Board of Trade
Life Span: 1882-1929
Location: Jackson and LaSalle Streets
Architect: William W. Boyington
Chicago Tribune, December 13, 1882
Program of Today’s Exercises
Today will mark an important epoch for the Chicago Board of Trade, it being the date fixed for the laying of the new corner-stone of the new building. The arrangements are all perfected, and the weather will be the only doubtful factor. The exercises themselves will be brief and simple, as the time of year forbids any elaborate display. The building itself is now well advanced, and but a few turns of the wheels the derrick will be required to swing the stone into place. The board will be adjourned at noon in the Chamber of Commerce, and a procession formed under charge of Gen. Joseph Stockton as Marshal, with I. P. Rumsey, P. P. Oldershaw, and J. W. Rumsey as assistants. The line will be headed by the band of the First Regiment and Company K of the same command, which is composed exclusively of employees of members of the Board of Trade. Some other militia companies are expected to take part. Then will come the Presidents and ex-Presidents of the organization, city and county officials, members of the board, and also members of the Produce and Stock Exchange. The route will be from the Chamber of Commerce east to Dearborn street, thence south to Jackson street, and west to the foot of LaSalle street. The exercises at building will be opened by prayer by Bishop Cheney, followed by music. President Dunham will then deliver an address, followed by an oration by Secretary Randolph. The stone will then be lowered into place after the usual box has been placed therein. The people are to unite in singing “America,” and the exercises will close with the “Doxology.” Owing to the short distance to be traveled it has been decided not to use any carriages in the procession, and the exercises will be made as simple and impressive as possible. It was originally decided to postpone the exercises from day to day should the weather prove unpropitious, but the arrangements are so far advanced now that the stone will undoubtedly be laid today in spite of the elements.
Description of the New Building.
The building whose corner-stone is to be laid today, is, as already stated, located on the block bounded by Pacific Avenue, Jackson, Van Buren, and Sherman streets. It is to be a happy combination of utility and elaborate ornamentation, and standing as it does at the foot of La Salle street, will be one of the most notable sights in the city. The site is one of the most commanding in the city, fronting as it does Jackson street, directly at the head of La Salle street. The style of architecture is what is popularly known as modern Gothic, liberally treated to meet the grand proportions such a building requires. The design in the main is not an exceedingly ornate building, yet from its magnitude and the necessary multitude of details there will be prominent, bold-relief figures and features which, when executed of granite and dispersed in the various parts of the building, will form one grand whole of harmonious, plain, and ornamental surfaces, combined to produce the boldest, picturesque building in this country, and so entirely unlike the ordinary style of such puclic buildings that the city will be proud of its having been built.
Chicago Board of Trade
Grand Opening Announcement
The Main Building.
The design is for a building quite out of the beaten track in its general appearance. The main facade is on Jackson street, fronting La Salle, and is crowned by a centre tower thirty-two feet front, projecting four feet from the main front wall of the building, and rising to a height of 240 feet. This tower is relieved in its various sections by offsets, belts, corbels, cornices, etc., and is topped out with singular lines to a lookout balcony 200 feet above the sidewalk, tapering into a prominent pinnacle forty feet high, which supports a flagstaff thirty-five feet in height. The altitude from the street level to the top of the pole is 300 feet.
The height from the sidewalk to the top of the cornice is 108 feet. At the top of the tower is poised a statue of Mercury. The tower projects from the main building about six feet, and the main entrance at its base somewhat further. The entrance or portico, is thirty-two feet wide and forty-six feet high supported by great granite columns on each side. The corner pavilions, flanking the tower, are carried up some distance, and project about four feet from the main structure.
The two front cornices of the main or La Salle front of the structure are finished with pavilions twenty-two feet square, terminating in high roofs considerably above the main building. The two sides of the structure are more plainly treated, but are very bold in their general subdivisions and various details.
One of the most imposing features on the exterior will be deeply cut panel balustrades, surmounting the sides over the centre of the main hall portion of the building, which will be fifty-six feet long and twenty-nine feet high, braced on each side with huge carved brackets resting against two large Griffin figures. In the centre of this tablet there will be a group of nine mammoth statue figures, in different attitudes, representing trade and commerce, with the various implements of art and agriculture, all cut in bold relief from solid granite. These will adorn both the Pacific avenue and Sherman street fronts. There will be several other prominent statue figures cut in granite in different parts of the building.
Trading Floor in Session
Chicago Board of Trade, 1900
George R. Lawrence, Photographer
The main or Board of Trade part proper will occupy the whole width of the lot, 173 feet nine inches in width by 160 feet deep, leaving ground 173 feet nine inches by sixty-five feet for the adjoining office building. The floor surface of the great trading hall is 23,000 feet. The ground floor will be only one step above the sidewalk. The grand entrance will be in front of La Salle street, through the centre tower. A large hallway and commodious vestibule are first passed through, from which there are to be two imposing granite stairways leading to the main hall floor. On each side street and from the court there will be similar but less pretentious entrances, together with two commodious flights of iron stairs, and four large elevators leading to the top of the building. The office portion is to be nine stories high, or 150 feet above the sidewalk. The main hall portion of the building will range somewhat less in height on the sides, but the front will be aboit the same height.
The ground floor is to be used for banks and offices with fire-proof vaults to each. The second floor will contain
The Main Exchange.
and Call Board rooms, and official, committee, and lavatory rooms. The main hall will occupy 171 feet ab 155 feet, with galleries at each end. The Call Board will be 70 by 80 feet, with galleries, and will occupy the height of two stories, or thirty-five on the east and south side of the building. The President-Secretary, clerks, and committees will occupy the west and south portions of the two stories opposite the Call Board. Above this there will be six stories of offices in the south end or office portion of the building. The main hall will be 80 feet high, with a glass ceiling of 70 by 80 feet. The walls of this portion of the building will be alternately adorned with large windows and massive marble columns, upon which there will be ponderous capitals, cornices, and brackets richly treated, and interspersed with appropriate frescoes. The building is to be practically fire-proof, as all the modern appliances of fire-proofing are to be used in its construction.
The office building in the rear and adjoining the Board of Trade quarters is in the same style externally as the main portion. Excepting space in two stories for a Call-Boars room on one side and Board of Trade official rooms on the other, this part will be divided into offices. It will be run up nine stories, with a large interior skylight in addition to the numerous windows on the outside.
The ground floor under the main hall will be devoted to offices and banking rooms and to a large hall for the delivery and settlement clerks. All the private offices on this (the first) floor and those in the office portion of the building on every story are equipped with fire-proof vaults.
Chicago Board of Trade, 1887
The Board of Trade hall is to be very elaborate in style. The walls between the windows will be relieved by large granite columns with a rich arch-covered cornice above, reaching to the ceiling, which is seventy feet from the hall floor. This will be crowned by the ceiling light, eighty by eighty-eight feet, which is stained glass, and will be set up in a clove-story rising eighty-fice feet above the floor level. The building will be fire-proof in all its essential parts. The doors and casings are to be hardwood—mahogany, walnut, maple, and oak—and the walls and ceilings frescoed in oil in entirely new and artistic designs.
The hall, additionally lighted by very high windows (30 x 16 feet)has a colonnade running completely around it on three of the sides, the beautifully molded pillars (iron and marble castings) standing well out., and the north, where the rostrum is, being set in the wall.
The larger and more important of these supports, as well as ornaments, are fully eighty feet high and three feet and a half in diameter, the richly foliated and capped shafts not remotely suggesting rows of forest kings of the palm order. The columns rise in marble bases, corresponding in fineness and durability with the high marble wainscoting. The mural allegorical paintings and other decorations—some details of which have yet to be determined—will be as appropriate and artistic as the talent of connoisseurs can make them.
Chicago Board of Trade, 1887
The ceiling will be in huge, broad panels, with an arched skylight in the centre portion, filled with ornamental stained glass. The skylight will have another light of equal size above it on the roof. Through these two lights will be the natural means for ventilation. The important windows are to be of plate glass, manufactured expressly for this use, and the transoms, as also the main tower window, are to be of cathedral stained glass, rich in conventional or specially significant devices. The rich effect of the noble hall is heightened yet more by the mosaic suggestion of the floor, which, like that of the offices throughout, will be of white maple, this hardest of woods, being finished with various other hard woods of enlivening color—ash, butternut, cherry—while the floors of all passageways and corridors on the first two floors will be laid in tiles of marble. At each corner of the great hall will be s room for private consultation, and near these will be telegraph counters to additionally accommodate those sending messages from the hall.
The hall is to be reached by a double stairway nine feet in width, and four elevators. There are
Two galleries in the room, The one at the north end extends entirely across the hall, about twenty feet from the floor, the rostrum leading from the middle being sixteen feet above. Opposite, or at the south movement was set on foot which resulted in the organization of the Chicago Board of Trade. A meeting was held March 13 of that year at the office W. L. Whiting, the call for which was signed by Wentworth, Byer & Chapin, George Steele, L. H. Magle & Co., Beef & Church, John H Kinzie, Norton, Walter & Co., DeWolfe & Co., Charles Walker, Thomas Richmund, Thomas Hale, and Raymond Gibbs & Co.
From Chicago’s First Half Century, 1833-1883
The corner-stone of the new Chamber of Commerce was laid with appropriate ceremonies Dec. 13. 1882, and since then the walls of the magnificent building have gone up with marvelous rapidity, but this new temple of trade is on such a grand scale that it will be another year before\ it is brought to completion and ready for the machinery of commerce.
The new building, of which a cut is here given, fronts on Jackson street and extends back to Van Buren, occupying the full width of the block between Sherman street and Pacific avenue. It will have a frontage of 175 feet and 225 feet in depth. It is in the modern Gothic style, built of Fox Island granite. The grand tower is 32 feet front, and is to be 300 feet high, the masonry extending 225 feet and toe remaining 75 feet of iron. At the height of 225 feet there will be a clock dial on each of the four sides of the
tower, twelve feet in diameter.
Board of Trade I
A MAGNIFICENT TEMPLE.
All the external entrances to the building will have large prominent doors, finished with polished red granite square columns. The external ornamentation is to be on a scale never before equaled in the city, and this will be one of the finest buildings used for commercial purposes in the world, costing $1,500. 000.
One of the brightest pages in the history of the Board of Trade was the unwavering support it gave the country in the hour of its greatest need. The echo of the first gun awoke the loyal sons of the Board of Trade, and they rallied for the defense. Grain and pork and beef and stocks were forgotten for the flag, and the “boys on ‘Change” showed that they could fight with the same enthusiasm and with the same recklessness that they could buy on the market.
Three regiments of infantry and a battery of artillery were organized and equipped by the Board of Trade, who kept watch over them during their service of three years. They were allowed to want for nothing that money could buy. The board also raised $150,000 to help on the cause of the Union. Secretary Randolph, in speaking of the board, with which he has been connected in an official capacity for so many years, says:
That the men composing this body are, in general, possessed of unusual business ability, are remarkable for their quick perception of business possibilities, and are of untiring devotion to business affairs, will perhaps be freely conceded by all acquainted with tfteir habits and modes of conducting those affairs ; the best indications of their true manhood, however, are to be found in their generous treatment of the unfortunate, whether of their own numbers or of distressed humanity throughout the world.
Chicago Board of Trade
Transactions in the Millions.
As an estimate of the business done on the Board of Trade, it may be noted tnat the clearings alone amount to more than $2,000.000 a week. As this is but a small percent of the transactions, the actual business of the board amounts to millions of dollars every day.
Last year there was shipped from Chicago $90,388,000 worth of flour and grain, $100,939,000 worth of live stock, $117,592,000 worth of meats, lard, tallow, and dressed hogs.$l 1. 1 14,000 worth of butter and cheese, $24,778,000 worth of wool and hides, $9,358,000 worth of seeds and broom corn, $2,451,000 worth of distilled spirits, not including the tax, and $9,924,000 worth of miscellaneous products, making1 a grand total of $372,544,000 worth of products from this market, and all passed through the hands of these merchants and commission men on the Board of Trade.
But this does not begin to give an estimate of the business transactions which take place there. The wheat, corn, and other products are often sold and resold a dozen times in one day, and not only is business done by the 2,000 men on the floor, but many of them are acting as agents for men throughout the whole country. There is no place in the world where so much of this kind of business is done, and Chicago by right is called the trade center.
April 29, 1885 Opening Ceremonies
Call to Order—President E. Nelson Blake
Prayer—The Rev. Clinton Locke, D. D.
National Anthem—Keller By Orchestra
John R. Bensley, Chairman of the Real Estate Commission, will turn over the keys of the new building to President E. Nelson Blake, who will respond on the behalf of the Board of Trade.
Introduction—Third Act of Lohengrin—Wagner By Orchestra
Oration—Emery A. Storrs
Serenade—Sibl By Orchestra
Speeches—Delegates from Abroad
America (My Country, ‘Tis of Thee)—Hauser By Orchestra
Chicago Tribune, January 21, 1894
For half an hour yesterday afternoon 1,000 people stood in front of the Board of Trade tower and apparently expected that lofty structure to shortly take a tumble to the earth. The spectators looked at the big cracks which the sinking tower has caused on the north side of the building. Meanwhile they stretched their arms skyward, poked up their umbrellas excitedly, and explained the whole matter to eager listeners who approached the scene. It was only after a severe gust of rain that the throng dispersed.
The excitement was caused by the falling of a piece of granite from the coping. It weighed no more than one pound, but was taken as evidence of the unsafe condition of the tower. The announcement made in The Tribune a few days ago of the decision of the Board of Directors to pull down the tower emphasized the importance of the falling stone. The cracks in the walls show that the tower is sinking, and experts have been at work to estimate the degree to which it renders the building unsafe. Opinions differed yesterday as to the significance of the falling of the piece of granite. It might mean that it was due to the disturbed condition of the building or that the piece had merely become detached by the ordinary causes of frost.
E. W. Kohlsaat saw the piece of stone fall. Mr. Kohlsaat was just across the street talking to a friend abut the probability of a 325-foot high granite tower taking a tumble. While he was speaking he noticed the piece of stone strike the pavement. The coincidence was such that he took the trouble the piece of granite to Secretary George Stone and told him that the building had begun to tumble down. The attention of President Raymond was called to the matter, and W. W. Boyington, the architect of the building, shortly after called at President Raymond’s office to learn the extent of the damage.
“I do not attach any importance to the matter,” said President Raymone. “There are other parts of the building from which pieces of stone have dropped, and there is no reason to believe that this is anything more than the ordinary scaling which happens to stone. Pieces have dropped from my own residence, and this occurrence seems to me to be no wise different. No,” he added, “we shall take no steps for additional inspection, as I do not think it necessary.
Architect Boyington said:
There is no danger of this tower falling. It leans now about nine inches to the north. It has leaned over four and one-haslf inches at the time it was constructed. It can’t fall until the center of gravity is displaced, and that would mean a settling and leaning oif ten feet.
There are a great many brokers in the Board of Trade Building who cannot be induced to feet that the tower is as safe as the architect avers it to be, and for that reason they intend to have it taken down. The crowd that stood out in the rain yesterday to look at the big cracks had no technical knowledge of the building, but every spectator was certain the thing could not stand much longer. In corroborating this view amusing testimony was furnished. On the east side of the tower there is a lightning rod running from the ground to the apex. Half a block away this rod cannot be distinguished from a crack in the wall, and there were those looking on who declared that the lightning rod “crack” furnished indisputable evidence of the sagging of the tower.
Chicago Tribune, February 25, 1894
The work of taking down the Board of Trade tower will begin tomorrow morning. The officials hope to have the changes completed by May 1, but it is said if the last scaffolding is removed by June 1 the board will be fortunate. C. H. Rutan, the architect who planned the changes, returned to Boston last night. The first thing to be done will be the erection of a big protection over the skylight above the main floor of the board, and a protection will also be built over the sidewalk. In addition to this there will be a large platform fifteen feet wide constructed entirely around the tower. This is to guard against the possibility of any of the material getting away from the workmen and crashing down through the skylight. The most danger is from the slate on the roof of the tower. As soon as the top one is taken off the rest become loosened, and a slight gust of wind night send a shower of slate down in the traders. The gilded schooner at the top of the flagstaff on the tower will come down first. R. P. Lamont of the contracting firm of Shailer & Schnigiay, which will do the work, said yesterday that the removal of the ship was the most difficult feat of all. The schooner is of iron and is eleven feet long, being at the top of a hollow iron flagstaff six inches in diameter and fifty feet high. He had spent much time in studying how it was to come down. He has decided to begin in the tower about ten feet below the apex and remove the roof and frame work. Upon this space a derrick will be erected, one arm of which will reach to the ship and flagstaff. No attempts will be made to loosen the ship from its flagstaff, but they will be lowered in one piece. After it is down the schooner will be newly glided and be placed in the exchange room as a souvenir of the lost tower. The heavy bell which has been striking out the hours these many years will be lowered from its place in the tower to the seventh story. The next thing to come down will be the clock, which will be placed about the level of the present roof. The diameter of the present dial is twelve feet. It is all right where it is, but when it gets 100 feet nearer the sidewalk it will look like a small farm, and a dial of about half the diameter must be used. Practically no new material will be required in the changes. Everything will be cleaned off down to line some thirty feet below the present dial. Then the old material which formed the construction of the tower above the roof will be replaced at the roof level. The Board of Trade appropriated $30,000 for the change, and this is about the amount of the contract. “From rough estimates I have made,” Mr. Lamont said, “I should say that the weight of the tower will be reduced between 6,000,000 and 7,000,000 pounds by these changes. That is as near as we can get at it. The architect thinks with this great weight gone the danger from the tower settling will be removed. I think the building will look nearly as well without the tower as with it.”
Chicago Tribune, March 11, 1894
Sailors climbing the mast of a derrick at the top of the Board of Trade tower yesterday attracted hundreds of spectators on Jackson and La Salle streets. The contractors were engaged in the difficult task of taking down the big gilded schooner at the top of the tower. The ship, which looks from the ground to be a toy affair, is of iron, over eleven feet long, and rests on the top of an iron mast six inches in diameter. The ship cannot be removed from the top of the mast, but the two must be taken down together. A derrick has been erected about ten feet from the apex of the spire, and one arm was swung alongside the golden ship. Sailors then went up to fasten the ship and mast securely to the derrick. Three hundred feet from the sidewalk the sailors climbed about fearlessly and succeeded in securely fastening the ropes; then they crawled down, and tomorrow morning the ship will be lowered and placed in the exchange hall as a souvenir of the lost tower.
The InterOcean, March 12, 1894
The gilded ship on the Board of Trade tower that has so long o’ertopped the masts that ornament our odoriferous river has come down from its aerial perch and will be dry-docked in Exchange Hall. Speculators out of luck can now see their ship come in without extra charge.
The InterOcean, March 14, 1894
The large ship that has been on the top of the Board of Trade tower for nine years was placed on the Exv=change floor, near the south entrance, where the vessel men make their headquarters. In the morning they had a christening as the boat had no name. They called it the Hugh McMillan, in honor of the popular agent of the Western Transportation line. The affair was a very pleasant one and the usual bottle was broken to do it up in real ship shape. After mid-day, when McMilan had left the floor, those who staid until the close took down the sign board and were ready for another christening, but no available master of ceremonies was found.
CBOT Looking up LaSalle towards Jackson – 1894
Photographer is Charles E. Spaak. David Girson is the owner of the image. Charles immigrated to US in 1885 and used his camera for work and home use.
The building on the left would be the The Grand Pacific Hotel. The building on the right is The Royal Insurance Building. The portion of this building along Lasalle housed what’s listed as the Naller, Gaff, and Councel or Counell Buildings.
Building center has engraving “Erected in 1883” (the building was completed in 1885). Crane at top of building dismantling the original bell tower completed in 1885. The clock has already been removed but the bell is barely noticeable through the two arched openings.
Scaffolding can be seen in center of building and a construction barrier along the front of the building with advertisements on it. One ad promotes deposit vaults for silverware papers & jewelry. The other visible ad is for Revell’s Furniture Store at Wabash and Adams. A sign on the Pacific Hotel Column, says “Grand Pacific Café”.
On the sidewalk just off center left, is a man in full top coat with top hat and cane. Next to him is a light post with the name “Quincy” at the top. Ahead of him is a man in common clothes, both men walking toward Jackson. In the center almost in front of the entrance is a large wagon driven by 2 horses and one driver. On the west side of the street a single horse driven covered wagon with a single driver.
Chicago Board of Trade
Photographed by Barnes-Crosby
Chicago Board of Trade with Clock Tower Removed
Chicago Board of Trade
Robinson Maps 1886
Volume 1, Plate 1
Chicago Board of Trade
Sanborn Fire Insurance Map
History Tallest Buildings in Chicago
After the clock tower was removed the “tallest building in Chicago” record was then held by the 302 ft tall Masonic Temple. Built on caissons surrounded by muck, the trading house was rendered structurally unsound in the 1920s when construction began across the street on the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. The 1885 building was subsequently demolished in 1929, and the exchange temporarily moved to Van Buren and Clark while a new building was constructed at the LaSalle and Jackson site.
Mr. Arthur W. Cutten, known as the “Corn King”, has asked for the two large statues, representing Labor and Commerce, which stood above the Jackson Boulevard entrance.” Cutten got the statues and supposedly had them transported via wagon to adorn the land of his “Sunny Acres Farm” in Glen Ellyn. Eventually these statues were cleaned up and were in prominent display at Forest Preserve District of Dupage County, and now they stand in a little plaza next to the current Chicago Board of Trade.
Between demolition of this building and completion of its successor on the same site, the Board of Trade occupied a temporary building at 447-511 South Clark Street which was demolished in 1947 when Congress Parkway was widened.
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