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Marshall Field and Company Building

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This article is about the flagship store location. For the Oak Park Marshall Field Store Building, see Marshall Field and Company Store.
Marshall Field and Company Building
20080602 Marshall Field & Company Building.JPG
Marshall Field and Company Building
Marshall Field and Company Building is located in Chicago Loop
Marshall Field and Company Building
Marshall Field and Company Building is located in Chicago
Marshall Field and Company Building
Marshall Field and Company Building is located in Greater Chicago
Marshall Field and Company Building
Marshall Field and Company Building is located in Illinois
Marshall Field and Company Building
Marshall Field and Company Building is located in USA
Marshall Field and Company Building
Location 111 North State Street
Chicago, Illinois
 United States
Coordinates 41°53′1.31″N 87°37′37.09″W / 41.8836972°N 87.6269694°W / 41.8836972; -87.6269694Coordinates: 41°53′1.31″N 87°37′37.09″W / 41.8836972°N 87.6269694°W / 41.8836972; -87.6269694
Built 1892
Architect Burnham, Daniel H.
Architectural style Chicago, Other
Governing body Macy's
NRHP Reference # 78001123
Significant dates
Added to NRHP June 2, 1978[1]
Designated NHL June 2, 1978[2]
Designated CL November 1, 2005

Marshall Field and Company Building or Macy's at State Street, in Chicago, Illinois, was the flagship location of the Marshall Field's chain of department stores and, since 2006, is the main Chicago location of the Macy's chain. The building is located in the Chicago Loop community area in Cook County, Illinois, United States, and it takes up the entire city block bounded clockwise from the west by North State Street, East Randolph Street, North Wabash Avenue, and East Washington Street.[3] Marshall Field's established numerous important business firsts in this building,[4] and it is regarded as one of the three most influential establishments in the nationwide development of the department store.[5] Both the building name and the name of the stores formerly headquartered at this building changed names on September 9, 2006 as a result of the merger of the May Department Stores (Marshall Field's former parent) with the Federated Department Stores which led to the integration of the Marshall Field's stores into the Macy's retailing network.[6]

The building, which is the second largest store in the world,[7] was both declared a National Historic Landmark and listed on the National Register of Historic Places on June 2, 1978,[2][1][8] and it was designated a Chicago Landmark on November 1, 2005.[9] The building architecture is known for its multiple atria and for having been built in stages over the course of more than two decades.[10] Its ornamentation includes a Tiffany & Co. mosaic ceiling and a pair of well-known outdoor clocks, which serve as symbols of the store.[10]

Business history[edit]

Main article: Marshall Field's
Marshall Field (left) and Potter Palmer (right) were instrumental in the Marshall Field's move to anchor the Loop Retail Historic District at State Street and Washington Street.
Sequence of State & Washington Street corner perspectives
Marshall Field and Company Building location (red square) in Chicago's Loop community area

Although the official corporate name of the retail entity based in this building had been Marshall Field & Company (nicknamed Marshall Field's) from 1881 until 2006, the store has had five different names since its inception in 1852 as P. Palmer & Co.[11] In 1868, after bowing out of involvement in day-to-day operations with his new partners of Field, Palmer & Leiter, Potter Palmer convinced Marshall Field and Levi Leiter to move the Field, Leiter & Co. store to a building Palmer owned on State Street at the corner of Washington Street.[12] After being consumed by the Great Chicago Fire and splitting the wholesale business from the retail operations, the store resumed operations at State and Washington in a building leased from the Singer Sewing Machine Company. In 1877 another fire consumed this building, and when a new Singer Building was built to replace it at the same location in 1879, Field purchased it. The business has remained there ever since, and it has added four subsequent buildings to form the integrated structure that is now called the Marshall Field and Company Building.[11][12]

Chicago's retailing center was State Street in the downtown Loop after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, and this center has been anchored by Marshall Field's and its predecessor companies in this building.[13] However, commuter suburbs began to have significant retail districts by the 1920s.[13] In the 1920s, the store created new suburban locations such as Marshall Field and Company Store to remain competitive.[5] After 1950, suburban development and the Magnificent Mile reduced the role of the Loop's daily significance to many Chicagoans as downtown retail sales slipped.[14] Eventually, there was an influx of stores from other parts of the country.[5] Nonetheless, the Marshall Field and Company Building has survived at this location. However, with the conversion to Macy's the emphasis of the store changed and store branded lines replaced many designer labels, such as Dolce & Gabbana, Prada, Miu Miu and Jimmy Choo, which led to the disassembly of several designer departments (see picture below).[15]

On September 9, 2006, at the time of the store conversion, the name of the building was officially changed to "Macy's at State Street."[16] Around the time of the conversion of Marshall Field's to Macy's the building was the location of picketing and protesting by opponents of the conversion.[17][18] After buying out his various partners, Marshall Field founded the Marshall Field & Company corporate entity that survived 152 years and had this building constructed. The sentimental objections to the conversion that both eliminated the existence of the corporate entity bearing his name and renamed the building bearing his name were widely reported in the national media.[19][20]

A remaining Marshall Field's nameplate (2006)

Business legend[edit]

The store housed a business that established new retailing standards and broke many retailing conventions of the day.[21] The company quickly became successful, and by the 1880s it was one of the three largest retailers in the country. Before Marshall Field's death in 1906, his company became the largest wholesale and retail dry goods enterprise in the world.[4] The Marshall Field's & Company offered the first bridal registry, provided the first in-store dining facilities and established the first European buying office.[4][22] The former store also was the first to provide Personal shopping assistants.[5] In the early 1900s, annual sales topped $60 million,[23] and buying branches were located in New York City, London, Paris, Tokyo, Stockholm and Berlin.[4]

The building has three atria including the 5-story Tiffany & Co. mosaic-capped ceiling one (left, 1910) in the southwest corner. On the right notice the construction stages evidenced by exterior differences.

The building has hosted the first escalators in a department store and continues to be the second largest store in the world.[7] Marshall Field took over the operations of the store in 1881 and became the first merchant to post the price of the goods in plain sight, which eliminated the common practice of haggling and charging whatever the buyer would pay.[4] On top of that, Field stood behind his product with his famous slogan that symbolized his willingness to refund the full price of all merchandise (a policy inherited from Potter Palmer)[24] purchased in his store:

Building details[edit]

Entrance with Holiday decorations and automobiles parked along State Street
Tiffany Studios glass mosaic ceiling.
Tea Room
1905 building

The 12-story granite building was constructed in stages between 1892 and 1914 on a partitioned block with sections that were added to the building in 1902, 1906, 1907, and 1914.[10][11][17] Although he died before they were constructed, Charles B. Atwood of D. H. Burnham & Company designed the two primary sections along State Street (The north building built in 1902 and the south in 1907).[25] For a time, the building was the largest store in the world at 73 acres (300,000 m2) of floorspace, with the largest book, china, shoe, and toy departments of all the world's department stores.[22]

The current building has several atria: A Tiffany Studios mosaic dome caps a 5-story atrium in the southwest corner; the northwest section has a 13-story skylit atrium, and a newer atrium with a fountain in the center is bridged by double escalator banks.[10] The Tiffany Dome is over 6,000 square feet (560 m2),[5] and it is the first iridescent glass dome and it continues to be the largest glass mosaic of its kind.[4] Only Egypt's 3,000-year-old Temple of Karnak, with its 70-foot (21 m) columns rivals the four 50-foot (15 m) Ionic granite columns on the State Street façade.[11]

Marshall Field and Company Building behind Block 37 construction

The building is known for its clocks, which weigh about 7.5 short tons (6.7 long tons) each,[11] on its northwest and southwest corners along State Street at both Randolph and Washington.[10][25] The southwest clock, known as the Great Clock, was installed on November 26, 1897. Marshall Field envisioned the clock as a beacon for his store which he viewed as a meeting place. The clock was installed after the southwest corner of the store had become a popular meeting place and people began leaving notes for one another on the Marshall Field's windows. The clock was an attempt to end this practice, and encourage punctuality.[11]

Today, the building is located at 111 North State Street within the Loop Retail Historic District of the Chicago Loop across State Street from Block 37, across Randolph Street from the Joffrey Tower, and across Wabash Avenue from The Heritage at Millennium Park.[3] An underground public concourse connects the basement to 25 East Washington, which formerly housed the Marshall Field's Men's Store.[10] The building is a major hub of the Chicago Pedway.

Traditions and popular culture[edit]

A Marshall Field's Great Clock

The building has several Christmas traditions: it is known as the former production site of Frango and for the Walnut Room Christmas tree. It also hosts an ornate window display at the street level. The window display includes thirteen themed windows along State Street that in recent years have displayed the unfolding of stories of Snow White, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Paddington Bear, The Night Before Christmas, Harry Potter, and Cinderella.[26] Annually a three-story tall Christmas tree is brought in for the holiday season.[10] In an effort to quell opposition to the conversion, Macy's made a formal statement of its intent to continue the traditions of a 45-foot (13.716 m) Christmas tree, a seventh floor Frango viewing kitchen, and animated holiday window displays.[16][27]

On November 3, 1945, Norman Rockwell drew a picture of one of the Marshall Field Building clocks on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post.[4] The Rockwell painting shows a man perched atop a ladder and adjusting one of the Marshall Field's clock to correspond with his own pocket watch. The Oriental Theatre in the background proves this depicts the matching Great Clock at the northwest corner of the building at State & Randolph. In 1948, Rockwell donated the original painting, The Clock Mender, to the store, where it had hung on the seventh floor ever since. After Target Corporation sold Field's to May Department Stores, which merged with Federated Department Stores in 2005, the Federated discovered a reproduction on display.[28][29] Federated removed the fake and asked Target to return the original.[11] The painting has been donated to the Chicago Historical Society,[30] which had from February 26, 2000–May 21, 2000 been the second stop of the seven-city national Pictures for the American People tour of the first comprehensive Rockwell career exhibition that had been organized by the High Museum of Art and the Norman Rockwell Museum and that had also visited the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Corcoran Gallery of Art, San Diego Museum of Art and Phoenix Art Museum.[31][32][33]

In John Dos Passos' novel The 42nd Parallel (1930), character Eric Egstrom is employed at this building. G. K. Chesterton and Sinclair Lewis met in the building's book department, which resulted in their collaboration on the unpublished play Mary Queen of Scotch.[10]



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  2. ^ a b "Marshall Field Company Store". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. Retrieved 2008-03-09. 
  3. ^ a b "National Historic Landmarks in the Chicago Metropolitan Area". Electronic Encyclopedia of Chicago. Chicago Historical Society. 2005. Retrieved 2008-03-01. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g "Marshall Field's". 2008-02-09. Retrieved 2008-04-03. 
  5. ^ a b c d e Brune, Jeffrey A. (2005). "Department Stores". Electronic Encyclopedia of Chicago. Chicago Historical Society. Retrieved 2008-04-10. 
  6. ^ "Federated Announces Strategic Decisions to Integrate May Company Acquisition; Company to Focus on Building the Macy's and Bloomingdale's Brands While Increasing Profitability". Business Wire. CNET Networks, Inc. 2005-09-20. Retrieved 2008-04-05. 
  7. ^ a b Hieggelke, Brian (2005-12-06). "Requiem for a Dream". Newcity Communications, Inc. Retrieved 2008-03-02. 
  8. ^ Ralph J. Christian (March 1977). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination: Marshall Field & Company Store" (PDF). National Park Service.  and Accompanying six photos, exterior and interior, from 1960 and undated PDF (1.21 MB)
  9. ^ "CHICAGO LANDMARKS: Individual Landmarks and Landmark Districts designated as of January 1, 2008" (PDF). Commission on Chicago Landmarks. 2008-01-01. Retrieved 2009-05-03. 
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h "Macy's at State Street". Retrieved 2008-03-01. 
  11. ^ a b c d e f g Johnson, Geoffrey (September 2006). "The Annotated: Marshall Field's". Chicago Magazine. Retrieved 2008-04-03. 
  12. ^ a b "Marshall Field and Company". Jazz Age Chicago. Scott A. Newman. 2006-05-11. Retrieved 2008-03-02. 
  13. ^ a b Bennett, Larry (2005). "Shopping Districts and Malls". The Electronic Encyclopedia of Chicago. Chicago Historical Society. Retrieved 2008-03-02. 
  14. ^ Danzer, Gerald A. (2005). "The Loop". The Electronic Encyclopedia of Chicago. Chicago Historical Society. Retrieved 2008-03-02. 
  15. ^ Jones, Sandra (2006-09-08). "House brands heavy at Macy's". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2008-04-10. 
  16. ^ a b "Macy's Unveils Extensive Plans for State Street Flagship Store; Retailer Plans Series of Enhancements for Legendary Department Store in Chicago". Macy's North. 2006-04-27. Archived from the original on September 28, 2007. Retrieved 2008-03-02. 
  17. ^ a b "Protesters Mourn Marshall Field's End". CBS Broadcasting, Inc. 2006-09-09. Retrieved 2008-03-01. [dead link]
  18. ^ Jones, Sandra (2006-09-05). "Hard-core fans stay loyal to brand". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2008-04-11. [dead link]
  19. ^ Heriot, Gail (2006-06-17). "Give the Lady What She Wants" (PDF). Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2008-03-01. [dead link]
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  21. ^ Wilson, Mark R. (2005). "Farwell (John V.) & Co". Electronic Encyclopedia of Chicago. Chicago Historical Society. Retrieved 2008-04-10. 
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  23. ^ Wilson, Mark R. (2005). "Field (Marshall) & Co". Electronic Encyclopedia of Chicago. Chicago Historical Society. Retrieved 2008-04-10. 
  24. ^ a b Cain, Louis P. (2005). "Innovation, Invention, and Chicago Business". Electronic Encyclopedia of Chicago. Chicago Historical Society. Retrieved 2008-04-10. 
  25. ^ a b "Marshall Field & Company Store, c.1904-1913". The Electronic Encyclopedia of Chicago. Chicago Historical Society. 2005. Retrieved 2008-03-02. 
  26. ^ Runice, Jackie. "Marshall Field's State Street Holiday Window Display". AOL, LLC. Retrieved 2008-03-01. 
  27. ^ "Federated Reveals Plans For Flagship Marshall Field's On State Street". Nielsen Business Media, Inc./, Inc. 2006-05-01. Retrieved 2008-03-02. [dead link]
  28. ^ Aronovich, Hannah (2006-04-20). "Field's, Federated and More Feuds". Gothamist LLC. Retrieved 2008-04-04. 
  29. ^ "Norman Rockwell Of Field's Store Goes Missing". 2006-04-21. Retrieved 2008-04-04. 
  30. ^ "Time heals rift over a Rockwell: Tiff between 2 retail chains comes to an end with the donation of the painting 'The Clock Mender' to the Chicago History Museum". Chicago Tribune. McClatchy-Tribune Business News. 2006-09-27. Retrieved 2008-04-04. 
  31. ^ Hennessey, Maureen Hart and Anne Knutson (1999). Morris, Kelly, ed. Norman Rockwell: Pictures for the American People. Harry N. Abrams, Incorporated. p. 4. ISBN 0-8109-6392-2. 
  32. ^ "Norman Rockwell: Pictures for the American People". Traditional Fine Art Online, Inc/Chicago Historical Society. Retrieved 2008-04-07. 
  33. ^ Van Gelder, Lawrence (2000-06-12). "This Week". The New York Times (The New York Times Company). Retrieved 2008-04-08. 

External links[edit]