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Red Means Go: 1943

Red Means Go: 1943

April 1943. "Trucks unloading at the inbound freight house of the Illinois Central Railroad, South Water Street freight terminal, Chicago." 4x5 Kodachrome transparency by Jack Delano. View full size.


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Mandel Building

The dark brick building on the far right is the Hibbard, Spencer, Bartlett & Co. Warehouse Building, later known as the Mandel Building. It was designed by the famous Chicago architecture firm of Graham, Anderson, Probst and White and built in 1926, hard on the north bank of the Chicago River. Hibbard, Spencer, Bartlett was a wholesale hardware concern. In 1946 the building was sold to the Mandel Brothers Department Store. I remember it as the "temporary" home of the main branch of the Chicago Public Library from 1975 through the late 1980s, while the present Harold Washington Library was being debated, planned, and finally built. It was torn down in 1989, two years before the new library building was finished. For many years the Mandel Building was quite prominent in the Chicago cityscape, because it could be seen easily from North Michigan Avenue, where there was a largely empty space directly across from the Wrigley Building.

The red zone is for...

If that is in fact the Inbound Freight House, then it seems to me that those trucks should be loading, not unloading, since that facility would have handled arriving shipments, not departing. But, given the absence of any visible human activity; not a single truck tractor anywhere; the decrepit condition of the trailers and their ownership by a single carrier (Dixon)... I'm wondering if even as early as 1943 the volume of LCL freight moving by rail had dropped off to the point that the ICRR had consolidated its Inbound and Outbound LCL operations into one facility, and leased out the excess warehouse space to the Dixon truck line, and that most if not all of those ancient trailers were semi-retired to stationary service.

Single-axle trailers -

- look dinky and frail compared to what's on the road today.

Re: Building X

Answering my own question, it's the Music Corporation of America Building. At first I could not locate a picture. After deducing the location to be 430 North Michigan Avenue I ran across a description of it at -- "one of the narrowest skyscrapers in the country with a depth of only 25 feet from Michigan Avenue to its backside. The art deco design gave strong vertical emphasis to the center of the Michigan Avenue facade with continuous limestone piers rising to 3 projecting fins in front of a set-back upper floor."

It was replaced in 1963 by the Realtor Building. Later I found a picture of it in John W. Stamper's book "North Michigan Avenue."

If anyone is curious as to why I wanted to know this it is because I construct models of scenes from railroads of the past. My particular interest is the Illinois Central. I am identifying the buildings in Jack Delano's photographs and incorporating them into a model of the Chicago, Grant Park and the Streeterville buildings I can identify from the photos.

Building X

Does anyone know the name of the smaller gray building between the Wrigley and Tribune?

...and I quote:

Although color photography was around prior to 1903, the Lumière brothers, Auguste and Louis, patented the process in 1903 and developed the first color film in 1907.

Color photography?

I'm sure this has been posted before, but to anyone who doesn't think color photography existed before 1960:

Or how about WWI battle photographs:

(warning, last I checked there were a few graphic pictures in the WWI shots)

I'm amazed people think we had color movies in the 1930's (Gone with the Wind, Wizard of Oz) but no color photography in the 1940's.

["Journalist" was disputing the existence of color film, not color photography. - Dave]

Re: Obvious Photoshop

I'd be interested to know what kind of "journalist" thinks color film didn't exist in the 1940s. Hope you're not a photographer - you'd need to quit and go back to school. (This is, by the way, one of our most frequent uninformed comments.) - Dave


Obvious Photoshop. No color film in old days.

I.C. is no more

Actually the I.C. was bought by the Canadian National a few years back, so the land is owned by them I guess :)


What is the far center and the brick on the right?

air rights

This section of (once) empty land is owned by IL Central RR. At the beginning of the skyscraper boom, the land became extremely valuable. The RR held on to the land ownership but sold the rights above the land (air rights) to developers that would later build the now familiar skyline. The skycrapers now in this area are privately owned, but the land on which they sit is still owned by the RR.


You've got the location down. That's because the Illinois Center used to be the terminus of the Illinois Central. For years, it was a big empty lot (and it is still only now being developed) and it was referred to as the "Illinois Central Air Rights".

Wrigley Building on the left

Wrigley Building on the left and Tribune on the right. Intercontinental Hotel (which used to be Masonic Temple) behind the Trib.

Buildings ID'd

The Tribune Tower, Wrigley Building and Masonic temple (now the Intercontinental Hotal). I think the photo is taken from the location of the current Illinois Center.

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