Sunday, September 29, 2013

Motor Row Historic District, Chicago Locomobile, Hudson, Marmon More

It looks like a sad ghost town for the most part as serious redevelopment of this area has yet to take place. That's too bad because the area is full of history beyond that regarding car dealers. Other attractions to area include Prairie St. home to some of the cities oldest mansions and at 2140 Michigan Chess studios.

Here is how one of the markers describes what was the original magnificent mile.
"In 1902 there were only 600 automobiles in the Chicagoland area. Within thirty years there were 90,000 cars. The interest in motor vehicles continued to expand rapidly with 300,000 on the road by 1935. Many of the automobiles purchased during this time frame were purchased on Chicago's Motor Row.

A gateway to opulence for the automobile industry was fashioned on south Michigan Avenue. The buildings that served as showrooms for the automobile manufacturers were custom made for every aspect of sales and service. Architects such as Christian Eckstrom, Alfred Alscheuler, Philip Maher, William Holabird, Martin Roche and Albert Kahn crafted these multi-storied structures for the repair, painting, storage and selling of the most modern advance in private transportation: the automobile.

This group of commercial buildings here on the Near South Side of Chicago is considered to be the largest, intact early automobile row in the United States. At it's peak as many as 116 different automobile manufacturers were represented within several blocks of downtown Chicago. Ford, Fiat, Buick, Cadillac, Pierce Arrow, Locomobile, Marmon and Hudson, to name a few, were displayed for the cunsumer's pleasure. The excitment and pulsating atmosphere was matched only by the smooth ride and shiny exterior of a brand new motor vehicle."

This video features four of the buildings.

The Locomobile of America Co. showrooms was at 2000 South Michigan Avenue . Designed by architects Jenny, Mundie & Jensen it opened in 1909. A three-story corner building .. of reinforced concrete trimmed in brick and terra

The Hudson Motor Showroom  is at 2222-2228 South Michigan Ave. Architect: Alfred Alschuler designed a richly decorated building with details like; H for Hudson medallions above the Palladian windows,  the twisted columns, rope modelling around the windows and more.

The Marmon Co. Showroom at 2232 South Michigan Avenue  was designed by architect: Alfred Alschuler and finished in 1922.
This Spanish-revival style building still has the company name Marmon on its terra cotta facade .. It has been renovated and converted in Marmon Grand banquet ..
Trivia: One car in the Marmon line, the Wasp, is the legendary winner of the first Indianapolis 500-Mile Race, in 1911

The Chicago Motor Club building  2400 S. Michigan Ave. Designed by  Prairie School architect Philip Maher, opened in 1936.The Chicago Motor Club building was designed and completed within 265 days in 1928 and opened January of the next year. Having been granted National Register status in 1978, the building is widely regarded as one of Chicago's finest Art Deco style skyscrapers.

In 1954 it was sold to the Chicago Defender newspaper in 1954. They filled in the basemant pool, moved in printing presses and operated out of here for forty years. It has stood vacant since 2006 and is looking pretty rundown.  It is on the Landmarks Preservation Council of Illinois Chicagoland Watch List

There is an extensive post about this building on the Forgotten Chicago site.

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