Chicago Tribune, 17 February 1940
Wrecked In New Deal Depression
More Structures Torn Down than Erected
By Al Chase
For seven years—the duration of the New Deal depression—more buildings, both business and residential, have been torn down in Chicago than have been erected. Since 1933 laborers with pickets rather than the wielders of the trowel, hammer and saw have got the money. Along with the Roosevelt hard times, ever mounting taxes and obsolescence have been contributing factors.
Millions of dollars worth of buildings in downtown Chicago have disappeared at the hands of the wrecking crews and thousands of residential units, both single family dwellings and flat buildings, have been torn down.
Loop Towers Cut Down
Towering loop structures, once world famous and supposedly good for many more years, have been razed. One and two story “taxpayers” or open air parking lots have taken their places.
The Masonic Temple, built in 1890 and Portland Block, built in 1873.
The Capitol building (originally known as Masonic Temple) at State and Randolph streets is probably the most conspicuous victim of New Deal depression demolition. It was built in 1890, and for many years was intentionally famous for being the world’s tallest office building. It has been replaced by a two story “taxpayer.”
Recently the Marshall Field estate announced that it would tear down the famous Great Northern Hotel—at one time the central west’s leading hostelry. It was built in 1891. A one story “taxpayer” is to be erected on the site at the northeast corner of Jackson Boulevard and Dearborn Street.
In the next block north on Dearborn Street, between Adams and Quincy streets, the Cyrus Hall McCormick estate has decided to raze the Bedford Building, built in 1890, and the Temple Court building, built in 1885. It has not been determined whether to build a taxpayer or use the ground
as a parking lot.
Medinah Building Razed.
The Medinah building, at Jackson Boulevard and Wells Street, was built in 1893 and for years was one of the show structure of downtown Chicago. It was demolished in 1934 while it was in its structural middle age.
The Guardian Bank building in 1880 at the southeast corner of Dearborn and Monroe streets, went to the wreckers in 1934 also. A two story “taxpayer” replaced it. The 11 story Adams Express building, built in 1884 and adjoining it on the south, was razed at the same time.
The Atlas block, built shortly after the great Chicago fire at the northwest corner of Randolph street and Wabash avenue, is the latest old time office building to be doomed. It will be wrecked on May 1 and will be replaced with a “taxpayer.”
Other Downtown Buildings.
Other buildings in the downtown area which have been wrecked since 1933 are:
Illinois theater building, 63 East Jackson boulevard, built in 1900 and then considered America’s finest playhouse. The site is now used for parking.
The Central Trust Company of Illinois building, 125 West Monroe street, built in 1900, and an outstanding bank building for many years.
Union Bank building, 25 North Dearborn street, built in 1880 and supplanted by “taxpayer” in 1934.
Labrador building, 59 East Adams street, demolished in 1937 and replaced by “taxpayer.”
The Gerald building, 163 West Washington street, torn down in 1936 and space used as parking lot.
Portland block, southeast corner of Dearborn and Washington streets, replaced in 1934 with a two story “taxpayer.”
Ceylon building, northwest corner of Lake street and Wabash avenue.
Wexford building, northwest corner of Wabash avenue and Van Buren street, replaced with one story “taxpayer.”
Cort Theater building, 132 North Dearborn street, razed in 1934 and space used for parking.
Commercial building, northwest corner of Lake and Dearborn streets, roen down and space used for parking.
Replaced by “Taxpayer.”
American Commerce building, southwest corner of Wabash avenue and Adams street, torn down in 1937 and replaced by a two story “taxpayer.” A third story was added recently.
The former Chicago Evening Post building, 20 South Market street, wrecked in 1935.
The Albert Pock building at 208-12 West Randolph street, torn down in 1934 and space used for parking.
Barnhart building, 25-31 North Wells street, wrecked for parking.
Five story building, southeast corner of Madison and Franklin streets, wrecked in 1934 and space used for parking.
The Great Northern Hotel, built in 1891 and the Illinois Theater, built in 1900.
Formerly Owned by Patten.
Eight and six story buildings, 618-34 Sherman street, once owned by the late James A. Patten, wheat king, torn down last year.
Five story building at 329 South Wabash avenue.
Six story building at 4-6 North Franklin street.
Five story building at 308-10 West Madison street.
Three story building at 616 South Wabash avenue,
Eight story building at 118 North La Salle street.
Five story building at the southwest corner of Randolph and Franklin streets.
Seven story building at 115-17 North Wells street.
Six story building at 364-76 West Monroe street.
Six story building at 430 South Wabash street.
Six story building at the northwest corner of Jackson and Clinton streets.
Three buildings at 178-86 North Clark street.
Other Chicago Buildings.
Other miscellaneous type buildings razed since 1933 are:
North Side Turner hall, 820 North Clark street.
Holland hotel. built in 1892 at the northwest corner of Lake Park avenue and 53d street.
Winston apartment building, southwest corner of Michigan and Chicago avenues.
Bucklen apartment building, southwest corner of Michigan and 8th street, built in 1888,
Five story furniture warehouse at the northeast corner of Grand avenue and St. Clair street.
Four story building, northwest corner of Clark street and Wrightwood avenue.
Among the list of notable residences wrecked since 1935 are:
John V. Farwell residence, northwest corner of Michigan avenue and Pearson street.
Byron L. Smith bouse, 2140 Prairie avenue, which was built in the 1880’s.
Joseph Medill home at the northwest corner of Ontario street and Wabash avenue. Mr. Medill was editor of The Tribune for 44 years.
Charles F. Spaulding house, at the northwest corner of Astor and Goethe streets.
A. J. Kasper house, 628 Deming place.
Former Eugene Field residence, 738 Diversey parkway.
D. F. Scully house, southeast corner of Dearborn and Washington streets, have received notice to move. The owner has not yet decided on how the site will be used.
Outside the loop area soaring taxes and depreciation also have been responsible for the tremendous demolition campaign against property waged by discouraged owners.
When will it stop? No one knows.
Actual page from the February 17, 1940 Chicago Tribune article.