charter issued to the City of Chicago.  It was founded by Dr. Daniel Brainard, who chose the name in honor of Dr. Benjamin Rush, the only physician to sign the Declaration Of Independence.  The original medical school was erected at Southwest Corner of Dearborn Street and Grand Avenue in 1844, then replaced with a bigger facility in 1867. 

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Intersection of north, south, main branch of Chicago River

Sauganash Hotel

Taverns and hotels were important meeting places for the communities of Checagou.  According to Molly W.

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435 North Michigan Avenue

Tribune Tower

In 1922, the Chicago Tribune  at 435 North Michigan Avenue held an international design competition and offered substantial cash awards to architects (and would-be architects) who wanted to try their hand at designing a new headquarters for the newspaper.  The winners were John Mead Howells and Raymond Hood, whose neo-gothic tower was selected, although some of the consolation entries presaged the modern era with minimalist designs. 

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Intersection of the north, south, and main branches of the Chicago River; southeast corner of Wacker Drive and Lake Street

Wolf Point

Wolf Point (Intersection of the north, south, and main branches of the Chicago River; southeast corner of Wacker Drive and Lake Street ) was "the center of early Chicago," wrote Donald Miller in his famous book, "City of the Century."  Miller describes Wolf Point as "the rollicking gathering place of a racially mixed settlement of Indians, half-breeds, French Canadians, and Anglo-Americans."  Three things united the diverse community of Wolf Point: "isolation from civilized society, trade in furs, and drinking and reveling at the river taverns on Wolf Point."

History in River North

661 North Clark Street

Dean O'Banion

Dean O’Banion was raised in the Kilgubbin neighborhood, which today is known as Goose Island.  Back then it was known as “Little Hell” and was populated with Irish immigrants who named the area after their hometown.

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740 North State Street

Earl "Hymie" Weiss

Earl “Hymie” Weiss (born Earl Wojciechowski in Poland) was a member of the North Side Gang, originally founded by Dean O’Banion.  During the course of his short career as a mobster, Weiss attempted to kill Johnny “The Fox” Torrio twice and Al Capone once.  He failed on all three occasions, but not for lack of effort, as his gang was adept at using Tommy guns to unload magazine after magazine of ammunition during their attacks. 

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708 North Wells Street

Sbarbaro's Funeral Parlor

Sbarbaro's Funeral Parlor, established in 1885, handled the funerals of many of Chicago's most notorious gangsters.  According to Laurence Bergreen (author of “Capone: The Man and the Era”), John A. Sbarbaro "led a curious double life.”  He ran the mortuary preferred by all the major Chicago mobsters while simultaneously serving as an Assistant State's Attorney.  

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History in River North
National Landmarks

319 west erie street

Assumption School Building

The Catholic elementary school founded by Mother Frances Xavier Cabrini served the Italian-American immigrant community from 1899 to 1945. It was designed by the architect Frederick Foltz.  Mayor Richard M. Daley said the school "stands as a fine example of a late nineteenth century urban school building, and its legacy is a testament to the work Mother Cabrini accomplished."  It was designated a landmark on July 10, 2003.

100 west chicago avenue

Bush Temple of Music

Built in 1901, this was the showroom and headquarters of the Bush and Gertz Piano Company, a leading piano company in Chicago.  It was designated a landmark on June 27, 2001. 

25 east erie street

Cable House

Cobb and frost built This Richardsonian Romanesque-style house in 1886 for Ransom R. Cable.  It was designated a landmark on October 2, 1991. 

33 west kinzie street

Chicago Varnish Company Building

Today the home of Harry Caray's restaurant, the Chicago Varnish Company Building was built in 1895 and designated as a landmark on July 25 2001.  The Henry Ives Cobb-designed building is in the minority of Chicago architecture because the style is Dutch Renaissance Revival.  Harry Caray's restaurant opened here on October 23, 1987.

801 north clark street

Cosmopolitan State Bank Building

This bank building was designated a landmark on october 8, 2008.

54 west hubbard street

Courthouse Place

Also known as the Cook County Criminal Court Building, Courthouse Place was the location for legendary trials such as the Leopold and Loeb murder case in 1924 and the 1921 Black Sox Scandal.  It was designated a Chicago landmark on June 9, 1993.  the criminal courts left the building in 1929.  the property was refurbished and dubbed courthouse palace in 1985.

660-664 north michigan avenue

Farwell Building

The city designated this 11-story building a landmark on March 10, 2004.  According to Preservation Chicago, it's one of the few remaining buildings on Michigan Avenue from the 1920's, during which time this stretch became the "Magnificent Mile."  It is one of five buildings designed by architect Philip Maher on this famous thoroughfare.

632 north dearborn street

Former Chicago Historical Society Building

Before moving to North and Clark Streets in Lincoln Park in 1931, the Chicago Historical Society set up shop here.  Designed by Henry Ives Cobb, this building features heavy, rough-cut stone walls, deeply recessed windows, round arches and squat columns.  The city designated it a landmark on February 26, 1997.  the nightclub excalibur calls the building home today.

500 north lasalle street

Lasalle Street Cable Car Powerhouse

Designated as a landmark on june 27, 2001, this building "survives from the heyday of chicago's cable car system, the largest in the united states during the late 19th century," according to the city's official landmark site.  

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