Old Chicago Main Post Office

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Coordinates: 41°52′32″N 87°38′20″W / 41.875622°N 87.638769°W / 41.875622; -87.638769

Old Main Post Office over Congress Parkway.
Aerial view of Chicago with The Old Chicago Main Post Office visible in the bottom right

The Old Chicago Main Post Office is a nine-story-tall building in Chicago designed by Graham, Anderson, Probst & White and built in 1921. The original structure was a brick-sided mail terminal building, still sited just east of the main building that engulfs the Eisenhower Expressway as it turns into Congress Parkway. Major expansion in 1932 added a total of nine floors for more than 60 acres (24 ha), or 2.5 million square feet (230,000 m²) of floorspace. Its footprint, as initially designed, would have blocked the proposed Congress Parkway extension. As a compromise, a hole for the Parkway was reserved in the base of the Post Office and utilized twenty years later.[1] In 1966 the Main Chicago Post Office came to a virtual halt when a logjam of 10 million pieces of mail clogged the system for almost one whole week.[2] With Chicago rated worst in postal deliveries, a new Main Post Office was proposed for right across Harrison Street. In 1997, the old building was vacated in favor of the new, modernized facility. The official address of the Old Post office is 433 W. Van Buren, Chicago, IL.[3] A February 2006 report by the General Accounting Office stated that it cost the government $2 million a year to maintain the retired building.[4]

The building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2001.[3]


The post office was used in the filming of Batman Begins in 2004,[5] and for filming The Dark Knight in April 2007.[6][7][8][9] The film crew had plenty of signs up for shooting of "Rory's First Kiss," a.k.a. RFK, but that title is simply a pseudonym for "The Dark Knight." Many websites included pictures of the outside of the Post Office, which was decorated as "Gotham National Bank" on the North side of the building, and "Gotham Police Department" on the East side.

In the summer of 2010, Paramount Pictures and Michael Bay filmed numerous scenes for Transformers: Dark of the Moon in and around Chicago. The old Chicago Post Office's east facade was decorated as the "Department of Health and Human Services" where the Autobots were kept by the federal government in the movies. The same interior that was used for filming of the bank heist in The Dark Knight was used again for Transformers: Dark of the Moon. There were also some scattered shots from within the Post Office interior used throughout the film.[10]


On June 9, 2009, the Chicago Sun-Times reported that the postal service was placing the post office on the auction block. Held on August 27 and conducted by Rick Levin & Associates Inc., the auction raised $40 million, which was well over the opening bid of $300,000.[11][12] The buyer was reported to be English real estate developer Bill Davies.[13] [14] While Davies missed an October 10, 2009 deadline to close the deal, he finally acquired the building on October 21, 2009, paying about $17 million.[15]

Exactly nine months after acquiring the post office property from the Postal Service, Bill Davies unveiled his plan for the Post Office on July 21st, 2011. The proposal, which involved three other properties besides the 14-story Post Office, was broken down into three-phases pending the required $3.5 billion in funding:

  • Phase 1: Converting the Post Office into a retail complex whose main entrance would be through the Beaux Arts-inspired lobby along Van Buren street, the remaining interior would become a parking garage, and the addition of a 40-story hotel on the east side of the building. (Approximate cost: $450 million)
  • Phase 2: Building an additional 60-story hotel west of the Post Office and a 120-story, 2,000-foot (610 m) office, hotel, and residential tower that would be the tallest in North America. (Approximate cost: $2 billion)
  • Phase 3: Two residential towers built on the east side of the Chicago River diagonally southeast from the proposed 120-story skyscraper plus a 12,000-space parking garage. (Approximate cost: $1 billion)

The whole $3.5 billion plan was submitted to the Chicago City Council and the Planning Commission for approval the same day it was released to the public. Only funding for Phase 1 has been secured as of July 21, 2011.[16] [17]


  1. ^ 02:24 PM. "SkyscraperPage Forum". Forum.skyscraperpage.com. Retrieved 2010-07-10. 
  2. ^ "Publication 100 - The United States Postal Service An American History 1775-2006" (PDF). Retrieved 2010-07-10. 
  3. ^ a b National Register of Historic Places - Illinois Retrieved on August 27, 2009.
  4. ^ "GAO-06-248T Federal Real Property: Excess and Underutilized Property Is an Ongoing Problem" (PDF). Retrieved 2010-07-10. 
  5. ^ Batman Begins (2005) - Filming locations
  6. ^ The Dark Knight (2008) - Filming locations
  7. ^ [1][dead link]
  8. ^ "Chicago Entertainment News, Local Celeb Gossip | NBC Chicago". Nbc5.com. Retrieved 2010-07-10. 
  9. ^ http://www.wbbm780.com/pages/365570.php?contentType=4&contentId=421511
  10. ^ Transformers Live Action Movie Blog Retrieved on July 25, 2011.
  11. ^ "Let the bidding begin ...". Chicago Tribune. 2009-08-27. Retrieved 2010-07-10. 
  12. ^ Lutz, Bj. "Why So Seriously Expensive?". NBC Chicago. Retrieved 2010-07-10. 
  13. ^ Bartosik, Matt (2009-09-10). "Post Office Buyer May Not Deliver". NBC Chicago. Retrieved 2010-07-10. 
  14. ^ David Roeder. "High bidder defaults on deal to buy old Chicago Post Office". Chicago Sun-Times. October 14, 2009. Retrieved on October 15, 2009.
  15. ^ David Roeder. "Brit gets discount on old post office". Chicago Sun-Times. October 22, 2009. Retrieved on October 22, 2009.
  16. ^ Chicago Tribune Retrieved on July 25, 2011.
  17. ^ Chicago Sun-Times Retrieved on July 25, 2011.

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