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Second City: 1901

Circa 1901. "Masonic Temple, Chicago." 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.

Circa 1901. "Masonic Temple, Chicago." 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.


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Marshall Field

I also just realized that those girders at the lower right (the southeast corner of State and Randolph) must be one of the later additions to the Marshall Field Building, under construction. The present-day incarnation of Field's (er, Macy's) originally started in a smaller building a block south, at State and Washington, with three later additions eventually filling the entire block.

Joffrey Tower

Its present replacement ( is actually a big improvement over its previous replacement, a dingy, boxy Walgreens.

A technical question for the photographers

1) I am pretty ignorant of photography, and 2) I can't view a full-size Shorpy photograph in its entirety without scrolling around, but: As I scroll up to the top of the building, all the right angles suddenly seem to bend and go out of square so that the building appears to loom over the street, and the image, well in focus up to the level of the top-floor dormers, suddenly goes blurry. The effect looks like one of those artificial "tilt-shift" digital photographs one sometimes sees on the web.

Is it possible to explain to a noob like me what causes that visual effect, without a full course in optics?

"Give the lady what she wants."

The construction in the lower right is Marshall Field's (now Macy's) State Street store. The Walnut Room, the Tiffany mosaic ceiling, the iPod vending machine - you can shop there tomorrow if you're in the area.

C'est La Viavi!

I am pretty sure that there was one and only one thing called Viavi back in the day (or indeed any day) and that was the medicinal system of the Law brothers of San Francisco. They were heavily into advertising, and this is just the sort of thing they would have liked!

Thank you for the link, by the way.

Tallest in the World!

The Masonic Temple, topping out at 302 feet and 22 stories, was the tallest building in the world when it opened in 1892. Designed by Burnham & Root, it contained an interior atrium running up through the height of the building. It was demolished in 1939 to put up a 2-story "taxpayer" building (an early project of Chicago developer Arthur Rubloff). The 6-story building at the right (under the "Slack the Grocer" sign) is the Ryerson Building of Adler & Sullivan, built in 1884.

Thanks for this fantastic picture!

The ubiquitous awning

Is it time for a comeback of those ubiquitous awnings? I note that they are not on all windows nor uniform in style, leaving one to the conclusion that the tenants ordered and paid for these window accessories. They can't have been affordable or they'd dress every window. Yet they must have been a great relief in hot summer for folks who did have them. They'd be a great idea these days for saving on the cost of air conditioning. We don't really think about that hot sun streaming onto the carpet through low-e dualpane windows but in fact it's still heating the room. It's just that our air conditioners are battling it well. Awnings on windows could even be automated with light sensitive switches and the savings to a building's utility cost might be considerable.

Burnham and Root

Well known fact: The Masonic Temple was designed by Burnham and Root, whose other Chicago landmarks of the 1880s-90s included the Rookery, Monadnock Building, and the Reliance Building.

Little known fact: Burnham and Root founded early Ragtime pioneers the Masonic Temple Pilots, who had several #1 piano rolls until imploding in a series of high profile opium busts.

Last Week!

It could almost be "Last Year!" -- Jessie Bartlett Davis, "America's representative contralto," died in 1905.

[Expired due to leaden-PR poisoning, no doubt. "America's representative contralto" doesn't exactly, um, sing. - Dave]


"Expert sleuths for missing fruits."

Pauline and Viavi

From a bio of Pauline Hall, the marquee’s coming attraction:

“By 1880 she was working for E. E. Rice, who cast her in several of his musical productions, giving her, among others, the trouser role of the hero Gabriel in a revival that year of Evangeline. Her shapely figure allowed her to take men's parts, as she did most notably in the title role of Ixion (1885).”

I’d think a shapely figure would preclude success in men’s parts, but I’m not a theater expert. I do know I will use the phrase “Trouser role” as often as possible this week.

A 9th floor window has the name VIAVI - could it be this, a popular “medicine” intended to fix costive bowels and feminine disorders?

Don’t know how they tore those things down. The Temple looks like it could take on a glacier over a period of a thousand years, and win. Its replacement looks less substantial.

That Store Next Door

Been hearing bad things about them.

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