In 1916, Rand McNally & Company published a panoramic photo of Michigan Avenue. The image stretched across two pages of their annual compendium, One Hundred and Twenty-Five Photographic Views of Chicago, and captured a row of buildings that overlooked Grant Park. The scene was a man-made cliff with beginnings in 1885, and if you compare it to the view you see today, it’s not all that different. Nearly all of the buildings are still there, including Burnham’s Railway Exchange and Orchestra Hall; Adler and Sullivan’s Auditorium; Beman’s Fine Arts Building; Cobb’s Chicago Athletic Club; and Shepley, Rutan, and Coolidge’s Chicago Public Library. That streetwall of historic structures, which became the Historic Michigan Boulevard District in 2002, is one of the defining images of Chicago. It’s a three-dimensional display of the city’s past, representing its architectural, commercial, and cultural development.
The official Chicago Landmark District extends from 11th Street north to Randolph Street. The 1916 photo’s boundaries are a little different, beginning at the Blackstone Hotel at what was once 7th Street and ending with the Federal Life Building half a block north of Randolph. Those seemingly disparate bookends have something in common: they were both designed by Benjamin Marshall. The Federal Life Building, unlike the gloriously restored and well-documented hotel, nearly disappeared.
Read more about this landmark in Living Landmarks of Chicago.
Architect: Marshall & Fox
Address: 168 N. Michigan Ave.
Sources for Federal Life Building (Hotel Julian)
This is a selection of specific sources used to provide details while researching this landmark. Additional sources, including books and websites, can be found on the Resources page.
- “Art in Buildings.” LIFE Magazine, 9 Aug 1963.
- Benjamin Marshall Society
- Chicago Landmarks Designation Report – Michigan Boulevard Historic District
- Preservation Chicago
- Rand, McNally & co. [from old catalog]. One Hundred And Twenty-five Photographic Views of Chicago: a Collection of Reproductions From Photographs of the Most Prominent Streets, Buildings, Statues, Park Scenes, And Other Features of Interest In the City. Chicago and New York: Rand, McNally & company, 1916.
- Withey, Henry F, and Elsie Rathburn Withey. Biographical Dictionary of American Architects (deceased). Los Angeles: New Age Pub. Co, 1956.