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Grand Pacific Hotel
Life Span: 1873-1895/1921
Location: Entire block surrounded by S Clark, W Quincy, S La Salle & W Jackson streets
Architect: W. W. Boyington
The second Grand Pacific Hotel was one of the first two prominent hotels built in Chicago, Illinois, after the Great Chicago Fire. Along with contemporary Chicago luxury hotels such as the Palmer House, Tremont House, and Sherman House, it was built in the palazzo architectural style of the day. The hotel was managed for more than 20 years by John Drake. His sons, John B. Drake and Tracy C. Drake were the developers and proprietors of the Blackstone Hotel and Drake Hotel.
It was the site where Standard Time System was adopted on October 11, 1883. Many notable celebrities stayed here, including Oscar Wilde on his first visit to Chicago as part of his 1882 lecture tour of America.
At the time it was built, it was regarded, in dimensions and the proposed scope of its operations, as something mammoth, and many believed the time had not arrived for a hotel of this magnitude, especially in its location. Undeterred by fire losses and adverse opinions, however, the Pacific Hotel Company, endorsed strongly by the Michigan Southern and Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific railroad companiesbegan rebuilding immediately after the fire. The grand hotel was opened in June 1873, at a cost of one and a half million dollars.
The Grand Pacific Hotel,
Leased by Gage Bros. & Rice, of the Sherman House, to be Opened March 1, 1873
The Land Owner, April 1872
Chicago Tribune, May 16, 1873
At last, after conquering all the elements of opposition, a great fire, and the dead weight of public incredulity as to the feasibility of the enterprise, the Grand Pacific has become an accomplished fact. And while over a week will elapse before it is thrown open to the public, yet it is not improper to anticipate a little, and to describe the hotel as it will be in a fortnight, so that those who expect to be in Chicago about that time may know where they best find food and shelter. Such a “coming event” as the opening of the Pacific may naturally cast a very decided shadow before.
Of the external architectural appearance of the hotel it is unnecessary here to speak. It has been minutely described before, and it has been gazed at, from turret to foundation-stone, by thousands of residents and visitors. Besides that, the object of the present article is to describe the comforts and conveniences within rather than the beauties without.
THE HOTEL COVERS THE BLOCK
bounded by Clark, LaSalle, Jackson and Quincy streets, 325 feet from east to west, 186 from north to south, or 60,450 square feet. On the ground floor this is all occupied. Above that, there has to be deducted the space taken up by a couple of courts, the western one, 100 feet by 60, the eastern one 70 x 70. Each of the upper floors, therefore, cover 49,550 square feet. Fronting upon four streets, three of them important ones, the hotel has naturally a great advantage in the matter of exits and entrances. But while local situation has done so much in this respect, the practical common sense of the planners has done more, and they hit upon an idea which has never been carried out, even in the hotels where it is practicable. Every one who has ever been in or near the entrance to a hotel is familiar with the constant annoyance which accompanies the arrival and departure of buses, the crowds of people, pushing up stairs, and the trunks which are hustled along without regard to the comfort of bystanders. At the Pacific, by a very simple arrangement, all this is avoided. One of the main entrances runs directly from Jackson street to the main office, and all incoming and outgoing guests use that alone. The gentlemen congregated around the Clark and LaSalle street entrances, or in the spacious halls, would be undisturbed by the entrance of a thousand guests and all their baggage, Just facing this entrance hall, is
to the left of it a private parlor, where ladies can sit until rooms have been assigned to them. One of the elevators is within a few steps, and takes them at once to their apartments. This private parlor, or reception-room, connecting as it does so closely to the elevator, is also used by ladies who may desire to call upon friends at the hotel in a plain dress, and do not care about making their appearance in the grand parlors. They can go there, send up word to the person they desire to see, and she can come down, unnoticed.
In addition to this entrance, and those in the centre of the building on Clark and LaSalle streets, there are four others, a lady’s private entrance on Jackson street, just west of the one already mentioned, another still further west on Jackson, leading to the western main-hall, and two on Quincy street, which, owing to the unimportance of the thoroughfare are of a subordinate nature.
STORE AND OFFICES.
It may be said incidentally, that on the ground floor on Clark street there are eight stores, of fine size, admirably finished and almost on a line with the sidewalk. Clark street is given up to retail trade, and therefore the room which the hotel had at its disposal on that side was devoted to stores, while on LaSalle it has only one office for rent, ten upstairs, and a dozen in the light and airy basement, which was made on this side of the building. There can be found no finer offices in Chicago than these, and their proximity to the great Government building of the future, makes them of special value.
The Grand Pacific Hotel,
Left: The Ladies’ Stairway
Right: The Principal Stairway, With a View of the Rotunda, Looking from the LaSalle Street Entrance
THE GRAND HALL.
Entering from Clark street, and passing along the broad corridor, one reaches the first grand hall, in the northwestern corner of which is the office, elegantly finished in dark wood. Passing up a short flight of stairs, made necessary by the LaSalle street basement, and still going westward, the second and larger hall is reached, the grand centre for the denizens of the hotel. It forms an immense room 100 feet by 60, lit from a skylight by day, and innumerable gas-burners by night. Rows of columns at a distance of ten feet from the wall extend around the room. On its northern side are the billiard and bar-rooms, both elegantly fitted up, and opening upon Quincy street, as well as into the hall within this room, and on the northern side of it, occupying a space of over 200 feet, is to be the telegraph office, which will be the finest and most comprehensive in any hotel in this or any other country. It will have a connection with all the railroad wires, so as to bulletin every train, with the city telegraph, and with the fire alarm telegraph, so that a person who is at the hotel, but who lives in a distant part of the city, can be informed as to the precise whereabouts of a conflagration. On the south side of this room, and fronting upon Jackson street, are railroad and steamboat offices, where travelers can obtain all the tickets and information they desire; a wash-room with twenty-two basins, so large a number that it will be impossible for a man to have to wait in order to perform his ablutions, and just in front of it, facing Jackson street, the barber’s shop, which is to be kept by Petilion, a name familiar to the smooth-shaven youth of Chicago. Of the water-closets, and other similar similar appurtenances, it is unnecessary to speak, except merely to say that they are all that such things should be. The main stairway, leading from the eastern to the western hall, is on the left hand of the office. On the right-hand side is a narrower flight, leading up to the private office of the lessee’s. Immediately adjoining this, and facing Quincy street, is a good-sized room, which will be used by the clerks of the hotel as a dining-room, and which is also serviceable for small meetings of citizens, serving the same useful purpose that Parlor No. 1 used to do at the Tremont. Next to this is the servants’ dining-room, the food being lowered by an elevator from the kitchen above. There are three vaults, one in the office, for storing papers, etc., of the proprietors, and another on the floor above, where the valuables of permanent guests are deposited.
1873 black and white in-text wood engraving of an illustration by Henri Lovie (1829-1875) that depicted the facade of the Grand Pacific Hotel building.
THE GRAND PROMENADE.
From the western hall the main stairway leads to the second floor. Of the many flights of stairs in this building, it may be said that they all have the merit of being well lighted. There are none of them, except the servants’ flight, which are not so placed as to confront a window. At the head of a double staircase is what is called the Grand Promenade, 100 feet long by 80 wide, the greatest length being from north to south, and a row of iron columns running nearly through its centre. No such promenade is to be found in any American hotel. At the southern extremity are the parlors, fronting upon Jackson street, 100 feet in length and 24 in width. For convenience sake, they are divided into three rooms, with folding doors between them, the middle one being about fifty feet long; the two others twenty-five each. In each of the se end parlors is a beautifully carved white marble mantel-pieces. The ceilings of these rooms are ornately frescoed, so as to correspond with the carpet, which has centre pieces of fruits, flowers, etc.
THE DINING ROOM.
If the office is the head of as hotel, the dining-room snd kitchen are the stomach thereof, and it is the failure to recognize the latter fact that has made so many American hotels merely forcing-houses for dyspepsia. One may pardon indifferent rooms, negligent call-boys, and careless chambermaids, but a badly cooked or served meal is a thing to which no person can bed reconciled. If he ever does become so, he has morally degenerated. But from present appearances, and from the past reputation of Mr. Rice and the Gages, there need be no fear that the Pacific Hotel will be run for the chief benefit of the doctors and apothecaries. The dining-room is in the northwestern corner of the second floor, opening out upon the Grand Promenade. It is 125 feet by 60, making it the largest dining hall in the country. By day it is lighted by twenty-three windows looking out upon LaSalle and Quincy streets and one of the courts, and by night by seven bronze chandeliers and by an infinite number of smaller gas jets along the walls. The floor is paved with black and white marble, and the ceiling is delicately frescoed. The room has a frontage of about sixty feet on the court, and it is intended in a short time to make a conservatory extending that distance, coming down to about the middle of the windows, and about thirty feet in width. Summer and winter this will be filled with flowering plants, and those delicate tastes which have heretofore been scantily ministered by occasional flowers ipon the table will find here all the nutriment they can possibly desire. But, large as this room is, it does not furnish all the accommodation that is desired. Consequently, a room seventy feet by seventy, on the corner of Clark and Quincy streets is set apart as a ladies’ ordinary, and there also a couple of smaller rooms, one fronting LaSalle street, and connecting with the main dining-hall, which may be used for private parties, club dinners, etc., and one on the eastern side of the building where meals may be obtained at all hours, and where those may be fed who have been so unfortunate to be away at the regular time.
NEXT COME THE KITCHENS,
covering a space of about 140 feet by 60, and fronting on Quincy street, lying between the grand dining-room and ladies’ ordinary, and immediately above the servants’ eating-room, with which it is connected, as has been said, by an elevator. It is unnecessary to go into a minute description of the furniture in a kitchen, since it would give to but a few experts an idea of the completeness with which this part of the hotel is equipped. There is a range with a frontage, so to speak, of thirty-two feet. There are soup kettles larger than than the copper caldrons in which Medea boiled down the father of Jason. There are immense ovens for the sole use of the pastry cook, ranges for waffles and cakes, boilers for vegetables, and a hundred utensils unknown in the ordinary kitchen. In adjoining rooms are the refrigerators, the dishes, etc. It dwarfs our largest crockery stores to look at the piles of plates, cups, and saucers, etc., heaped upon these shelves. Their purchases are made in no picayune fashion. They order plates by the hundred dozen, and the firm that does the furnishing for this hotel does well even if it has no other business for the year. There are also rooms for dish-washing, etc., but these need no special mention.
Grand Pacific Hotel
Andreas’ History of Chicago
THE SLEEPING ROOMS.
The southwestern part of this floor are a number of bed-rooms, those fronting on the street being high-priced, and those looking out on the court being much less expensive. One great difficulty with hotels has been that their rooms are of but two kinds, the very good and expensive, and the poor and cheap. The old and infirm, who wanted rooms near the ground, have been compelled to pay roundly for them, or to go without. The Pacific has for the first time, obviated that trouble, and it has provided cheap and convenient rooms for persons belonging to the above named category.
On the third floor, there are only sleeping-rooms, and no grand dining-halls to hinder the laying out of the space in a symmetrical manner. Two grand corridors stretch the whole length of the building from east to west, while four run across it from north to south. At each end of these long hall-ways is a double window. Wherever one goes, there is light, and a prospect out upon the street. The fourth, fifth, and sixth floors are laid out upon the same plan.
THERE ARE IN ALL
four hundred and sixty rooms, some single and some double-bedded, some in suites of two, others of three, and some of five. One hundred and fifty rooms have baths, water-closets, and closet-room for trunks. All have marble mantels and grates. One hundred and twenty-five of those which are lighted from the ceiling, have chandeliers which are fitted with patent drop-lights, which can be easily drawn down, and which =cannot be easily put out of order. Of course, the rooms vary greatly in size and in conveniences, but even the poorer ones are good. In some respects, the twenty-four corner rooms are the best in the building, owing to their complete isolation. They have corridors upon both sides of them, and are consequently without adjoining rooms, and the annoyances which sometimes result therefrom. The Mansard is carried up so high that no slope can be perceived in the ceilings of the rooms on that floor. Ordinarily, these rooms, which look out upon interior courts, are exceedingly inferior ones, because the courts are so small that the rooms looking upon them are deprived of light and air. But in the case of the Pacific Hotel, these courts are so large that no such inconvenience results. No matter how low down these rooms are, it is possible to see a liberal stretch of sky from them. The windows in all the rooms are large, with deep seats, and are provided with patent window stops, sliding in grooves, preventing all rattling or entrance of dust. Each one has its bell, but in order to avoid the inconvenience of a multiplicity of calls at the office, and the bother of sending messengers from the ground floor, a more convenient system has been adopted. There is an annunciator on each floor with a messenger to answer it. When a person touches his bell, he at the same moment indicates his room on the annunciator, and the number of his floor at the office. If the waiter does not attend to his duty, the number of the floor remains uncovered on the office indicator, and then the office calls up to that floor to inquire why the bell has not been answered.
for the bedrooms, parlors, etc., was made by Thayer & Tobey, after patterns specially prepared by them. While there is no extravagance in upholstering, yet everything is rich and substantial, the chairs and sofas in the sleeping-rooms being covered with crimson, red, scarlet, or green plush, the color always being chosen with reference to the predominantly hue in the carpet. The patterns for the furniture are not known to the trade, and cannot be found anywhere else in the country, though their elegance and convenience will make them popular the moment they are known. The carpets, which were specially imported for the hotel, and are of styles which have not yet been seen here, are very beautiful, and many men in the carpet trade have visited in the hotel, since they could learn most conveniently what the latest European patterns were. The amount of carpeting required may be partially arrived at by considering that there are 6,000 running feet of corridors, 10 feet wide.
PRECAUTIONS AGAINST FIRE.
The precautions against fire seem to be thorough. Six pipes, connecting with the street-hydrants, run to the top of the building. Hose can be attached to them on every floor, and the building flooded in a few minutes. On the upper floor are large tanks, not open, as usual, and fill from the top, but boiler-tanks, filled from below, and taking the same pressure as the engine, so that the pressure all over the house will be regulated at the boiler. It is a new method, and an application of the Holly system. In addition to this, the floors are all filled, and brick are put between the floor-joists, dividing the house into sections, so that the fire cannot run along them. There is also a brick filling 15 inches high, rising above the base-boards. The kitchen, one of the inflammable parts of the house, is also made thoroughly fire-proof. If there is any alarm of fire, there are seven stairways leading down from the upper floor, so that there would be no trouble about emptying the hotel in a few minutes. These stairs, too, are so arranged that they do not serve as shafts to carry the flames from floor to floor, and the elevator-ways are made fire-proof, so that there can be no trouble there. Desirous of using every modern invention for the discovery of fire, a fire bulb, or fire annunciator, has been placed in every room of the building. This simple and effective idea, which is finding its way into all hotels, consists of a bulb nearly filled with mercury, which is fixed in the ceiling of a room generally. This bulb is entered by two metallic wires, one at the bottom, touching the mercury, the other at the top, and not touching it. As the temperature in the room rises, the mercury expands, as in a thermometer, and when the heat reaches a certain point it expands so much as to come in contact with the upper wire. Then the circuit is complete and the little alarm-bell in the office sets up a furious ringing and does not stop till the temperature is lowered, and the mercury falls. The degree of heat at which the bell shall ring depends on the amount of mercury in the bulb, which can be graduated as required.
That part of the basement which is not rented for offices, and the other underground rooms, are used as wine vaults, store-rooms, engine-rooms, etc., and for doing the laundry-work of the establishment. It is enough to say that they are commodious, very well arranged, and provided wityh everything that is needed to make them perfect.
OF WHAT IT IS COMPOSED.
In order to give a better idea of the dimensions of this immense building than can be obtained from this foregoing description, and to enable the reader to feel its bigness, the following figures are given:
There went into the Pacific Hotel 7,000,000 brick.
12,000 cubic feet of limestone and 40,000 of sandstone.
In connection with these, 10,000 barrels of lime, and 8,000 yards of sand, were used.
Over 500 tons of cast and wrought iron, in the shape of beams, etc.
2,025,500 square feet of lumber were used in joists, rafters, beams, etc.
237,000 in inside blinds and shutters 87,000 lineal feet, or 18 miles in base-boards, and 75,000 in door and window casings, and 52,000 square feet of walnut and ash ceiling, covering jointly two and three quarter acres.
There were 930 windows, 1,070 doors and locks, and 19,413 pairs of butts and hinges.
The price of all this carpentry work was $220,000.
In connection with the plumbing work, there were used a mile and three quarters of iron-soil pipe, and nearly as much as brass hot water pipe, 60,687 pounds of lead pipe, 6,000 pounds of solder.
There went into the building over eight miles of gas-pipe, and there were 420 chandeliers with 1,518 burners, and 880 brackets with 1,280 burners, making 2,808 in all.
There were two-fifths of a mile of speaking-tubes, and thirty eight miles of wire.
There were put in of all kinds, 92,188 square feet of glass, being nearly four-fifths of an acre.
Of slate and marble tiling there is more than half an acre.
There are 320 marble mantels and grates.
The contract price of the building was $878,838.94.
Adding to that the value of brick, marble, etc., obtained from the old building, amounting to $122,518, the total cost of exclusive furnishing, of course, was, $1,000,857.94. The mason and stone setting cost $195,000, the lime and sandstone $150,000, the painting and glazing $52,000, and the plastering, $65,000.
Grand Pacific Hotel
Lakeside Monthly, October, 1872
The Grand Pacific Hotel is the largest hotel structure in the world. It was built after plans by W. W. Boyington, architect, by a company chartered by special act of the Legislature in 1869. Its stockholders include the two great railroad companies, the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern and the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific, whose magnificent new passenger house stands at the foot of LaSalle street, one block distant from the Pacific.
Several of our largest and most widely known capitalists have joined in the enterprise. At the time of the fire the hotel was within a few months of completion, and was almost totally destroyed. It has been solidly and beautifully rebuilt, and better than before in many particulars ; and the
work of finishing is now going on rapidly. The total cost and value of the building is $1,000,000; the lessees will expend $400,000 in furnishing the hotel. The value of the ground occupied is nearly $800,000; so that the Pacific enterprise represents an investment of nearly two and a quarter million dollars.
The building occupies an entire block, bounded by Clark, Jackson, LaSalle and Quincy streets, an acre and a half in area. The materials of three fronts is fine olive-tinted Ohio sandstone, crowned with Mansards and towers, constructed with iron and slate. The general style of the building is French. It is much admired for its effective simplicity, with a sufficiency of ornamentation to relieve the vast facades, particularly that on the south, which has an extent of 325 feet. The first prominent feature that strikes the observer on entering this splendid structure are the two great central courts, both devoted to the public uses of the house. These are crowned by beautiful domes, and will lack no feature of decoration requisite for effectiveness. Upon these courts open the eight entrances to the hotel, and from these rise the flights of stairs to the floor above. This lower floor has eight elegant stores, to be leased for retail purposes, on Clark street, and twenty-two offices on LaSalle street.
The main office is in the east court, with all the best appliances and elegant fittings worthy of the house. The second floor is reached by the grand staircase—a superb construction, in white marble, in the centre of the house. On this floor are the grand and private parlors, the grand dining hall, ladies’ ordinary, club dining room and breakfast-room, the conservatory, and a fire-proof working department, itself as large in area as many entire hotels. To the whole arrangement of the Grand Pacific, and to its access and connection with the other parts of the house, several months’ study were given by H. M. Smith, the founder of the scheme, and secretary of the company, among the leading hotel men of the country, and the best American hotels ; and it is pronounced unsurpassed in every desirable feature.
The lessees of the Grand Pacific for twenty years are Messrs. George W. Gage, David A. Gage, and John A. Rice, long of the Sherman House, whose reputation is world-wide, and who will furnish the great hotel in sumptuous style. They promise from present appearances to enter upon their new career as hosts early in the spring of 1873.
Chicago’s First Half Century, 1833-1883
GRAND PACIFIC HOTEL.
THE HEADQUARTERS OF STATESMEN.
If a newspaper reporter or a citizen wants to nnd traveling statesmen he goes to the Grand Pacific Hotel, for it is there they always stop. Mine host Drake has entertained more famous men than any landlord of his generation, and within the walls of the great palace over which he presides have been lodged and banqueted all the great men of the generation. It was here that President Arthur stopped during his recent visit to Chicago, and while he was attending the National Convention in 1880. It was here that General Garfield was when nominated for President, and here his first reception was held. All the Senators, Congressmen, Cabinet officers, and other dignitaries make the Grand Pacific Hotel their rendezvous while in
It is also the headquarters of the railroad managers, and in one of its club-rooms their frequent gatherings are held. Mr Vanderbilt and Jay Gould always stop here when in Chicago, and all men whose taste leads them to select the best that can be had. Patti, the famous cantatrice; Nilsson, Gerster Kellogg, Albani. and all the famous artistes make it their home during the opera seasons. It is the stopping place of princes and dukes and earls when they visit us, and the list of famous people could be lengthened out to fill columns. Scarcely a day passes but some man or woman of worldwide fame writes his or her name upon the register, which bears the autographs of kings, emperors, and presidents.
The Grand Pacific is not only a great public ornament, and one of the sights rural visitors go to see, but it is kept in a manner that makes the people of Chicago proud of the house and its proprietors. All the great banquets are given here, and they are given on a scale that eclipses anything ever seen in the West. The Bar Association chose it as the proper, and, in fact, the only place at which Lord Coleridge could be entertained in a manner consonant with his dignity and fame.
It was with rare foresight and judgment that the hotel was located, for when its foundations were laid, it stood upon the extreme limit of the business district of the city, and thoughtless people said it was a foolish thing to place so noble a structure so far from the center of trade. But time and the growth of Chicago has demonstrated the wisdom of its projectors, for it is now in the most convenient and accessible locality. The Postoffice and Custom House have since been placed across the street in one direction, and the new Board of Trade, one of the finest buildings in the land, stands opposite in another. It will soon be the center of the new commercial district, for around it are being erected the finest blocks and business houses in Chicago. It is the nearest first-class hotel, to the three great depots of the city.
It is conveniently located to the places of amusement and otner attractions for which Chicago is famous. In convenience of location, in the luxuriousness of its apartments in the elegance of its table, its splendid service, and in all the whys and wherefores that go to make up the attractions and advantages of a hotel, it stands pre-eminent, and there is no place in the world where a traveler can secure such comforts, such style, and such attractions for the prices that are charged.
The senior proprietor, Mr. John B. Drake, who has kept a hotel here ever since Chicago is a city, and’ whose name is familiar to the traveling public, gives the affairs of the house his personal attention, and is scarcely absent a day during the entire year, but remains in the house looking after the comfort of his guests, greeting them upon their arrival, and bidding them farewell upon their departure, with a cordial courtesy that they always remember. His partners, Mr. Turner and Mr. Parker, are gentlemen well-known to the traveling public, as hosts of the highest order, and the gentlemanly corps of assistants are always attentive and polite.
Grand Pacific Hotel, 1892
Chicago Tribune, Feb 9, 1890
It was reported last night that a deal had been quietly concluded on the part of of Mr. Leiter, formerly of the firm of Field, Leiter & Co., whereby for the sum of $400,000 he has secured possession of the Grand Pacific Hotel. The deal, it is understood, only included the building and the leasehold, as Mr. Leiter already owns the ground on which the building stands.
There is no doubt that Landlord Drake has been doing a thriving business at the Grand Pacific. For years it has enjoyed a first-class patronage. The solid men of the country made their headquarters when in Chicago at the Grand Pacific. But with the erection of the Board of Trade Building just across the street, and the building of the score or more of the finest office buildings in the world in the immediate vicinity, the old Grand Pacific, once an imposing structure, became dwarfed in comparison. There was no lessening of the patronage; on the contrary, it showed a healthy and steady increase. But values has been so enhanced by the improvements mentioned that it was finally concluded that in order to make anything like a fair rate of interest on it the only recourse leftb to the owner was to purchase the building and have torn down, erecting in its stead an immense office building.
It is stated that the deal was finally consummated yesterday and that the work of tearing down the old hotel building will begin as soon as possible to make the necessary arrangements to that end.
THE GRAND PACIFIC’S HISTORY.
The Grand Pacific was just completed on the site of the present location when the fire of 1871 entirely destroyed it. The Pacific Hotel company, backed strongly by the Michigan Southern and the Chicago Rock Island & Pacific railroad companies, completed the present structure, and it was opened in June 1873, at a cost of one and a half millions. The first lessees were Gage Bros., and Rice, who operated the house until the fall of 1874, when John B. Drake purchased the lease and furniture, taking formal possession Jan. 1. For several years the hotel was conducted by John B. Drake & Co., the firm including John B. Drake, the late Sam Turner, and Sam W. Parker. After Mr. Turner’s death the firm name was changed to Drake, Parker & Co., the present proprietors and managers.
The building consists of six stories, with a mansard roof, and a basement, and is the second largest hotel in Chicago. It has always been a great favorite with the traveling public, and has been especially known as the headquarters in Chicago for railway men from all over the United States. It has also been a favorite stopping-place with politicians and has been the headquarters during National Conventions of the delegations from leading States of the Union. The insurance, electric, light, and trade conventions generally which have met within its walls have been almost without number.
When it was first erected, it was considered almost “out on the prairie,” as it was so far away from what was then looked upon as the business center. Now, however, as has already been stated, it is surrounded by some of the finest buildings in the world, and is the center of the Board of Trade district.
Grand Pacific Hotel Buffet
Grand Pacific Thanksgiving Day Menu
Chicago Tribune, January 27, 1895
The Grand Pacific Hotel, Chicago’s famous landmark, will soon be opened once more for business, and the landlord will be Col. Sam Parker. L. Z. Leiter and Col. Parker have come to terms and the result will be the complete renovation and remodeling of the famous hotel. Many old-fashioned features will be replaced by new ones, and yet there will be enough of the old and well-known Grand Pacific left to make all the old-timers feel at home.
The causes leading to the temporary abandonment of the Grand Pacific were published in THE TRIBUNE some weeks before even the parties to the lease were willing to admit such an event was probable. The main cause was a complication arising from too many landlords and tenants. The Northwestern University, as owner of the west half of the hotel, insisted on certain terms which L. Z. Leiter, who owns the Clark street side of the house, did not support. The Grand Pacific Hotel company, comprising several railroad interests, was willing to accept as tenant certain conditions which the sublessees, Drake, Parker & Co., regarded as impracticable. The up-shot of the four-handed negotiations was the turning over of all the furniture to the auctioneer, the winding up of the Grand Pacific Hotel company as a corporation, leaving Mr. Leiter and the university trustees with the keys of the east and west doors of the empty hotel in their pockets.
It was Mr. Leiter’s first intention when he found himself with half a big hotel on his hands to build a dividing wall between his part of the house and that belonging to the university, remodel the ground floor as a restaurant, and furnish the upper floors as a European hotel. An inkling of this purpose reached the ears of the university people, who foresaw the white elephant on their hands would become a dead elephant if the arrangement were carried into effect. They concluded to turn over to Mr. Leiter the whole matter of leasing their share of the premises. Instead of a four-handed negotiation the matter resolved itself into a simple agreement between Messrs. Letter and Parker.
From garret to cellar the prospective landlord and tenant inspected together the dismantled hotel. Where defects existed in the shape of imperfect means of communication between the various floors Col. Parker noted the fact and Mr. Leiter agreed to make the improvement. The elevator service, which had grown from old age, was one of the first subjects marked for reform. The ungainly and wasteful arrangement in the space where the bar formerly stood was another point of attack. Club-rooms, which had degenerated into little more than lumber rooms, were marked for abolition. The entire plan of the office, intended originally to afford a carriage drive from Clark street to Jackson street after the manner of a European hotel was decided to be obsolete and a fit subject for reformation at the architect’s hands. Away down to the cellar, where makeshift improvements marked the historical progress of the place fronm an old-fashioned to a modern Chicago hotel, Samt Parker pointed out to Mr. Leiter where demolition should precede wholesale reconstruction.
When the survey had been concluded it was decided to get estimates from architects before going any further with negotiations. The details of the various improvements were therefore submitted for plans and specifications as well ts estimates as to cost. Pending the conclusion of the architect’s labors Messrs. Leiter and Parker decided to take a vacation and both are now out of tbe city. It will probably take a month or so, therefore, before the work of remodeling the Grand Pacific begins in real earnest, and the rejuvenated hostelry will oe ready for occupation before next Christmas.
Grand Pacific Hotel, 1887
The west half of the building was torn down around 1895 to make way for the Illinois Trust and Savings Bank building. The east half was remodeled by architects Jenney and Mundie. The hotel continued in operation till 1921 to make way for the Continental Illinois Bank building.
Grand Pacific Hotel
Robinson Map 1886
Volume 1, Plate 1