1898—Success Magazine Marshal Field Interview
Marshall Field & Company Centennial
Marshall Field Warehouse
Marshall Field & Co. State Street Store
Marshall Field Garden Apartment Homes
Fashions of the Hour
Marshall Field Garden Apartments, Old Town Gardens
Life Span: 1929-Present
Location: 1500 Block N. Sedgwick
Architect: Graham, Anderson, Probst, White
Dubin, & Moutoussamy (1993 renovation)
When completed in 1929, the Marshall Field Garden Apartments were the largest middle-income housing development in the country, with a total of 628 units in ten buildings spread over two city blocks with large interior communal courtyards and street side retail stores. Modeled after the New York City Dunbar Apartments built by John D. Rockefeller, Jr., in 1926, these apartments were one of the nation’s earliest attempts at privately financed affordable housing.
Chicago Tribune, May 31, 1929
Chicago Tribune, November 10, 1929
A possible factor in the location of the Marshall Field Garden apartments was disclosed by Dr. Norman B. Barr, superintendent of Olivet institute, north side settlement house, at a
luncheon given Monday noon by Mid-town North Business association. The Field project is across the street from Olivet institute.
The explanation was given by Dr. Barr, who was chief speaker, when be spoke on “What Builds a Community?” Dr. Barr said:
- One of our officers brought a friend down to visit our institution, and the friend turned out to be Mr. Marshall Field, who had been a former partner of this man. During the conversation mention was made that due a good deal to the active interest of local community leaders the district around Olivet Institute had been zoned against factories that were creeping eastward from Goose Island, consequently protecting the district for residential purposes.
In that way Mr. Field’s attention was attracted to the community. I believe that little talk we had with Mr. Field had much to do with the Field apartments being located where they are today, At least purchase of the two square blocks of land commenced shortly afterwards.
In his talk Dr. Barr contended that what a man does for his community comes back to him eventually in various ways. He believes that if a man serves his neighbors effectively what he wants out of life comes back to him as a by-product, and that no man ever loses who serves others,
Marshall Field Garden Apartments Brochure, 1928-1929
THROUGH THIS NON-PROFIT PROJECT OF THE ESTATE OF MARSHALL FIELD
For the first time in Chicago non-profit apartment buildings are being erected, and on a scale sufficiently large to permit high grade construction costs lower than any known heretofore.
The result is an opportunity for 628 families to secure, at an average cost of only $15.00 per room, per month, an apartment that, for size of rooms, for convenience of layout, for modern appointments, and for accessibility to transportation, to parks and to the Loop. is the equal of apartments renting as high as $25.00 to $30.00 per room in other sections of the city. Every apartment has outside light and air, and fronts either on a street or a spacious garden court.
The motive of the Estate of Marshall Field in planning and building and renting these great apartment buildings is directly in line with the policy of the Trustees to keep a substantial portion of their capital invested in well interest return of 5%. There is no profit—no charge for financing—no mortgages to pay—no padding. Thus great economy is possible, and cannot approach the low rentals here offered.
Location Selected With Co-operation of the University of Chicago
Preliminary to the construction of these buildings, which are called the Marshall Field Garden Apartment Homes, the cooperation of the University of Chicago Social Research Department was secured to determine the most advantageous location for such a project. After a careful study of various sections of the city, a site was chosen covering two square blocks between Blackhawk and Sigel Streets and Hudson Avenue and Sedgwick Street, on the near north side.
Near to Loop, Parks, Bathing Beaches, Schools and Churches
Many things combine to make this an advantageous location: it is six minutes from downtown by elevated, it is within ½ block of two elevated stations; the Sedgwick Street car line is on one frontage of the property Lincoln Park with its bathing beaches and other recreational facilities is only five blocks away; Parochial schools, the Lane Technical High School, and churches of all denominations are within from one to five blocks.
Not alone because of its present advantages was this location chosen. The northward growth of the downtown district will, in the not distant future, cause most of the older developments between the Chicago River and Lincoln Park to give way to new and modern buildings. Already many fine apartments are being built within a few blocks of this site, and in the near future this section in the opinion of those who are familiar with the present trend, will enjoy even greater desirability as a place to live.
Future Co-operative Plan
This was an important factor in selecting the location for the original plan was to sell, rather than to rent, the apartments at cost. The lack of adequate legislation to permit the operation of so large a project on a cooperative basis has made it impossible to employ a selling plan at present time, but, as soon as the efforts of those interested in modern housing are successful in procuring legislation that will make large cooperative enterprises possible, each tenant will be given an immediate opportunity to own his own apartment on small monthly payments.
The original plan to sell was likewise responsible for making every apartment finer than is customary in buildings put up to rent. In the general layout of the buildings, which are designed to give every foot of space has been planned for maximum comfort and usability.
Photographic reproductions taken from the models of the buildings.
The rooms are spacious, the average living room being 17 x 13, the dining rooms 12 x 15, the bed rooms 11 x 13 and the kitchens 8 x 10. The buildings are fireproof, with concrete base soundproofed floors.
The kitchens have the very latest equipment, including cabinets, gas ranges, mechanical refrigeration, combination sinks and wash tubs, and dumb waiters for service deliveries. The modern basement laundry rooms are supplied with modern wash tubs, gas stoves and dryers, and electrical connections for washing machines.
Every apartment has a full size bathroom equipped with built-in tub, medicine chest, and up-to-date fixtures, for which no rent is charged. Those apartments designated at 3½ rooms and 4½ rooms have half-size dining alcoves instead of full dining rooms, and these are charged for in the rental scale at one-half the monthly rate of full rooms.
Photographic reproductions taken from the models of the buildings.
Range of Prices
The average monthly rent per room, based on a carefully prepared estimate of operating expenses and a 5% return on the actual cost of the development, is $15.00. Apartments may vary in desirability, however, so that the actual range of rents will run from $13.00 to $16.50 per room per month. It will be possible, therefore, to obtain 3½ room apartments at $55.00 per month; 4 room apartments from $52.00 to $66.00; 4½ room apartments at $72.00; 5 room apartments from $70.00 to $82.50; and 6 room apartments from $81.00 to $97.50.
Equally important with the economy, the efficiency and the spaciousness of these apartments, is the large and beautifully landscaped park enclosed by the buildings. In area it is larger than the average city block. Its lawns and trees and shrubbery will provide such natural surroundings as are obtainable elsewhere only in the suburbs. Yet here they require no sacrifice of the conveniences of a home near to the business districts.
The Garden Court
This park includes a playground for children, and opening on this area is an indoor playroom for use in bad weather. These facilities will be in charge of an attendant, with a completely equipped first-aid room close at hand. A rest room for mothers and small children is also provided as an adjunct to the playgrounds.
Photographic reproductions taken from the models of the buildings.
A garage has been erected on Sedgwick Street, east of the apartment buildings, extending through to Orleans Street, and providing accommodations for a approximately 350 cars. Residents of the Marshall Field Garden Apartment Homes may store their cars here at rates as low as the cost of operation will permit.
Central Heating Plant and Garage
The heating plant for all the apartments adjoins this garage building. Uniform heat is assured to all apartments, and the location of the heating plant, over one-half block away from the nearest apartment, together with the use of the latest engineering methods in heating, guarantees a complete absence of smoke and dirt from this source.
It is certain there will be in the Marshall Field Garden Apartment Homes a community spirit seldom found in a big city. This will be fostered by the unusual facilities for getting acquainted and for mutual enjoyment of the many features of interest maintained in the buildings.
There will be a large auditorium for meetings and entertainments, with a well-arranged kitchen adjoining. A music room with a piano will be supplied for the use of those children who wish to take piano lessons and it is hoped in time to install a library for the use of the tenants. Glass-enclosed sun-porches are at the top of each building for the use of the occupants.
One important factor that will make residence here desirable is the care with which applications for tenancy will be investigated. While there will be no religious or class restrictions, the character of each applicant will be established before acceptance. Thus each resident will be assured of the desirability of his neighbors and of the wholesomeness of the environment. In time it is hoped that an advisory board of tenants can be formed to cooperate with the management in the furthering of plans that affect the common welfare.
A voluntary Association will be formed among the residents of the Marshall Field Garden Apartment Homes for the purpose of securing life insurance benefits, the premiums on the policies to be paid entirely by the Marshall Field Garden Apartment Homes.
This insurance will be under an Association group plan whereunder tenants between the age of 21 and 60, inclusive, who are acceptable to the insurance company and to the Marshall Field Garden Apartment Homes will be eligible for membership.
Every member will be insured in the sum of $1,000, payable in the event of death from any cause, and, in the case of total and permanent disability caused by injury or sickness before the age of 60, the insurance will become payable in the same manner as in the case of death—in lump some or in monthly payments. The proceeds of the policies will be payable to the Marshall Field Garden Apartment Homes to be applied in such manner as may serve the best interests of the tenants.
The first unit of the Marshall Field Garden Apartment Homes will be completed by January 1st, 1929, four additional units will be ready for occupancy on February 15, 1929; and the remaining five units will be finished not later than April 1, 1929.
Models of the buildings are now on display in the lobbies of the Pittsfield and Conway Buildings.
Applications should be made to the Renting Office.
- Marshall Feld Garden Apartment Homes.
1452 Hudson Avenue.
The Trustees of the Estate of Marshall Field have given these instructions to the manager of the Marshall Field Garden Apartment Homes:
- The control of this work is in your hands, and no appeal of any kind is to be made to the Trustees, unless absolutely necessary.
No discrimination is to be made as to religion.
Men who have worked on the buildings and have done their best are to have preference.
Only persons with moderate incomes are to be considered, as the buildings have been erected to help those actually needing low rents.
The usual rule with many landlords excluding families with children is to be reversed by giving preferences to families with children.
References of every tenant are to be investigated to insure the exclusion of persons found to be immoral or otherwise undesirable.
How To Get There
To visit the Marshall Field Garden Apartment Homes take the Ravenswood Elevated to Schiller Street station and walk one-half block west; or to Sedgwick Street station and walk one-half block south; or take the surface line which runs north and south on Sedgwick Street.
Chicago Tribune, May 31, 1929
Chicago Tribune, December 29, 1963
An increasing number of near north side apartment developments are being rented to all qualified applicants regardless of race, creed, color, or national ancestry.
The advances in equal opportunity in housing were reported in a recent study by the Chicago Commission on Human Relations.
Hal Freeman, the commissioner’s coordinator of housing and community services, said several major housing developments adopted a nondiscriminatory policy even before passage of the fair housing ordinance, which prohibits racial or religious discrimination by real estate brokers.
Other Open Buildings.
Near north apartments now renting to all qualified applicants include Marina City, 30 N. State st.; Carl Sandburg Village, 1455 Sandburg av.; Outer Drive East, Randolph street and the lake; DeWitt-Chestnut apartments, DeWill place and Chestnut street; and a number of apartments on Lincoln avenue, North La Salle street, and east Oak street.
Old Town Gardens apartments is unique in that it is the only property of its size and age to institute an active program of integration in the area. The 10 buildings of the complex were erected in 1928 by Marshall Field III as one of the first privately developed slum clearance projects in the country.
The block-long five-story development contains 628 units, and is owned by Hanover Equities corporation of Bayside, N.Y.
Early this year the Ames company, property managers for Old Town Gardens, began conferring with the commission, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and the Congress on Racial Equality on ways to integrate in an orderly way.
The Negro organizations and the commission are cooperating inn finding new tenants for Old Town Gardens.
Sam Lane, president of the Ames company, said the enthusiastic response by prospective tenants is evidence of the “pressing need for integrated housing in this city.”
No Economic Pressure.
“We took over the building about a year ago with plans to integrate,” Lane said. “There was no economic reason for the decision, since we have no rental problem. We just felt it was right thing to do.”
Lane said there has been surprisingly little opposition, and most tenants of the building are in favor of the decision. “I’ve had favorable comment from tenants who have lived here 30 years,” he said. No formal opposition from the outside has developed, he added.
Negro’s Reception Good.
Granville Reed III, a program assistant with the N. A. A. C. P., moved into the development in September. The 10 or 12 Negro families who have already moved in have been well received, he said.
“My wife and I have not been patronized, but accepted as people,” Reed said. “There are very good possibilities that this experiment will be a success.”
Seymour Berman sand his family have lived in Old Town Gardens for 14 years. He said most of the white tenants seem favorable toward the integration of the building. “I’ve heard of some who will move out when their leases run out, but on the whole the response has been excellent,” he said.
Chicago Tribune, November 12, 1995
A middle-aged woman enters a glass booth, steps on a yellow pad and carefully places her feet, looking down and adjucting them as if she were a golfer about to putt.
She punches a number into a key pad and then places her hand inside a metal box with an open end, arranging her fingers around a group of poles. She waits for a second, then pushes a door opposite the one she came in through and enters her apartment complex.
Her name, apartment number, the time of her entrance and whether she is going in or out haqs been stored on computer.
The woman is a resident of the Marshall Field Garden Apartments, a 628-unit subsidized housing complex on the Near North Side that has a high-tech high-surveillance security system unlike any found in housing elsewhere in the industry.
Some residents love it and some hate it, and it has sparked a complaint of racial bias to the city Commission on Human Relations and management alike agree on one thing. It has brought radical change.
The 6-acre, 10-building mid-rise complex bounded by Hudson and Evergreen Avenues and Blackhawk and Sedgwick Streets, was built in 1929 by Marshall Field III as a philanthropic endeavor to replace slum housing in the area.
But the complex itself became one of Chicago’s worst slums after it was foreclosed on in 1984 by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, whose failures of property management have been widely documented.
It was a half-empty haven for gangs, drug activity and prostitution, known to some neighbors as “Little Vietnam” for the gunfire echoing through it at night. An owner of subsidized housing nearby called it the single worst complex in the city outside of Cabrini-Green.
In 1992 HUD, guaranteeing annual rent subsidies of more than $6.4 million a year, has sold it to a group of investors headed by Sheldon Baskin and Daniel Epstein, who put in more than $20 million in renovations.
The new owners, who manage the building under the name Metroplex, Inc., quickly recognized they had a major security problem.
“There was a lot of violence,” said Baskin. “There were 80 felony arrests in the first 12-to-15 months and we had two drug dealers shooting at each other in a turf war. It was very, very rough.”
Lisa Martinez, a tenant at the Marshall Field Garden Apartments, uses the high-tech Inter-Guard Passage Control System that allows access only through hand scans.
Baskin said there were 34 separate entrances to the complex and no locks. They put locks on all the gates and doors, and they lasted two days. Then they put in unbreakable locks, which lasted two weeks. An intercom-and-buzzer system was rendered inoperable because people put gum in the locks and smashed the phones.
That’s when they developed the system they have now, Baskin said.
Kenneth Barnes, an architect specializing in multi-family property rehab, and who is in charge of the renovation of the complex, investigated a range of security technologies to come up with the system.
Ultimately, he adapted a system being used at government installations, combining a hand geometry recognition system and portal access control. All the entrances were closed off but two, where the new system was put in use.
Hand geometry recognition is based on the fact that each person’s hand has unique characteristics that can confirm the person’s identity when read by a scanning unit. Unlike keys or cards, hands can’t be lost, stolen or duplicated.
The portals are aluminum-framed glass booths with two doors that can’t be unlocked at the same time except in emergencies. The door locks behind the user, who steps on a pad that ensures there’s only one person in booth. The user goes through the hand recognition process, and then the other door opens.
The portal system prevents “tailgating,” where a bunch of people can push through behind an authorized person entering the complex. The doors can’t be propped open, because when one is open, the other stays locked.
A computer system records the identity of the user and whether entrance or exit actually occurred. If the user is not enrolled in the system as a resident or guest and no pass-through occurs, that is recorded also.
The database includes all enrolled users’ hand geometry, and will automatically adjust if their hands are growing or otherwise changing as time goes by.
There is a bypass lane with a single door for use by smaller children, parents carrying kids or pushing strollers or people in wheelchairs. That lane, which also requires the hand-check, is controlled by guards and monitored by television cameras as well.
To the building management, the $150,000 system is well worth it.
“From a security standpoint, I would sincerely say the well-being of the tenants is much greater,” said Pat Howard, the assistant manager of the complex, who lived in the South Side’s Robert Taylor Homes public housing complex when she was a teenager.
“Whe you think of public housing or other 100 percent subsidized housing, this is utopia or paradise,” she said. “There is no comparison with security.”
And many residents applaud it as well.
“It’s much better,” said Joyce Colston, a resident for 10 years who lives with her two children. “Before I didn’t feel safe in my apartment. I was broken into two times. Now I don’t worry. And (criminals) can’t come in the building and hide now.”
Colston said her increased sense of safety outweighs any feeling the system might be too intrusive. “It’s only an irritation when I leave a little late and I’m running for the bus and I have to put my hand through,” she said. “It slows me down.”
Another resident, Arlean Woods, who has lived there for about 13 years, was more critical. “Sometimes it’s not working and there’s lines of people,” she said. “It’s supposed to keep out people that don’t live here, but it doesn’t. And it looks into a lot of people’s private business.”
But Woods also said that apartment break-ins had lessened.
Actively opposed to the system is Glennis Willis, a resident for about 25 years and former tenant association president who has filed a complaint with the Chicago Commission on Human Relations that Metroplex racially discriminates because it uses the system at the almost all-black complex but not in other Metroplex properties where white tenants live.
“I basically think it belongs in the Pentagon or something like that. I don’t believe it belongs in a housing complex,” said Willis. “I refuse to invite people to my house, having to go through that. It belongs in a prison.”
The complaint was filed last March with the help of the Leadership Council on Metropolitan Open Communities, one of the country’s most renowned fair housing groups. The commission is expected to decide soon whether to hold a hearing on the matter.
Baskin responded that the system isn’t being used anywhere else in the country for black or white residents, and was installed because other security methods didn’t work.
“I think the complaint is totally off the wall and I blame the Leadership Council for lending (the complaint) its prestige and efforts,” Baskin.
Metroplex doesn’t rely only on the system to manage security. It subjects applicants to rigorous screening. They are checked for criminal background, credit and current living conditions, including an inspection visit by off-duty police. Nine of ten applicants are rejected.
Some eight or nine residents are evicted annually, mostly for non-payment of rent, which averages about $22 a month after the subsidies. There were 73 arrests and 119 domestic disturbance calls from January through August in the complex, which houses more than 1,900 people–about 1,260 of them children.
Howard pointed out that there were only 82 work orders for tenant-caused damage in the same January-August period, which she said was very good for low-income housing.
Meanwhile, Barnes has formed Integrated Access Systems to market the security system to other owners of low-income property. He said he’s close to making some sales, but noted that owners of such property with lots of security problems tend not to have much spare change.
But he said the time may come when high-control access systems may be wanted at properties that aren’t mostly low-income.