Gardner Building, Chicago Evening Post Building, Chicago Chronicle Building (1895)
Life Span: 1873-1932 (Rebuilt 1891)
Location: 164-166 Washington (old), 173 W, Washington Street, Between La Salle and Wells Streets
Chicago Chronicle, December 23, 1895
The circulation of The Chronicle has passed the 100,000 mark.
On Sunday 202,457 copies of the paper were printed and the number of the papers sold was a little over 500 less.
Nearly ten tons of stereotyping metal were required to make the plates from which the Sunday edition of forty-four pages was printed, and forty tons of paper were consumed before the last paper came off the press.
The Chronicle’s record-breaking Sunday was attended by another record-breaking event. The third car load of used was brought from Buffalo attached to the Lake Shore limited train and the cargo of forty-eight rolls of paper made the fastest freight run in history of the railway service.
The paper passed through the presses Saturday night and Sunday morning had on the preceding Monday gone into the vats of a New Hampshire paper mill in the form of pulp.
It was not expected that a newspaper which will not be seven months old until Dec. 28 would require stock sufficient to print more than 100,000 copies on Dec. 22. So rapidly did the orders come in during the week, however, that extraordinary efforts had to be made to insure an adequate supply of paper.
Saturday morning, when the carload of paper reached Buffalo orders were given to detach it from the regular freight train so that the limited might haul it to Chicago. It was promised that the paper should be at The Chronicle building at 5 o’clock Saturday afternoon. At 5:15 o’clock the forty-eight rolls were being lowered into the pressroom and added to the one hundred and twenty rolls that had preceded them.
Sunday’s Big Circulation.
Herewith is given a detailed statement of the circulation for yesterda, and the various mediums through which it reached the public:
This Sunday edition of The Chronicle included forty-four pages, which were printed and folded into three parts, or “sheets.” The plates of the “first sheet,” as it is called in the mechanical departments, of the paper went on the presses at 5:20 o’clock Saturday afternoon, and that section of the paper was not “run off” until 8:10 o’clock. At 8:46 o’clock, the plates of the “second sheet” came from the stereotypers of the third floor, and at 11:30 o’clock they were lifted off, returned to the stereotypers to be melted, recast, and at 1:40 o’clock to be returned in the form of plates for the first twelve pages of The Chronicle.
Great Run of the Presses.
The Chronicle’s five presses have each a capacity of 10,000 sixteen-page papers an hour. When a 5:20 o’clock the great machines began to move a greater and more intricate machinery was set in motion simultaneously and the work of getting a newspaper out of the pressrooms and into the hands of the public began. Within two or three minutes after the last of the eighty plates to print pages twenty-nine to forty-four of The Sunday Chronicle had left the stereotyping-room it was on the press and the great machines were in motion. Each press carried sixteen plates, one for each page, and there being five presses five sets of plates were required. From one to two two minutes were required in getting a plate from the elevator to the press and this included half a minute required to cool the plate. With the cry, “Start ‘er,” there came a tremendous cracking and screeching of wheels, and a steady throbbing and pounding that continued uninterruptedly for three hours.
There is no place where order and discipline are maintained more strictly , despite the wild confusion of sights and sounds, than in the pressroom of a great newspaper. The most delicate and yet the most ponderous machinery has to be swiftly adjusted while it is in motion, for here seconds count as big as hours. The spectator who stands well at a distance from the roaring presses is apt to be confused and dazed by the sound, but the men in charge of them have frequently to insert their hands in the midst of the maze of wheels and levers to adjust some delicate bit of mechanism, on the proper operation of which depends the good appearance of the paper. Sometimes a finger or a hand is caught and even the unfortunate victim is likely to feel almost as deep regret over the loss of seconds entailed by the accident as he does for the missing number.
In the Pressroom.
On the judgement and promptness of the twenty-one men in The Chronicle pressroom depend the movements of a force of forty men on the next floor above. Each press has three men in constant attendance on it, the roll hand, the oiler and the packer hand. Three pressmen divide their time between the five machines, inspecting, adjusting and directing.
The pressroom of The Chronicle is a long low room, brilliantly lighted by a dozen arc lamps and literally walled in by paper. Rolls upon rolls of it are ranged along the walls and reaching nearly to the ceiling. In and out among the aisles of paper hurry the carriers, who receive the papers in stacks of hundreds from the men at the packers—long chutes into which the press feeds its product. The bundles are counted by the press, the edge of every twenty-fifth paper being slightly thrown upward as it passes into the packer. In the front of the center press is an endless chain elevator, carrying thirteen trays, on which the carriers load their papers in bundles of 100 each. As these pass up to the mailing-room they are whisked off the trays by men, who pile them anywhere and everywhere, on the floor, in corners, along the stairways and on the tables.
When the Hard Work Begins.
The receiving of the “first sheet,” or what is in reality the third part of the paper, causes no unique commotion in the mailing-room, but 9 o’clock, when the second sheet begins to come in, the hard work of the night is really begun. A force of forty “stuffers” invades the room and enters upon the apparently simple task of slipping part three between the folds of part two. When one realizes, however, what the task set for them includes the handling of over 200,000 separate pieces of paper it becomes a situation demanding the utmost speed and deftness of the hand. Not a little ingenuity is expended on this apparently unimportant detail of getting a completed newspaper into the hands of the reader. Some men never become good stuffers. Others learn the trick after a few nights’ practice, and if they become expert, can stuff 4,000 papers in an hour. The method of stuffing used in Chicago newspaper offices consists merely in allowing the edges of a bundle of papers to slip between the thumb and forefinger of the left hand, while with the right hand the sheets to be inserted are rapidly brushed between the open folds as they slip downward.
The papers being stuffed are tied and wrapped in bundles varying according to the figures marked on the newspapers. The tying and wrapping are, like stuffing, apparently simple, but requiring the greatest deftness and speed.
Stacked in a corner of mail sacks owned and loaned by the government, and of the same pattern as those used in the regular mail service. Rapidly as the “sheets” are stuffed, wrapped and tied they are loaded into the mail sacks, which are left open until the hour when an equal number of “news sheets” of the paper can be inserted.
The counting and folding in with the bundles of papers of the art souvenir is another of the tasks in the mailing-room force. Sunday’s picture was too large to be stuffed without injury, and so there was wrapped with each bundle of papers an equal number of pictures.
Long before the rush of papers begins the tagging and marking of wrappers and mail sacks has been finished, and despite the apparent confusion in the mailing-room everything is, in fact, arranged with elaborate system and precision so that not a second may be lost when the hour comes for catching the fast mail editions.
Routing the Country Editions.
The papers have to be “routed” in the office in the same manner as they would if sent through the postoffice, and it devolves upon the country circulator to direct the system by which this is done. The Chronicle’s country circulation is distributed over 130 different mail routes and the schedule of roads and trains by which papers shall go to their destination is the result of months of careful study. Sometimes a town may be reached by a dozen routes and the easiest and quickest must be selected. Frequently it requires hours of investigation to learn by what route a village, where perhaps only two or three papers will go, may be reached and recently it was four days before a hamlet in southern Illinois could be located at all.
In the Galley-Room.
The mailing list of The Courier contains the names of 2,300 out of town dealers, the route by which the papers are to be sent to each and the number of papers he has ordered. It is printed daily in a special printing office on the second floor of The Chronicle building, which is known as the galley-room. It is in itself a complete little job office, such as would delight the heart o the country editor, and is devoted exclusively to the printing of what is in many respects a newspaper’s most valuable possession.
At 1 o’clock wagons are backing into The Chronicle alley and the mail sacks, loaded, tagged and tied, are being carried out of the mail-room. There are twelve wagons, and they go only to the railway stations. On the wagon men rests the final responsibility of getting the paper to the reader on time. No excuse would be accepted were he to miss a train, and he takes good care that he reaches the station on time.
As the night advances the mailing-room is deluged with papers. They rise in tiers ten and fifteen feet high and fifty feet long. Corridors and stairways are banked with them, until walking on the floors becomes an impossibility, and the busy stuffers and wrappers jump from one pile to another as they drag the mail sacks toward the alley exit. Wagon after wagon is loaded, until the chief of the wagon men calls a halt for fear of breakdowns, moves out of the alley, but the presses are still turning out 50,000 an hour, and the forty mailers are up to their eyes in Chronicles. The joviality and good fellowship which characterized the force during the early part of the night have quite disappeared, and the men bend sternly to their work, oblivious even to the deafening roar of the presses. Perspiration streams from their faces and the light Jersey shirts they wear are wringing wet. They count themselves fortunate if they have an opportunity to seize a handful of food from the open lunch basket near by and swallow a cup of coffee.
Then Comes the City Edition.
Not half their work, though the hardest of it, is done when the last insatiable mail wagon has rumbled down the dark alley. There are thirty-five city wagons to be served when the second edition is at hand. These wagons are run exclusively as Chronicle wagons by the wholesale news-dealers. The city wagon business begins at 3 o’clock, after the first mail is off, and at 4:30 every driver has gone his way to make room for the newsboys, some 400 of them, who come in to buy their supplies, and keep coming and returning until 7:30 o’clock, when the long night in the mailing-room is over. Saturday night and Sunday morning chanced to be fair and dry. Had there been snow or rain the complications would have been immensely increased, merely from the fact that the wagons could not have made as good time, and this break in the system would have necessitated extra speed everywhere.
Robinson Fire Map
Rand, McNally & Co.’s Bird’s-Eye Views and Guide to Chicago, 1893
④ The Evening Post Building.
164-166 Washington Street, next east of the Teutonic, was erected in 1872, but was rebuilt in 1891. It is 40 feet wide, 181 feet deep, and 65 feet high, in 5 stories and basement; cut-stone front. Beside furnishing a home to the Evening Post, the building has 35 offices and 2 passenger elevators. The latter are approached from a handsome counting-room, making an attractive interior scene.
Chicago Chronicle building
Sanborn Fire Map