A Windy City Giant
It’s impossible to talk about a trip to Chicago and not talk about the architecture there. But while some, like the Willis Tower and the John Hancock building, get all the glory, others are just as interesting but somewhat overlooked. Take, for instance, the Chicago Tribune Tower.
It is a neo-Gothic skyscraper, magnificent in its ornate design. It stands out among all the chrome and glass modern buildings like a palace of American media. And perhaps it should, because the Chicago Tribune has been delivering news to the Windy City since 1847!
Its original building was erected in 1868 but was destroyed in the Great Chicago Fire just three years later. In 1922, for their 75th anniversary, the Tribune held a competition for the design of a new headquarters building. New York architects Raymond Hood and John Meade Howells submitted the winning design. To commemorate them, the building includes carved images of Robin Hood (for Hood) and a howling dog (for Howells)near the main entrance.
The building opened in 1925, but it’s story doesn’t begin there.
It’s All in the Details
Prior to the building of the Tribune Tower, correspondents for the Chicago Tribune brought back rocks and bricks from a variety of historically important sites throughout the world. They did this at the request of the Tribune’s owner and publisher, Colonel Robert R. McCormick. And they did so exceedingly well! That “rock collection” was incorporated into the walls of the new building. If you give the building more than a passing glance, you will see stones from some formidable sites. For instance, Westminster Abbey:
As well as the Alamo, Comiskey Park, and Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim, Norway.
How about the Great Wall of China and the Taj Mahal, plus Luther’s Wartburg castle in Eisenach, Germany?
Other stones included in the wall include pieces of the St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna, the Vatican’s Clementine Hall, the Parthenon of Greece, Hagia Sophia, Corregidor Island, Palace of Westminster, petrified wood from the Redwood National and State Parks, the Great Pyramid, Notre Dame de Paris, Abraham Lincoln’s Tomb, Independence Hall, Fort Santiago, Angkor Wat, the Berlin Wall, Harvard University, Edinburgh Castle, Ta Prohm, Wawel Castle (given a special spot of honor near the main entrance as a tribute to Chicago’s large Polish population), Banteay Srei, and even Rouen Cathedral’s Butter Tower, which inspired the Gothic design of the building.
But the fragments named above are just a few of them. The building includes a mind-boggling total of 149 pieces of historical landmarks! In more recent years, a piece of steel recovered from the World Trade Center in New York City has been added to the wall.
Spend some time looking around this magnificent building and see how many fragments of other structures you can spot… or just enjoy the Gothic revival architecture. You’ll be glad you did, because it’s one of those places where the more you look, the more you will find to fascinate and intrigue you.
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