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City Hall V
Life Span: 1871-1885
Location: SW corner of S LaSalle and W Adams streets
Architect: John M. Van Osdel
Chicago Tribune, December 19, 1871
Precisely two months ago yesterday, on the 18th of October, the first steps were taken for the erection of the new City Hall on Adams street. The Common Council had passed an order on the 16th directing the temporary accommodations for the City Government be erected in the Court House square, but the Board of Public Works, whose duty it was to construct the building, on looking over the ground were convinced that it was entirely unsuitable for the purpose, on account both of insufficient unbroken space, and of the fact that when the old Court House came to be repaired, the temporary building would have to be torn down and destroyed. The board were in favor of using the water reservoir lot on Adams street for the new building, and at length procured from the Mayor permission to do so, as it was easy to foresee that, if placed there, the building, after the city had done with it, could be profitably rented for stores and offices. These prudent counsels prevailed, and within the short space of sixty days a substantial, suitable and neat-looking brick structure, 173 feet square and two stories high, for about one-half of that area, has been begun and finished, and is now practically ready for occupancy. The direct personal supervision of the work from the beginning, together with the devising of plans and interior arrangements, have devolved upon Mr. W. S. Carter, Commissioner of the Board of Public Works from the South Division, to whose unflagging zeal and rigid economy the gratifying result is almost altogether due.
In the building provision has been made for both the City and County Governments, and all will agree that the disposition of the room has been most skillful and judicious. Four separate entrances have been provided, two on Adams street, one on LaSalle, and one on Quincy street, so that parties having business with the various departments can reach them directly and conveniently. The principal city officers on the ground floor, all of them communicating with the fire-proof vaults, which have been ingeniously and economically carved out of the old water reservoir. These vaults have walls three feet thick, of solid masonry, and are much safer than those in the old Court House. There are also, on the ground floor, unassigned rooms, which the county will probably be glad to occupy, these also connecting with the vaults. The counters throughout are of pine wood, and plainly constructed, the design being to incur the smallest possible amount of expense.
Up stairs is the Council Chamber, a large, pleasant, well-lighted room, 45×65 feet, with adjoining committee room. It is designed to partition off a portion of the chamber for the use of some one of the courts, as there is plenty of room to spare. On the same floor are numerous rooms for county use, and the area will be largely increased in the spring, when the entire building will be run up to a height of two stories. This will give a total space almost equal to the old Court House, wings included, and will well answer the requirements of both the City and County Governments for several years to come, or at least until the proper time arrives for the rebuilding of the Court House. The building is heated by steam throughout, a connection having been made with the Ogden House boilers, close at hand, which were but slightly injured in the fire. For furniture, all the officers, will fain be content with the plainest of walnut, the total expense of which will fall short of $3,000. in making these provisions, Mr. Carter has rightly concluded that the days are past for magnificent and expensive furniture and fixtures for city offices. Indeed, economy has been admirably studied in every detail, and it will, perhaps, surprise the public to find that the new City Hall, with its vast amount of convenient room and appointments, has cost not more than $40,000. The various branches of the City Government are moving in from day to day, as fast as their quarters are completed, and it will not be long before they are all concentrated under one roof as before.
From History of Chicago From the Earliest Period to the Present Time
Volume III-From the Fire of 1871 Until 1885 by A. T. Andreas
After the fire of 1871, the first thing was to secure offices and rooms for the various branches of the city government. On October 9, the headquarters of the mayor were temporarily located at the corner of Ann and Washington streets. At a meeting of the Common Council, on October 11, a committee was appointed to select a suitable building for the differcat offices of the city government. On the i2th. the report of the committee, recommending the Madison street Police Station as a place of meeting for the Common Council, was concurred in. A communication from Mayor Mason to the Council, of the same date, stated that he had “on yesterday decided to temporarily fix his office, and those of other city officers, at the corner of Hubbard Court and Wabash Avenue.” This, the Common Council met, by resolving at once “that the Mayor, Comptroller and City Clerk have their offices for the present in Madison street Police Station.”
At this meeting it was also resolved “that the Board of Public Works be required to immediately prepare plans and specifications for a permanent building for all city offices and the Common Council, to be erected on the old Court House Square.”
Within a week from the fire, work was authorized to be commenced upon the building of a new City Hall, on what was called “the reservoir lot,” owned by the city, at the southeast corner of Adams and LaSalle streets. The structure covered the entire lot, being about one hundred and seventy-eight feet square, and was completed and occupied by January 1, 1872. It contained rooms sufficient for all the city offices, and also accommodations for the law library, the county recorder, and several of the courts. The city expended 75,000 in constructing and furnishing this edifice, which continued to be occupied by the officers of the city government until 1885. It was merely a pile of brick and mortar, almost wholly without conveniences, hastily thrown together in walls with openings for doors and windows. It was familiarly known as the “old Rookery.”
It was demolished to make way for Burnham & Root’s Rookery Building, which is still standing.
Court House Square
On January 1, 1873, the Free Library of the City of Chicago, located in the old Water Tank, was opened to the public for the first time. In May, 1875, the library was moved to the southwest corner of Lake and Dearborn streets, which it remained until the summer of 1886 where it found a new home in City Hall.
Chicago Public Library
The Land Owner