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Life Span: 1886-1941
Location: Northwest corner of Pacific (LaSalle) & Van Buren streets, 332 S. La Salle Street
Architect: Burnham & Root
RIALTO building, 1886-1941, was at 132-48 W. Van Buren street, on the northwest corner of S. LaSalle street, and was known last as the 332 S. La Salle Street building and earlier as the Postal Telegraph building. It was built nine stories high, with one basement, on spread foundations, using beam and/or rail grillages. Two stories were added later. The Rialto was so named because of the bridge connecting it with the Board of Trade building. Burnham & Root were the architects
Rand McNally’s Bird’s Eye Views of Chicago, 1893
Bounded on three sides by Van Buren Street, Sherman Street, and Pacific Avenue, is so called because of a bridge which connects its upper floors with the main hall of the Board of Trade, directly north. The Rialto was one of the early high steel buildings of Chicago, and its architects planned with special reference to light and air. Its frontage on Van Buren Street is 175 feet, and on Sherman Street and Pacific Avenue 144 feet. It is 160 feet high, with 9 stories and basement, 420 offices, and 5 passenger elevators. It is occupied by grain, commission, and insurance companies; and the Drainage Commission, in itself a government, has its headquarters on an upper floor. Erected in 1886 at a cost of $700,000.
Chicago Tribune, May 1, 1886
THE RIALTO-BRIDGE WAR.
It Has Broken Out Afresh—Things in Worse Shape Than Before—The Board of Trade People Get Out an Injunction.
The Rialto-bridge war has broken out afresh, and things are in worse shape than ever. The Rialto proprietors had all but completed theiIron-work of a covered bridgeway between their building and the exchange-hall floor of the Board of Trade when the directors of the Board of Trade at a special, meeting held Thursday, decided that the work must proceed no further. They would not, it is claimed, have interfered with an open bridge that did not darken the vestibule of the exchange-hall and make the transom of none effect, but what they please to term a corridor that shuts out both light and air they could not permit.
When the Borrd or Trade directors several weeks ago intimated to their Rialto neighbors that they would offer no forcible resistance to the construction of a bridge they did not issue any formal veto against a covered bridge. Late yesterday afternoon, however, the board’s attorney secured an injunction from Judge Shepard restraining the proprietors of the Rtialto from building a bridge between their building and the Board or Trade. Further work on the bridge will thus be stopped, and it is understood that the directors of the Board of Trade will do their best at the earliest possible moment to compel the Rialto proprietors to remove the portion of the bridge already constructed. As, the directors of the Rialto company had fixed on May 1 as the day of opening their new building the injunction must be very galling, and looks like a piece of very sharp practice, considering the fact that the bridge is practically erected. Several tenants are to move into their new offices in the Rialto today.
Robinson Fire Map
Volume 1, Plate 1
Chicago Tribune, April 19, 1902
The Postal Telegraph Cable company has leased two entire floors to be added to the Rialto Building, Van Buren, Sherman, and La Salle streets, for a term of twenty-five years from May 1, 1905, at an annual rent of $30,000, or $750,000 for the term. The name of the building is also to be changed to Postal Telegraph Building,” and $250,000 is to be expended in remodeling it so as to convert it into a first-class office building. A feature of the remodeling will be a new entrance on La Salle street, formerly Pacific avenue. D. H. Burnham & Co. is preparing the plans.
Innovations in the Offices.
The telegraph company will have 32,000 square feet of floor space and it is the purpose to provide several innovations which will contribute to the comfort and improvement of its employes, such as a library and reading-room, and classroom for the study of advanced electricity. A large restaurant also will be provided.
The north half of the upper two floors will be thrown into one room to constitute the operating-room. It will be provided with galleries and with every modern convenience. The executive offices will occupy the south half of the two floors. The lease provides that the building shall be ready for the company to begin installing its wires eight months prior to the beginning of the term.
Abandon Present Operating-Room.
The company will abandon its present operating-rooms on the thirteenth floor of the Stock Exchange Building, but will retain the business office at the corner of the ground floor.
Several locations are said to have been offered the company, but the Rialto Building was selected because it obviated maintaining a special office for Board of Trade business. The company now has 156 employes on this work alone. Altogether the company has almost 700 men in Chicago.
Proof Against Consolidation.
The action of the company in making this lease is regarded as conclusive proof against any consolidation with any organization.
The present Rialto Building is nine stories high, with a frontage of 174 feet on Van Buren street and Board of Trade place and 144 feet on Sherman and La Salle streets. The Swift commission valued the building at $684,560 and the ground at $594,990, or $1,279,550 for the two. The 1899 valuation was $1,135,200 and the 1901 valuation was $1,243,380.
The ground was leased on May 12, 1885, by Philip D. Armour and Sidney A. Kent to the Chicago Deposit Vault Company for ninety nine years at an annual rent of $30,000. The building was erected prior to 1890 and is owned and operated by the Rialto Company.
Rand McNally’s Bird’s Eye Views of Chicago
Chicago Tribune, January 31, 1941
BY AL CHASE.
Advancing years and high taxes are sending what is termed the loop’s oldest office building into the wrecker’s hands. The 11 story, 56 year old 332 South La Salle Street building, which cost more than a million dollars, is to be razed and replaced with a one story “taxpayer,” to contain a garage and stores. Completion is set for late in the year
Erected in 1885 from plans by the late Daniel H. Burnham, the 332 building then contained nine stories and was called the Rialto building.
It was connected by bridge with the old Board of Trade building, across a private court. It fronted 142 feet on both La Salle and Sherman streets and 175 feet on Van Buren street.
Joined to Bnord of Trade.
When 19 years old two stories were added to the building, the new space was leased to the Postai Telegraph company for its Chicago offices and the property was rechristened Postal Telegraph building. In 1930 the present name was adopted.
Alfred Cowles was one of a group which owned and erected the original building. His son, Alfred Cowles Jr., was president of the Rialto Trust during his lifetime, and Alfred Cowles III. now is head of the trust.
Of Monolithic Construction.
The proposed “taxpayer,” designed by Cowles & Colean, Chicago architects, is to be a monolithic reinforced concrete structure (concrete poured into forms, making the walls a solid block of cement) without veneer of any sort. This is said to be the first such treatment of a commercial building in the loop.
One-third of the main floor, half of the basement, and all of the root, containing about 60,000 square feet, have been leased to Downtown Parking Stations, Inc., operated by N. R. Dispenza and S. C. Chadwick. The lease, made thru Aldis & Co., named managing and renting agents of the building, is for 15 years on a minimum guarantee and percentage basis.