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Loop Tour: Sites L & M
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Site L
Proceed south to Congress Parkway. The Fine Arts Building stands at 410 S. Michigan Avenue. Original designed as a wagon showroom for the Studebaker Company by Solon S. Beman, who planned George Pullman's model city on the Southeast Side, this structure has served Chicago and the Midwest as an important cultural center since 1898. It, along with Auditorium immediately to the south, has been the home of many an aspiring artist in Chicago. The building originally housed two theaters. But these been remodeled into four, now showing art films.

At the corner of Congress and Michigan stands Adier & Sullivan's Auditorium Building (1889). Now occupied by Roosevelt University, it is one of Chicago's most famous cultural and architectural landmarks. The structure originally included a hotel and office building as well as the Auditorium Theatre, which was renowned for Sullivan's exquisite deisgn and some of the finest acoustics in the world. The original Auditorium Hotel lobby can still be appreciated as you enter the building from the Michigan Avenue side. This building provided the southern anchor for Michigan Avenue cultural district as well as for "Music Row," which was located on Wabash Avenue south of Adams Street. The photograph above shows the Auditorium Building in 1985.

Today Roosevelt University provides an important anchor for the redevelopment of the South Loop. Several institutions of higher learning have settled in the South Loop, including Roosevelt and De Paul Universities, as well as Columbia College. Together they have provided a sound institutional foundation as the Loop has gone through a transition period. Once again Michigan Avenue and Wabash Avenue are serving the city as important cultural centers, even if in a different context.

Site M
Walk west along Congress to State Street. At the northeast corner stands the former Sears Roebuck store. The father of the skyscraper, William Le Baron Jenney, designed this department store in 1891. Levi Z. Leiter, the former partner of Marshall Field, erected this building as an income property. Upon completion it was leased by the Siegel, Cooper & Co. department store. It was later occupied by a cooperative department store under the Leiter name. Sears purchased the store in the 1920s and billed it as the "Worlds Largest Store." The Sears-owned radio station received its call letters. WLS, from this sobriquet. The building is a fine example of the commercial style for which the Chicago School was famous. Sears left the Loop in 1983, and today the store is being renovated for both commercial and office space.

The former Sears store marks the southern boundary of the State Street Mall. The mall cost $17 million when it was constructed in 1978 and is said to accommodate more buses than any other thoroughfare in the nation. While originally a controversial project, the mall has come to be accepted by most Chicagoans has not, however, brought about the hoped-for revitalization of the city's old retail center. Since the mall opened, Goldblatt's, Montgomery Ward, and Sears have closed their State Street stores. South State Street is now seen as a choice area for office tower development The function of State Street seems to be changing as economy of the city has shifted over the last thirty years.

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