Monday, September 14, 2009

Motor Row Historic District

Motor Row Historic District ..
1444, 1454, 1737, 1925, 2000 S. Michigan Ave
2200-2500 blocks of S. Michigan Ave
2246-3453 S. Indiana Ave., ... and ..
2211-47 S. Wabash Ave

Year Built: 1905-1936
Architect: Various
Date Designated a Chicago Landmark : December 13, 2000 ..
It was added to the National Register of Historic Places on November 18, 2002 ..
The Motor Row District has 55 buildings that have been given the landmark status by the Commission on Chicago Landmarks ..

This group of commercial buildings on Chicago's Near South Side is considered to be the largest, intact early "automobile row" in any city in the country.

Auto rows developed in numerous cities shortly after 1900 as car companies sought to create districts where the sale and repair of cars could become an easy urban shopping experience. At its peak, as many as 116 different makes of automobiles were being sold on Motor Row. Some are familiar today, including Ford, Buick, Fiat, and Cadillac, while others are better known to historians and old-car buffs, including Hudson, Locomobile, Marmon, and Pierce-Arrow.

The range of buildings in Motor Row illustrates the evolution of the automobile showroom and related product and service buildings, from simple two-story structures used for display and offices to multi-story buildings housing a variety of departments for the repair, storage, painting, and finishing of automobiles.

Many of these buildings were designed by significant architects, including Holabird & Roche, Alfred Alschuler, Christian Eckstorm, Philip Maher, and Albert Kahn.

Ford Showroom ..
Address: 1444 S. Michigan Avenue ..
Completed: 1905 ..
This is the first Ford showroom outside of Detroit. It is said that when Henry Ford came here in 1905 to oversee the constuction of this showroom, be visited the nearby meat-processing plant from which he got the idea of auto assembly line ..

Maxwell-Briscoe Automobile Co. Building ..
Address: 1737 South Michigan Avenue ..
Completed: 1909
Architect: Ernest Walker ..
The building has been designated a Chicago Landmark in 2000 ..

From wikipedia:
"The Maxwell was a brand of automobiles manufactured in the United States of America from about 1904 to 1925. The present-day successor to the Maxwell company is Chrysler Group. The brand name of motor cars was started as the Maxwell-Briscoe Company of Tarrytown, New York."

B.F.Goodrich Co. Building ..
Address: 1925 South Michigan Avenue
Completed: 1911
Architect: Christian Eckstorm
This Second Empire style building is one of the most decorative buildings in the Motor Row Historic District..

Locomobile of America Co. showrooms ..
Now Locomobile Lofts ..
Address: 2000 South Michigan Avenue ..
Completed: 1909
Architects: Jenny, Mundie & Jensen ..
A three-story corner building .. of reinforced concrete trimmed in brick and terra cotta .. a quintessential early auto facility .. The building still displays the name of the company for which it was built and which occupied it till 1929 ..

Hudson Motor Showroom
Address: 2222-2228 South Michigan Avenue ..
Architect: Alfred Alschuler
H for Hudson medallions above the Palladian windows .. Other interesting features are the twisted columns and rope modelling ..

Marmon Co. Showroom ..
Address: 2232 South Michigan Avenue ..
Architect: Alfred Alschuler
Completed: 1922
This Spanish-revival style building still has the company name Marmon on its terra cotta facade .. It has been renovated and converted in Marmon Grand banquet ..
Trivia: One car in the Marmon line, the Wasp, is the legendary winner of the first Indianapolis 500-Mile Race, in 1911 ...

Ford Motor Showroom ..
Address: 2229 South Michigan Avenue ..
Open for lease .. for office space ..

There seems to be many Ford showrooms in this area .. I'll publish more images soon ..

Thomas Flyer Garage & Service Building ..
Address: 2255 South Michigan Avenue ..
Architects: 1910: Holabird & Roche
1916 addition: Alfred S. Alschuler ..
The top two stories have been added later. the base still shows a classic auto-sales facility.

Cadillac Showroom ..
Now Motor Row Lofts ..
Address: 2309-2315 South Michigan Avenue
Completed: 1915
Architect: Holabird & Roche
The 5-story white building was Cadillac showroom ..

The City of Chicago has placed a zoning overlay on all the properties located in the Motor Row District labeled as DX-5, which is described as a downtown mixed use district and is intended to accommodate, public, institutional, retail and residential uses ...

It's difficult to cover the Motor Row Historic District in one post, so I've split the coverage in many posts ..
# The cultural hallmarks in the Motor Row Historic District - II .. click here ..
# The logos, signposts & other surviving signs from the heydays, in the Motor Row Historic District - III .. click here ..
# Some showrooms [I could not identify] in the Motor Row Historic District - IV ... click here ..
# Loft condominium conversions in the Motor Row Historic District - V .. click here ..

Designated Chicago Landmarks .. within the Landmark Motor Row District ..
# Maxwell-Briscoe Automobile Co. Building .. click here ...
# Chess Records Office and Studio .. click here ..
# Quinn Chapel AME Church .. click here ..

For more on ..
# The Prairie Avenue Historic Distrct .. click here ..

I like to see places designated as Chicago Landmark, and I collect a lot of information from the markers at these sites. However, I noticed that as compared to other places, there is very little information available about this Landmark Motor Row District. There are hardly any commemorative plaques or brochures or pamphlets available .. I found some roadside markers, which are quite informative .. However they seem to emphasise the cultural institutions and be lacking on information on auto showrooms or dealers, for which this area gets it's name Motor Row .. The difference in information available is especially glaring, when compared to it's neighboring Landmark Prairie Avenue District on which there is a pleathora of information available in the form of plaques, markers, brochures and pamphlets ..

The marker reads ..
In the early 20th Century, South Michigan Avenue was the heart of splendor in regard to homes, wealth, worship, leisure and shopping. South of the Chicago Loop was the only place for the most wealthy, best educated and modern families, whose homes bounded Prairie Avenue, just east of Michigan Avenue ..
Continue reading .. click here ..

7 comments: said...

Another post with great scope, facts, and general info..... Thanks, Jyoti. You seem to have unlimited energy!

Jyoti said...

Thank You so much for your comment. I really appreciate your visiting and leaving a few words.

Anonymous said...

You say that there is very little information available on Motor Row District. Well you present one of the most informative posts on this district. You have incredible ability to organize materials and present them in a very orderly fashion.
Great job!

Anonymous said...

Great Job ! I live in the area & some of these buildings are destined to become high-end restaurants.

Graham Man said...

Bird-Sykes Co. Building (No.1)
2208-2216 S. Michigan Ave.
Built 1910
Architect Christian Eckstorm

From National Register of Historic Places - Motor Row

Home to Paige autos 1914?-1927 Graham-Paige Motors 1928 to 1941?

Great Post!!!

Brenda Nurnberger said...

The custodian from our church gave my husband a newspaper from the Chicago Sunday Tribune, dated Sept 16, 1923. I assume she found it somewhere at the church. It has an large ad from the Bird-Sykes Co 2215 Michigan Ave.

If you want this newspaper, I will be more than happy to send it to you. It's very britle and I taped some places together because I was going to laminate it, then decided it needed to go to it's home.

Jerome M. O'Connor said...

For BRENDA: I am writing a major feature about Motor Row and interested in the Tribune auto ad you referenced.Deadline Oct 15, 2012. Please contact me ASAP. or