Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Time Regained: The Chicago Inter Ocean Building

There weren't as many postcard vendors as in the past at last week's Printer's Row Book Fair, but I was still able to pick up several interesting views into Chicago's architectural past, including this one of the Chicago Inter Ocean's building, completed 1900, W. Carbys Zimmerman architect, which stood on Monroe Street across from what is now the hanging gardens of Chase Plaza.

Now forgotten, it was one of Chicago's major daily newspapers, beginning its life in 1865 as the Chicago Republican, and renamed the Inter Ocean in 1871, perhaps symbolic of the city's emerging global prominence. It was said to have started going downhill after being acquired by transit mogul Charles T. Yerkes, builder of the Loop "L", who used the paper as a mouthpiece in his battles against reformers' threats to the lucrative traction franchises that he had secured through wide-scale bribery.

The Inter Ocean's previous building, at the southeast corner of Dearborn and Madison, was replaced in 1902 by the 17 story Chicago Tribune Building by architects Holabird and Roche, a palatial headquarters that went into a long decline after the Trib moved to its present gothic skyscraper on North Michigan avenue. It was demolished in 2003 to make way for DeStefano+Partners distinctive One South Dearborn.

Yerkes died in 1905; the Inter Ocean in 1914. If you're old enough to remember the Monroe Theater - that was the Inter Ocean. It was retrofitted into a movie theater in 1920, and by the 1950's was a grind house showing such classics as Cannibal Girls and Raw Meat. It ended its days as a soft porn house, before being demolished to make way for Helmut Jahn's 1980 Xerox Centre.

And in our own increasingly globalized world, wouldn't the Inter Ocean be a great name for a internationally-focused web-based newspaper, taking up the slack from all the international coverage that Sam Zell is reportedly killing off at the once great Tribune Company newspapers he now controls?


Norma said...

My great-grandfather subscribed to the Inter-Ocean--his daughter had many clippings in her scrap books.

Gerri Henneinke Habitz said...

Col. John H. Pierce (1848-1871) worked on the staff of the Chicago Inter-Ocean. My history tells me he represented them at the railway exposition at the Santa Fe Tertio Millennial and New Orleans Exposition. He was secretary of the Press Association at the exposition. The Col is one of my ancestors on my mother's side. He resided in Oak Park, Illinois at the time.

Unknown said...

My great grandmother, Jennie E. Riley-Miller occassionally wrote for the Inter Ocean. I don't know how often or exactly when. I'm guessing the articles would be in the mid to late 1800's. She lived in Valentine, NE and would submit articles with a theme of life on the prarie. I've never seen any of her articles. Still searching for one.

The Epistolary Dilettante said...

My great-great-grandfather C.C.Wm. Meyer owned the Rathskeller, a German restaurant, in the basement of the Inter-Ocean building.

Andrew Call said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Andrew Call said...

My Great-great-great-grandfather Jacob Bunn was one of the co-founders, and later the owner, of this great Chicago newspaper when it was called the Chicago Republican. He owned it for some time, before it was sold to Jonathan Young Scammon. It was once the largest newspaper company in Chicago. It had an annual circulation of approximately 11 million by 1877. If anyone has stories about this great paper, I would love to hear them!
--Andrew Taylor Call