Another rarely offered Chicago Architecture Foundation tour was a detailed look at the Chicago Board of Trade Building.
We met inside briefly before going outside to view the building from LaSalle Street. Among the highlights is the statue of Ceres on top of the building. The statue has no face, which some urban legends say it was because when the building was completed it was much taller than the other buildings, but our docent says that is untrue.
Knowing we were going to visit soon I was able to get an overview photo from Willis Tower just before we headed over.
Note the much lower glass roof to the right – more on that later.
The Board of Trade Building no longer has trading floors, but when they did they mostly dealt in agricultural items such as grains and animals.
This history is celebrated on the outside by a series of bovines (lower left and right center), as well as the two sculptures next to the clock.
The one of the left is Mesopotamian, which was the oldest civilization where crops began, and the Native American on the right represents the new country (America) and the crops.
The Goddess of Industry and Goddess of Agriculture had been positioned on the original building in the 1800s, but were relocated when it was torn down and this building was built.
This photo shows what the trading floors looked like. Unfortunately they are no longer there, as everything has become electronic. The 8 sides ‘pits’ shape now serve as the logo for the building.
Opened in 1930 at the height of the Art Deco movement, it is a masterpiece in the style.
Art Deco pieces are everywhere – from the lighting in the entrance…
To the main lobby lighting bank.
The air ducts….
and the coffee shop. The shop is named for Ceres, who was the Goddess of Grain. Interestingly cereal is named for Ceres.
More detail on the railings of the mezzanine.
The interior also has a number of symbols for grain worked into the design including this railing.
Since it was completed just a couple of years after Lindburgh crossed the Atlantic, they though it would be cool to include a separate mail box for Air Mail.
More grain symbolism on the elevator doors.
In 1980 a 23 floor expansion was completed to the south. While it retains some of the Art Deco elements, it is nowhere near as opulent as the original building.
They did retain some of the elevator doors that were eliminated in some refurbishing and now use them as art behind the security desk.
The new section is the one mentioned earlier with the large glass ceiling and atrium.
One highlight in the atrium is a fiberglass cow, decorated with the logo of the building – the 8 sided symbol representing the shape of the trading pits.
Gracing the atrium is this 3 story mural of Ceres, which from 1930 until 1973 hung in the agricultural trading floor.
The glass atrium rises 12 floors above, starting on the 12th floor.
It was designed by the same person who designed the Thompson Center, Helmut Jahn.
Returning to the original section, we toured the mezzanine level.
Even something as simple as the staircase handrail has amazing detail.
We went to the basement, passing by the floors with modes of transportation in them.
Our last stop was the vault. We had seen this on the Open House Chicago tours, but it is always worth a stop.
I asked our docent which was the infamous vault of Al Capone, and she indicated she believe that to be urban legend, as everything in Chicago seems to want to have an Al Capone connection.
With that our tour of the Chicago Board of Trade Building was completed. Once again our docent was knowledgeable and entertaining, and the tour was well worth it.