Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Old Post Office

Just heard that the Old Post Office Building by Graham, Anderson, Probst and White, (originally built in 1921 and greatly expanded in the 30's) that straddles the Eisenhower Expressway between Clinton and Canal Streets is up for auction. I have to suspend my perhaps misguided admiration for buildings built before 1950 on this one. While it has some nice Art Deco details, it's a behemoth that creates a most un-welcome terminus to the view of the city to the west.

It's construction forever put the kibosh on the centerpiece the Burnham Plan, namely the Congress Street east-west axis of the city, and the focal point of the entire plan, a magnificent (if somewhat over-bearing), Beaux-Arts civic center at the intersection with Halsted Street. This is ironic since G.A.P.&W. was the successor firm to Burnham's.

Once that became a fait accompli, it was a mere twenty years before the construction of the Expressway which necessitated the widening of Congress Street east of the Post Office building all the way to Buckingham Fountain. This was arguably one of the most devastating blows to the city in terms of its architecture as it wiped out several buildings as well as the first floor storefronts of the Auditorium building and the Congress Hotel. It also irrevocably altered Congress Plaza at Michigan Ave. separating Ivan Mestrovic's two great equestrian statues, Spearman and Bowman. Here is the plaza as it looks today:

There have been numerous attempts to find an alternate use for the past several years but given the magnitude and the current economic climate, nothing has panned out.

I doubt there will be a strong move from preservationists to save it but I could be wrong.

Personally I wouldn't be sad to see it go although it is still kind of cool to drive through the center of the building to have the city open up to you.

Bids open up at just 300K, just a tad more than our condo.


Anonymous said...

I don't know the building. Are there any pictures of it on the web?

jamesiska said...

Here's a link to Blair Kamin's blog, complete with photograph: