Saturday, March 5, 2016

Montgomery Ward Buildings

Chicalogy, 1910
When the Mountgomery Ward Tower was completed in 1899 on the northwest corner of Madison and Michigan, it was the tallest building in Chicago at 394 feet. The 22.5-foot weather vane set on top of an open-air observatory. Currently the building is 282 feet tall because the pyramid top and sculpture have been removed. The building to the north of the tower was their Mail Order Establishment building that had been built in 1892. I'm surprised that they would build a shipping operation away from railroads in the 1800s. (Chicalogy)

I include a picture of Mail Ordeer building (below) because it is interesting to see the types of vehicles being pulled by horses. And this is the first time I have seen a picture of cable cars. Electric technology was still being developed in 1892 to make streetcars feasible.

It remained the tallest building until 1922 when the Wrigley Building was built at 398 feet. (Chicagology2)

Chicalogy, 1892
Bird's Eye Veiw
Montgomery Ward rather quickly outgrew their Michigan Avenue buildings and built a new complex along the North Branch of the Chicago Rivedr north of Chicago Avenue. It began in 1908 with a 400,000 sq. ft. Administration Building and a 2.2 million sq. ft. Catalog House. When built, it was the world's largest reinforced-concrete building, and each floor covers six acres with ceiling heights between 12 and 17 feet. Using reinforced-concrete is nothing special now, but in the early 20th century it was still a relatively pioneering form of construction.

In 1929 a four-story tower was added to the admin building and the 22.5 foot bronze Spirit of Progress statue was moved from the Michigan Avenue building to top off the new tower. A new 28-story administration building was finished in 1972. It was designed by Minoru Yamasaki, who also designed the World Trade Center in New York.

The complex was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1978. Montgomery Ward went bankrupt in 2001. The Catalog House has now been redeveloped as a mix-use building. The city contributed $28 million, most of which was used to build the river walk. 100,000 sq. ft. of the building exploits the riverfront as retail space. The 28-story admin building is now The Montgomery.

Kenneth Swedroe posted
I doubt if those ships are unloading products, but the Catalog House had a ground-floor shipping platform that could accommodate 24 railroad freight cars.


Kenneth Swedroe the world's largest mail ordering operation.
Kristin Robison posted
600 W Chicago, the old Montgomery Ward building
David M Laz posted
That long building along the river? The old Montgomery Ward's warehouse!
Glen Miller posted
Special agent making his rounds at night at the South Water Street freight terminal of the Illinois Central Railroad, Chicago (1943) LOC
I have to take a walk along Michigan. The building in the middle looks like the MW Tower, but the details are wrong. I think we are seeing the Mather Tower behind a building on Michigan.]

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