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
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.
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.