My Magnificent Mile – Personal Reflections & Short History – North Michigan Avenue

This blog is about my family’s personal connection to North Michigan Avenue (from the Chicago River north), also known as the Magnificent Mile, as well as an homage to a few iconic buildings and businesses that no longer exist. The stretch of North Michigan called the Mag Mile, for short, figured into my family’s life from the day I was born. While my dad first started his private psychiatric practice in a bathroom-sized space at 25 E. Washington (Field’s annex facing an alley) in October 1952 for $93 a month, that was his only office location not on the Mag Mile.



The Sterling Building (also called Michigan-Superior)

Shortly after returning from serving in the U. S. Navy in Bainbridge, Maryland in 1958, my dad’s first office on the Mag Mile was at 737 N. Michigan (Sterling Building). Once I was old enough, I would shop at the Walgreens next door before going up to his office. In 1970, my dad was forced to vacate when Neiman Marcus decided to build on that site. Ironically, the deal fell through and a parking lot occupied this site for more than a decade. It took 14 years before Neiman Marcus opened its flagship Chicago store here in 1984.

Designed by architect Andrew Rebori and completed in 1929, the Sterling Building was commissioned by the family that owned the Fine Arts Building. The gorgeous 5-story Art Deco building had an intriguing observatory on top. The building was originally designed to include artists’ studios, but even in the 1920s, artists couldn’t afford those rents. 


777 N. Michigan Ave, 1982


The Farwell Building – 664 N. Michigan

My dad’s next office was the 11-story historic Art Deco/Classical Revival Farwell Building designed and constructed in 1927 by architect Philip B. Maher. Arthur Farwell owned several other North Michigan Avenue properties and bought this one in 1912. He was the son of entrepreneur John V. Farwell, the owner of a wholesale dry good store purchased by Carson-Pirie Scott in 1925.


Dismantling 664 N. Michigan


Interestingly, this was the original home of the Institute of Psychoanalysis when Franz Alexander was director, an institution that figured prominently in my dad’s professional life and still does to this day. At the time, Lloyd Wendt wrote that “the lady who has just bared her psyche can go across the street to Saks Fifth Avenue or the new Helena Rubinstein Salon.” In 1980, my dad was kicked out of that building when the Terra Museum decided to buy it and the building next door. The Terra Museum folded in 2004, and in 2007, the entire building was dismantled. Historic elements were retained in the 40-story high-rise and Ritz-Carlton Residences, although the building is hardly the same.

Michigan-Ohio Building – 612 N. Michigan

From 1980-1988, my dad practiced at the former John R. Thompson building. Designed by architect Alfred S. Alschuler, construction began in 1924 and was completed in 1925. Clad in Indiana limestone, the building housed shops and restaurants on the first two floors and offices on the remaining floors. Initially, the building’s corner street-level space housed a typical Thompson “white-tiled armchair rapid fire food emporium.” This is the same Thompson that operated a huge chain of lunchrooms/cafeterias in Chicago in the early 20th century. Shortly after the building was completed and occupied with tenants, Thompson sold the building to the Michigan-Ohio Building Corporation for $1 million.


612 N. Michigan


This time, my dad was asked to give up his suite, so he decided to move to a different address. Among the commercial businesses around that time were Szechwan House and a furrier on the second floor. The building was torn down in 1995 to create the commercial monstrosity 600 N. Michigan.

The last building he practiced at was 500 N. Michigan. From 1988-1998 his office was on the 18th floor. Constructed in 1967 and renovated in 2011, this 24-story building is nice, but not historic. In 1998, the Italian consulate wanted to expand. Although the deal inevitably fell through, my dad decided to move to a shared space on the 15th floor. He practiced there until 2017, albeit just a few days a week in the last few years, and now practices telemedicine exclusively at age 95!


A Short History


Pine Street After Fire, 1871

Widening of North Michigan, 1926

World’s Fair Series Postcard, 1933

Pedestrian Bridge at Michigan and Chicago, 1938


In 1866 a small portion of Pine Street was moved 80 feet west of its original location to accommodate installation of the new pumping station standpipe, housed in the famous Water Tower that survived the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. The main advantage of the north part of the street was its close proximity to the Loop on the south end and Lincoln Park on the north. The area around Rush and Erie was dubbed McCormickville because Cyrus McCormick’s 35-room mansion (built from 1875-1879) was at 675 N. Rush Street. As the Loop expanded, there was a good deal of speculation about developing Pine Street, but the biggest barrier was that the Chicago River divided the street into two separate sections. Although a Michigan Avenue Bridge was approved by the Chicago City Council in 1905, it wasn’t until 1918 that actual construction began. Pine Street was renamed Michigan Avenue in 1917 in anticipation of the bridge opening in 1920. A decision was made early on that this stretch of North Michigan would be exclusive and upscale, with private clubs, expensive hotels, and boutique-scale retailers. The makeshift pedestrian bridge pictured above was built so U.S. Navy seamen training to be officers at the Armory on Chicago Avenue east of Michigan wouldn’t have to deal with traffic. Apparently, it was dismantled shortly after the conclusion of WWII.


The Demolition of Other Classic Buildings


As the late architectural photographer and historical preservationist Richard Nickel could attest to, Chicago seems to have little regard for its historical buildings. Sadly, the Mag Mile is no exception and many exquisite and landmark buildings have been torn down with wanton abandon. In addition to those already mentioned, here are a few others, traveling down Michigan Avenue from north to south.


Exterior view of street and buildings near 936-940 N. Michigan, June 15, 1957


900 N. Michigan Building

For everyone familiar with the iconic 900 North Michigan shops, like me, you may not have known that the original building was completed in 1927 by Chicago architect Jarvis Hunt (1863-1941). Unlike the mammoth 871-foot tall 900 North, which ranks as the 31st tallest building in the U.S., the original was a stately 9-story building with high-quality shops like Walter H. Wilson Ltd. (British silver company) located on the ground floor and 33 rental apartments on the second and third floors. The charming French restaurant Jacques featured a beautiful outdoor dining in the summer and a continental dining room with a glass roof the rest of the year. The remaining six floors were divided into 36 units for the owners of the cooperative apartment building. An effort to get landmark status failed in the early 1980s and the structure was demolished in 1984.



Judah Building & Central Life Building – 720-700 N. Michigan

The taller Central Life Building at 720 N. Michigan was 16 stories high, designed by the Burnham Brothers, and completed in 1924. Designed by Holabird & Root, the shorter building, known as the Judah, was completed in 1930. Both of them were demolished in 1982 and replaced by a Skidmore Owings & Merrill building, with construction completed in 1991. Once known as Chicago Place, this building is currently home to Saks Fifth Avenue, T-Mobile, and Zara. 


Central Life Building

700 N. Michigan Ave


Italian Court Building – 619 N. Michigan

An urban sanctuary at the southeast corner of Michigan and Ontario, this delightful building was constructed from 1919-1926. The Italian Court featured a complex of shops and apartments for artists, and Le Petit Gourmet, a beloved and ultra-romantic date-night favorite for Chicagoans (including my parents). Harriet Tilden (Brainard) Moody opened this delightful restaurant in 1920. Literary celebrities like Robert Frost, Carl Sandburg, Vachel Lindsay, and Edna St. Vincent Millay recited their poetry at the restaurant and mingled with diners afterwards. The Italian Court was demolished in 1968 to build a new high-rise office building at 625 N. Michigan.


Italian Court, October 1, 1953


Michigan Square Building – 540 N. Michigan

Designed by the iconic Chicago firm Holabird & Root, the eight-story Michigan Square Building spanned an entire block and featured fairly nondescript Bedford limestone on the outside. It was the incredible Art Deco lobby with the famous Diana Court that set this building apart. The Diana Court resembled the famous Parisian public rooms of the Ile-de-France, with white-metal-railed stairways zigzagging around it. The floors featured gorgeous terrazzo patterns, bold and tall marble columns, and hidden lights reflecting from behind panels that cast shimmering light onto the exquisite showpiece fountain by sculptor Carl Milles. In 1929, the ballerina Ruth Page and her husband Thomas Fisher rented a one-room studio penthouse here.


Diana Court, 1963


One of the ground-floor tenants was the cutting-edge gallery/shop Baldwin Kingrey, which was in business from 1947-1957. My dad purchased several Eames chairs at Baldwin Kingrey he still has today. In the early 1950s, there were no shops in Chicago selling modern furniture and décor. The brainchild of architect Harry Weese, his wife Kitty Baldwin Weese partnered with Jody Kingrey to open this innovative salon. It featured beautiful modern objects that were affordable for young professionals. Each of the women borrowed $3000 from their parents to buy $9,000 worth of furniture. The concept was so successful, it only took 3 months before they made a profit.



The gallery served as an informal meeting place for students and faculty from the Institute of Design (ID), Chicago architects, and interior designers. The inventory included furniture by leading modernist designers such as Alvar Aalto, Bruno Mathsson, Charles Eames, and Eero Saarinen, and jewelry by sculptor and furniture designer Harry Bertoia. While the address was 105 E. Ohio, the shop was in the famous Michigan Square Building. Ironically, this building was torn down in 1973 and replaced with what is considered the worst Harry Weese building in Chicago – the Marriott Hotel.

McGraw-Hill Building – 520 N. Michigan

This 16-story, 190-foot-tall landmark Art Deco building designed by Theilbar & Fugard was completed in 1929. The facade and its architectural sculpture were designed by Chicago-born artist Gwen Lux. The building was designated a Chicago Landmark on February 7, 1997. While it was torn down in 1999, the beautiful façade was saved and reinstalled in 2000. The hotel was renamed the Gwen Hotel in 2015 and is now part of Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide. This is also the location of the Shops at North Bridge with anchor store Nordstrom.

Silver Skyscraper (Music Corporation of America Building)

One of the narrowest skyscrapers in the U.S., this 13-story building with a depth of only 25 feet from Michigan to its back side, was designed by Loebl & Schlossman and completed in 1929. It featured an Art Deco design façade with continuous limestone piers rising to three projecting fins in front of a set-back upper floor. It was demolished in 1963 and replaced by the Realtor Building, which Billy Goat Tavern moved into on the lower level, back in 1964.

Personal Reflections


As a child, by far my favorite place was the Woolworth store at Michigan and Huron. By the time I was 10, I was taking the bus by myself to downtown Chicago from Lincolnwood. My mom rarely gave me any money beyond what I needed for bus fare, but I managed to find spare change on the ground or sometimes brought my meager savings earned from returning Diet Rite bottles to the corner store. I loved the counters and displays filled with delightful trinkets, and I fondly remember the turquoise and yellow parakeets chirping away in the pet section. I loved buying big grab bags of stamps, Blue Waltz cologne, K-Tel record albums, and eating at the lunch counter with my mom. After looking for years for photos of this store, I finally found one where you can partially see the red store sign, circa 1961. That tiny building was torn down to build the huge Omni Hotel at 676 N. Michigan.


Looking North on Michigan from Erie, 1961


Saks Fifth Avenue

As a child, I loved shopping on occasion at the most iconic Chicago location of Saks Fifth Avenue at 669 N. Michigan. Prior to moving to the Blackstone Shop Building in 1935, the store was farther north at the corner of Chestnut and Michigan. Designed by Philip B. Maher, the store had been leased to Stanley Korshak in 1929, who moved north near Oak Street. Although we rarely bought anything at Saks, I was enchanted by looking down the spiral staircase to the floors below, especially when Santa Claus was sitting there. In January 1985, I experienced something far less pleasant when I witnessed a women bleeding from her head after being struck by debris from a construction fire at a building at 101 E. Erie across Michigan Ave.



A one-story addition to the original building was designed by Holabird & Root and erected in 1944 with a nine-story addition by the firm added in 1966. A curious fact about Saks is that the charming Malabry Court apartments were hidden away behind the store. Designed by Maher and completed in 1926, the six rather small but elegant apartments were French-inspired with wood burning fireplaces. Oddly, the book Chicago’s North Michigan Avenue: Planning and Development, 1900-1930 states the address of Malabry as 571 N. Michigan, which seems odd considering Saks’ address was 669 N. Michigan.

Tip Top Tap Sign

As a kid, I was fascinated by the Tip Top Tap sign on the Allerton Hotel. Built in 1922-1924, the hotel is a rare example of Italian Renaissance Revival architecture. Don McNeil hosted his popular Breakfast Club radio show from the swanky Tip Top Tap cocktail lounge on the 23rd floor. After it closed in 1961, he broadcast from the hotel’s Cloud Room on the same floor. The hotel has been sold several times over the years and when it was the Allerton Crowne Plaza Hotel, the 23rd floor area that once housed both of these lounges was converted into a ballroom. According to a 2014 Chicago Tribune article, the new owner Warwick International Hotels has plans to reopen the Tip Top Tap.


Allerton Hotel and Saks Fifth Avenue, June 27, 1958

North Michigan Avenue, 1964

Photograph credit: William C. Brubaker, 1982

Michigan at Erie, 1994


Defunct Retail Stores & Eateries

Countless stores that once called the Mag Mile home no longer exist, while others like Saks Fifth Avenue and Hanig’s Footwear abandoned their digs for glitzier new buildings. These are just a few of the defunct businesses. I’m counting on Consumer Grouch readers to add more!

  • Andrew Geller
  • Anna’s Florist
  • B. Dalton Bookseller
  • Bes-Ben
  • Blum’s Vogue
  • Bonwit Teller
  • Borders
  • Boul-Mich Lounge
  • Bramson’s
  • The Brassary
  • The Brass Bull
  • Brittany Ltd.
  • Celano’s Custom Tailor Shop (Chicago mob headquarters)
  • Dunhill
  • Florsheim Shoes (the company is still in business)
  • Frank Brothers
  • I. Magnin
  • Jacques French Restaurant
  • Joseph Salon Shoes
  • Kon-Tiki Ports
  • Lake Shore National Bank
  • L’Escargot 
  • Lower East Side
  • Main Street Bookstore
  • Marshall Field’s (at Water Tower)
  • Martha Weathered
  • Mrs. Snyder’s
  • NH Rosenthal Furs
  • Normandy House Restaurant
  • Panache
  • S. Garber Furs
  • Seasons Best
  • Sherlock’s Home
  • 625
  • Stanley Korshak (A Dallas heiress purchased rights to the name)
  • Stuart Brent
  • Szechuan House
  • Tale of the Whale
  • The Forgotten Woman
  • Tip Top Tap
  • Upper Avenue National Bank
  • Viacom Entertainment Store
    Walter H. Wilson Ltd.
  • Woolworth

Art Galleries

  • Baldwin Kingrey Gallery
  • Allan Frumkin Gallery
  • R.S. Johnson Fine Art
  • Terra Museum
  • Wally Findlay Galleries (Still in NYC and Palm Beach)

Stay tuned for a separate blog on Michigan Avenue south of the Chicago River and South Michigan, because it deserves equal billing!


Photo sources: Art Institute of Chicago, Calumet 412, Chicago Collections, Chuckman Chicago, Chuckman’s Collection, Classic Chicago Magazine, Cocktailera, Etsy, Explore Chicago Collections, Forgotten Chicago, Northwestern University, Pinterest, Tumblr, YoChicago


  1. Betsy: For a short time around 1974, I lived in one of the six townhouse apartments behind Saks. They were arranged around an open courtyard right behind the store, each one had an upper floor, and they were beautiful. The address was actually 675 North Michigan Avenue. The gentleman that had the apartment next to mine used it as an office and I seem to remember that he was a psychologist or a psychiatrist.


    • Hi Bob: Thanks for posting – it must have been a unique experience living in one of those apartments. Do you have any pictures from back then of the apartment or courtyard?

    • I remember those apartments so well, the Near North Side which is what we called it in the 1950s. I lived at 900 LSD and later 220 E. Walton Pl. I would go out very late at night as at 2 a.m. late – my mother would have been aghast as I was only eight years old. Sometimes I would walk over to the Water Tower on the east side of Michigan, I guess that was the pumping station(?). Even at that hour, the doors were always open – the inside was like a giant jungle gym.

      Thank you very, very much for taking the time to post all the photos, but particularly to recount your father’s career in this loving format.

      Sincerely, Ann Korach

  2. Betsy: Unfortunately, I do not have any pictures from then and it certainly was a unique experience. At the time, I was in my 20s and didn’t appreciate the beautiful architecture as I do now. When I moved in, because the stairway leading up to the second floor was so narrow, my father, who helped me move in and has been gone for 35 years, had to saw the wooden frame on the box spring of my queen size bed in half in order to get it up the stairs. He then used screws to put it back together on the second floor.

    I certainly remember those times with fondness. At the time, I worked in the Loop as I did for 42 years after that. (I am now retired) Cab rides were so reasonably priced at that time, I almost always took a cab to work. When the weather was decent I would walk home from work. I remember that the boss of the lady I was dating at the time was a member of the Faces disco club on Rush Street and we would often go there on Saturday night. I lived in the area from 1970 until 1979 when I got married. Also, we would often go to Mr. Kelly’s night club to see various acts. I saw Steve Martin there when he had dark hair and a beard – before he was famous. I also saw Bette Midler there. She let her unknown piano player sing a couple of songs and his name was Barry Manilow. I remember seeing Little Peggy March perform there sometime in the early 70s. Most of the patrons at the time were older than I was and I seemed to be the only one that knew that she had the hit song “I Will Follow Him” in 1963.

    One of the go-to places I went to for pizza in those days was Gino’s East – not too far from my apartment. Sometimes when I was out in the middle of the night, I would go to the Jack-in-the-Box near the corner of Chicago and Michigan that was open 24 hours. I also remember the tennis courts that were on the block where Water Tower Place was later built. Reading your blog brings back a lot of good memories for me.


    • Bob, I just happened across this post and wanted to clarify. You lived in one of those little 2-story townhouses on top of the building? I read you don’t have any photos, but any additional recollections about the interior or time in the courtyard? Malabry Ct has been a passion of mine for years. Thnx MIKE LYNN

      Use my regular email also, just in case.


      • Mike: I would actually characterize the six little townhouses as being at the back of the building and a couple of floors up, rather than at the top of the building. The townhouses had a large living room on the first floor with a small kitchenette just off of it. There was a long winding staircase that led to a bedroom with a bathroom off of it. Us residents that actually lived there rather than using the townhouse as an office were very friendly. I often barbequed in the courtyard when the weather was nice. My girlfriend’s boss lived in the townhouse across from me. There was a very friendly young couple in their early twenties, newly married, that lived next to him. They would be in their middle sixties by now.

        I remember the first apartment between Michigan Avenue and Lake Shore Drive that I moved into in the area when I turned 21 – during my last year of college. There were no condos then and the rent was less than $200.00 a month. It is probably $2,000 a month now. I lived in a number of apartments in the area then, but the townhouse was my favorite.


  3. I worked at 500 N. Michigan for years and could not remember the name of my favorite little store, The Season’s Best! What memories. I currently work at Neiman Marcus and reminisce how the Mag Mile has changed so much. Favorites like Bonwit Teller and I. Magnin are gone and all the fabulous restaurants. Those were the days! What a great job you did in this piece of nostalgia.

    • Hi Becky – So glad you enjoyed this blog and thanks for sharing your comments. Perhaps I’ve seen you at Neiman Marcus – if you work in handbags!

  4. When I first arrived in the neighborhood, Scandinavian Design was on the first floor, and had either mezzanine or second floor space, at 920 N. Michigan in the mid-1970s. They later moved to the concourse at The Hancock Center. Brady C’est Bon Salon first appeared in the late 1960s mid-block (west side) on Michigan Avenue between Superior and Chicago in a one-story commercial space. It was just north of a McDonald’s, which was on the northwest corner of Michigan and Superior – also a one-story building. In the early 1970s, Brady C’est Bon Salon took up the entire third floor of 920 N. Michigan above Blum’s Vogue and Scandinavian Design. They stayed for several years until the building was razed.

    In the mid-1970s, the Playboy Building had a concourse from an entrance on Michigan Avenue through the building to the lobby of the Playboy Hotel (now the Royal Knickerbocker). Also, there was a wonderful Jewish? Deli on the third or fourth floor of the Playboy Building that made the best sandwiches (my introduction to tongue on rye) in the neighborhood and had “new pickles” which I loved. Another option was the street-level drug store lunch counter at the Drake Hotel with a Michigan Avenue entrance. They prepared the most delicious chicken salad and tuna salad sandwiches.

  5. I remember a furniture store – not John M. Smyth, not Crate & Barrel – from the 1970s or so that was on or near North Michigan Avenue (maybe on Chestnut or Pearson St.). Do you recall the name of this store?

  6. Betsy,

    Thank you for the wonderful blog post! I also explored Michigan Avenue alone or with friends when I was in grade school. I am amazed at all of the information you shared. I had a friend who lived in the beautiful 900 N. Michigan building in the 1950s. I am a retired CAF docent and my architectural interest continues.


    • Hi Gail – Thanks for leaving feedback – glad you enjoyed this blog. The apartment at 900 N. Michigan must have been beautiful.

  7. Betsy, I am trying to find out history of 900 N. Michigan Avenue (I think). I am doing family ancestry searching. My grandfather on my dad’s side (whom I never met) had a work location on his WWI draft registration card of “900 Tribune Building”, Chicago, IL. I was wondering where this might have been, since the Tribune Tower was elsewhere on N. Michigan and you have information on what was in the 900 N. Michigan space in the 1920’s. I am hoping you might know!

    He was self-employed…states something like Manufacturer of Pub products company. Thanks.

    • Hi John – This is a mystery. According to a small historical article on the Chicago Tribune website, the newspaper was in eight locations since its founding. In 1902, the Tribune moved to a brand new 17-story skyscraper at Dearborn and Madison streets. They stayed there until they moved to the magnificent 435 N. Michigan Avenue Tribune Tower in 1925. The newspaper headquarters remained there until they moved to a building south of the Chicago River in 2018.

      So during WWI, they weren’t even on Michigan Avenue. The 900 on your grandfather’s card might refer to the suite number in the Dearborn building.

    • I am also looking for information and pictures of the 900 block – my wife’s grandmother lived there for some time with her parents at 920 N. Michigan. I believe it is the Four Seasons Hotel now.

  8. Dear Consumer Grouch,

    This is a wonderful look back at Chicago’s iconic North Michigan Avenue. I was the chef of Jacques and Tale of the Whale in the mid-70’s. I worked for Joe Castro’s restaurant group which had about 10 fine restaurants in Chicago. Over a 20+-year time span, I worked at the Continental Plaza, The Whitehall, Jovan, Le Perroquet, and the Gaslight Club – all within a few blocks.

    On December 20, 1976, an ambulance and police cars were gathered outside the 900 N. Michigan building and we were wondering what happened. A day later we learned that Mayor Daley died upstairs. For a while after, rumors went around that he had died of food poisoning, after dining at Jacques, but he hadn’t been in the restaurant at all. Fortunately, the facts came out – he was in his doctor’s office, also located in the building. The strange thing I remember is that it was a fairly sunny day outside, unusual for Chicago in December.

    My question for you is unrelated. Would you recall the name of the smallish, elegant fine furnishings store located in the same building on the corner of Delaware and Michigan at that time. When I had a little money to spare, I bought some very beautiful things there and still have many of them 45 years later.

    Thank you for bringing back great memories and photos. Craig A. Brewer

    • Hi Craig,

      I have such fond memories of lunch at Jacques with my mom! It was like eating in a garden of Paradise! Can you tell me the years that Jacques was open? Do you have any personal mementos from the restaurant?

      Thank you for bringing back such wonderful memories. Elaine

    • Thanks, Craig for reading the blog and sharing your incredible memories. Indeed, Chicago is a wonderful city for culinary innovations and fantastic restaurants. I have to thank you on behalf of my now 96 and 91-year old parents. Jovan and Le Perroquet were two of their favorite restaurants and you worked there! I loved Ed Debevic’s and was sad when they closed the original restaurant.

    • Craig, Malcolm Franklin Antiques was in the 900 N. Michigan Avenue building. Could that be the store where you purchased your furniture?

  9. Dear Consumer Grouch,

    In my 75th year of age, memories can be spotty, but I just want to add one more notable place at which I was the Executive Chef. From 1986 to 1987, I worked for Richard Melman’s Lettuce Entertain You Group at The Pump Room in The Ambassador East. I helped open Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba and Ed Debevic’s. Chef Jean Joho used The Pump Room prep kitchen for testing some of his preparations prior to opening The Everest Room.

    I had many friends and colleagues in Chicago and we were a small community of cooks; most of my positions were a result of recommendations from others. Those were wonderful times. John Mariani was the maître d’ at the Consort Room on the 16th floor restaurant at the Continental Plaza Hotel, where Frantz Benteler and his Royal Strings Orchestra played almost every night.

  10. Kathryn Konrad

    Thank you for posting this. My parents immigrated here 38 years ago and worked as servers at the Szechwan House. This is where they began the American dream. Thank you for bringing back memories for our family.

    • I love hearing stories like this about how people fulfilled their dreams – thanks so much for sharing.

  11. The original Chez Paul restaurant was just east of Michigan Ave at 180 E Delaware from 1945-1964 when it moved to Rush and Erie. We would go there to dine in the late 1950’s (I was 6 or 7) because it was my grandfather’s place – Papa Paul. Across the street on the south side of Delaware was a vacant lot where the Hancock building opened in 1969. The only other building on the entire block at the time was the Casino Club on the southwest corner of Delaware and Seneca. The Hancock building area was a parking lot which had a huge white billboard sign facing Michigan Ave with gold lettering advertising the First National Bank of Chicago. I believe the sign was there until they began construction of the Hancock in 1967 or 68. Fond memories.

  12. Remember the ice-skating rink on the lower level of the Hancock Building in the early 1970s? On winter evenings, it was delightful. Not that many skaters; maybe that’s the reason it lasted only a year or two. There was a good coffee shop on the lower level as well.

    I also recall the Don Roth’s restaurant on Pearson just west of Michigan Ave. They had the best salad bar. I think it was $4.95, all you can eat.

    And the O’Connell’s restaurant down near the Wrigley Building. As I recall, their menu was about twelve pages long! And everyone remembers Charmet’s, across from the Water Tower.

    North Michigan Avenue used to be such a classy street. When the marble-clad, but still ugly Water Tower Place was built, that seemed to doom the neighborhood feeling of the area. It became garish, epitomized by the Marriott Hotel on Michigan Ave.

  13. Ironically, this building was torn down in 1973 and replaced with what is considered the worst Harry Weese building in Chicago – the Marriott Hotel.

    Yes, I was 11, and later when I was about 13, Steve Katz and I biked down to N. Michigan to laugh at the hideousness of the Marriott Hotel. It truly cheapened Michigan Avenue.

    The high point of Michigan Avenue was when they copied the French architecture and melded it with Art Deco in the late 1920s and 30s. But after WWII everything cool was the International Style, and that melded oh so well with all the destructive things we know so well: parking garages, chain stores, and then the downfall of all the Chicago stores that gave the city its distinctiveness, to be replaced by Target and CVS every five feet.

    Just out of curiosity why did your dad need to practice on Michigan Avenue? Why, for example, didn’t he have his psychiatric practice on Touhy near Cicero?

    • Thanks for your comments on this post and especially the Tribute to My Dad. The reason my dad practiced on Michigan Avenue is why nearly every one of his colleagues did – a close association with the Chicago Psychoanalytic Institute (formerly Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis. Many analysts actually had offices at the Institute, including Mark Berger, the late former husband of your family friend Eve. Most of my dad’s patients lived in the city – having his practice in Lincolnwood would not have been viable. Besides, he loved the city and so much of what defined him was there – the CSO, the Art Institute, art galleries, etc.

      With that said, he did march to his own drummer since most of his colleagues thought he was crazy to live in Lincolnwood and not North Shore suburbs like they did – Wilmette, Winnetka, Glencoe and Highland Park. I have read many of your blogs on Here in Van Nuys and have some questions/thoughts about Lincolnwood I wish to share privately.

  14. Ah the wonders of the Internet…I stumbled upon this blog post while searching for some history related to NH Rosenthal Furs. NH Rosenthal was my paternal grandfather (whom I never knew, unfortunately), and my father’s sister, Shirley Cooper, ran the business for decades. For many years, she lived in one of the apartments above the Walgreen’s at 777 N Michigan Ave.

    I laughed at your recollection of the Woolworth’s as I have always said that I could be blindfolded and taken anywhere and would recognize that store by its distinctive smell. I seem to remember popcorn near the entrance.

    Although I never lived in Chicago, I definitely spent a lot of time there. My maternal grandparents lived on E. Lake Shore Drive just down the block from the Drake Hotel. Both my parents grew up on the South Side, and they would have absolutely loved this blog post and its accompanying photographs. They could have provided a lot of additional history, I’m sure.

    Thanks for the trip down memory lane…or Michigan Ave as the case may be.

  15. I found this page because I was looking for some information on the house my wife’s grandmother who grew up at 920 N. Michigan Ave. I learned here that it was widened later – they lived there in the 1920’s. George and Gertrude Gaylord and my wife’s grandmother was Margaret Gaylord. If you have any pictures of that block in the 20;s I’d love to see them! I was really fond of Margaret. She was like Forest Gump. She was at the airfield in France when Lindbergh landed, she was at the pyramids when they discovered King Tut’s tomb, she was traveling in Germany in the mid 30’s and met Goering and then Mussolini in Italy, then came back and met with Roosevelt! Unfortunately, other family members have those pictures and won’t let copies out of their control.

    Jeff Collins
    New Orleans

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