On the border of Orleans, Wells and Kinzie Streets, the massive structure had its own zip code until 2008, when it spanned the surrounding area. In its first few years wholesale goods businesses occupied the space as well as interior design vendors and other trades. Other businesses have called Merchandise Mart home including the Shops at the Mart, the Illinois Institute of Art and the the Chicago Sun-Times.
Through the vision of Marshall Field and the architectural firm, Graham, Anderson, Probst and White, the “city with a city” became the main focus throughout the construction process that started before the Great Depression in 1928 upon completion in 1931. This building was revolutionary in that the machine age was upon them through the use of transfer elevators, conveyor belts, boats and railroad.
Designer Alfred Shaw completed the ornate features of the building in an art deco style that shows in the windows, corners and edges of the structure that reduces and disguises the bulkiness of the raw materials. With majestic terrazzo floors and marble piers as well as embossed bronze trim used in the storefronts, the businesses inside were allowed to personalize their individual space.
Although slightly expanded and renovated over the years, this striking work of architecture still stands as the thirty-sixth largest building in the world. Over 20,000 visitors a day walk the enormous corridors, view the showrooms, attend trade fairs and grab lunch at the food court.
Now owned by Vornado Realty Trust, this gem of the city is known worldwide and is treasured by the city of Chicago.
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