Otherwise known as the Borg-Warner Building, this building is the current headquarters of Johnson Publishing Company, and housed the offices of the Chicago Defender for a short period in the 2000s, prior to the newspaper's move back to the South Side.
200 South Michigan Avenue.
Image courtesy of Chicago Architecture
200 South Michigan stands at the site of the former Pullman Building which was built in 1885 and demolished during the 1950s. The building was named after its backer George Mortimore Pullman, a prominent American inventor and businessman who founded the Pullman Palace Car Company in the years following the Civil War.
Pullman's name would go on to become synonymous with sleeping cars on all major railways, and with the Pullman Porters who worked as handlers and assistants on the trains. Up until the 1960s, the Pullman Porters were comprised entirely of African Americans, and scholars such as Beth Tompkins Bates have credited them with contributing to the development of the black middle class during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.
The Pullman Building, circa 1900.
Image courtesy of New York Public Library
In 1883 Pullman commissioned architect Solon Beman to design a dramatic new skyscraper which would carry his name and house his company's offices. Less than fifteen years after the Great Fire of Chicago, the Pullman Building would become one of the most recognisable additions to the rapidly changing Chicago landscape. While Beman would later become famous for adopting a classical architectural style - most notably at Chicago's World Fair of 1893 - the Pullman Building was Romanesque in influence, taking its cues from buildings such as Chicago's Glessner House designed by Henry Hobson Richardson. Pullman spent over $800,000 constructing the Pullman Building, which upon completion stood ten stories high and measured 169 feet by 120 feet along Adams Street and Michigen Avenue. Its roof was 125 from ground level, while the top of its corner tower stretched to over 160 feet above the streets below.
Joseph Korom has suggested that the Pullman Building was perhaps the first "truly mixed-use skyscraper" to be built in Chicago, with the structure housing 125 office suites and 75 apartments. In this regard, it can be seen as an important precursor to the mixed use skyscrapers which litter the near North Side of Chicago today. As with the vast majority of building's built in the centre of Chicago after the Great Fire, it was advertised as "completely fireproof." An imposing red granite, brick and terra cotta structure, the Pullman Building was also one of the first skyscrapers built in Chicago which faced Lake Michigan - a trend that would become increasingly popular throughout the twentieth century.
Pullman Building, circa 1884. Image courtesy of The Man On Five
The Pullman Company offices would remain in the Pullman Building until 1948, after which they were relocated to Merchandise Mart. Less than ten years later, the building itself would be razed as part of destructive redevelopment efforts by Mayor Richard Daley, alongside many other prominent downtown buildings. Its replacement was the more functional, but certainly less beautiful Borg-Warner Building, completed in 1958 for an estimated cost of $12 million.
Following the sale of 820 South Michigan, Johnson Publishing secured a lease of the 20th and 21st floors of 200 South Michigan Avenue. At around 11,000 total square feet, the new offices were much cosier than the more than 110,000 square feet available to JPC at its previous location - although multiple reports suggest that a significant proportion of that space had been unoccupied during the company's final years at 820 South Michigan.
Despite this dramatic downsizing, Crain's Chicago Business speculated that 200 South Michigan would be a good fit for the social aspirations of CEO Desiree Rogers and publisher Linda-Johnson Rice, with the building boasting a top-floor patio with views over Millenium Park and the Art Institute of Chicago. In 2014 the building switched hands when it was purchased for $69 million by Equus Capital Partners Ltd., a private equity real estate fund.
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