press release iconHistory

MACY’S STATE STREET HISTORY

July 17, 2015

Generations of Chicagoans and visitors have shopped and dined their way through nine-floors of retail space for over 100 years in the Marshall Field’s building located in the heart of The Loop. Macy’s on State Street is recognized as a National Historic Landmark and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

History and Architecture

  • The retail destination, originally Marshall Fields and Co., has been located on State Street since 1868 and rebuilt after devastating fires in 1871 and 1877.
  • Today’s building is one of the largest department stores in the world consisting of over 2 million square feet.
  • Macy’s on State Street was designed by world-renowned Chicago-based architect Daniel Burnham. The store as we know it today was constructed between 1892 and 1914 in six different vertical sections.
  • Exterior staples include the Great Granite Pillars that were installed in 1902. Only the pillars at the Temple of Karnak in Egypt are taller.
  • Macy’s on State Street is known for the Great Clocks designed by Pierce Anderson of the D.H. Burnham architecture firm and completed in 1907. These massive timepieces weigh more than seven tons.

 Building Highlights

  • North Light Well
    • The Beaux-Arts and Art Nouveau style atrium located on the Northwest side of the building was completed in 1902 and is considered one of the largest open spaces of its kind in the world at 14 stories high and 40 feet wide.
  • Atrium/Burnham Fountain
    • The historic Burnham Fountain was designed by Daniel Burnham is made of 6 tons of cast iron and holds 700 gallons of water.
    • The fountain is often called the “Lost Fountain” because it was originally part of the 1892 construction plan. Marshall Field felt it didn’t belong so it wasn’t built. Plans for the fountain were uncovered during the building’s restoration and it was built and installed from 1987-1992.
  • Tiffany Vaulted Ceiling
    • It is the world’s largest Tiffany favrile glass vaulted ceiling in the world, covering 6,000 square feet and contains 1.6 million pieces of glass.
    • Louis Comfort Tiffany designed and personally supervised the ceiling’s installation. It took over 50 artisans on scaffolds over 1.5 years to complete and cost approx. $250,000 in 1907 when it was unveiled.
  • The Walnut Room
    • Is considered the very first restaurant in a department store opening in the 1880s as the South Tea Room and named the Walnut Room in 1907.
    • The restaurant adorned with Circassian wood originally imported from Russia and Austrian chandeliers has become a tradition of dining, especially around the holidays for generations of families.

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