Chicago Architecture Info

Chicago Board of Trade

Photographs

Facts

Address 141 West Jackson Boulevard, Chicago, Illinois 60611
Neighborhood The Loop
Built 1929 - 1930
Architecture firm Holabird & Root
Type
  • Office
  • Skyscraper
Floors 45
Height 605 feet
Cost $22,000,000
Floor space 1,300,000 square feet

Notes

  • The sculpture of Ceres, the Roman goddess of agruiculture, was executed by John Storrs.
  • The statue of Ceres at the top of the building is 30 feet tall and weighs 6,500 pounds.
  • This building is clad with gray limestone.
  • At the time of its completion, this was the tallest building in Chicago. It was surpassed in 1965 by the Chicago Civic Center (now the Daley Center).
  • Although the "Chicago Board of Trade" no longer exists, its successor, the CME Group has chosen to keep the building's historic name.
  • At one time there were more than 2,700 miles of communications cables beneath the trading floor.

Timeline

March 11, 2020 The trading floor was closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It never reopened, as traders moved exclusively to electronic methods.

Narrative

It is appropriate that the building so many architecture fans consider the best in Chicago is located nearly at the center of the city. The Chicago Board of Trade building is a textbook art deco skyscraper, complete with three-part division, setbacks, light wells, and all the decorative touches that go with a skyscraper of its period, topped off by a pyramid and an aluminum art moderne interpretation of the goddess Ceres.

It stands powerfully as an anchor of the city's financial district. When it was built, it rose above all the other buildings in the region. Even as the building aged, it grew with several additions by notable architects who took great pains with style and material to create harmonious, yet updated, structures that would work with the masterpiece original.

But over the years, as commodities lost their luster, this building became less and less prominent in the skyline, overshadowed by towers erected by banks and mass merchandisers. Still, the Chicago Board of Trade remained tied to the heart strings of the city, and is a sentimental favorite that brings people back to a different time in a familiar space.

This is not the first Chicago Board of Trade building at this location. The original was erected in 1882, and was the first building in Chicago with electricity. But when the Federal Reserve built its new bank across the street, it was so heavy that it caused problems with the original Board of Trade building's flimsy foundation, and it was declared unsound.

In 1929 the original building was torn down and construction began on the building we see today. It was hailed as a masterpiece then, and is no less remarkable now. The 19,000 square foot trading floor on the skyscraper's 12th floor was in almost continuous operation through the beginning of 2020.

But the real show is on the outside. There are dozens of allegorical statues adorning the building and its immediate surroundings, including industry, agriculture, bulls, indians bearing corn, and other traders.

Of course, the star of it all is the stylized Roman goddess Ceres, perched atop the building's copper pyramid. She is made of solid aluminum and weighs 6,500 pounds. By the 1980's she had deteriorated significantly and was helicoptered off her perch for some rehab and then returned to her roost.

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