Motor Row District

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Motor Row Historic District
Motor Row Historic District K Chicago IL.jpg
LocationChicago, Illinois
Coordinates41°51′10″N 87°37′26″W / 41.85278°N 87.62389°W / 41.85278; -87.62389Coordinates: 41°51′10″N 87°37′26″W / 41.85278°N 87.62389°W / 41.85278; -87.62389
Area28 acres (11 ha)
Architectural styleEarly Commercial, Mission/Spanish Revival
MPSMotor Row, Chicago, Illinois MPS
NRHP reference #02001387[1]
Significant dates
Added to NRHP2002
Designated CLDecember 13, 2000

The Motor Row District is a historic district in Chicago's Near South Side community area. Motor Row includes buildings on Michigan Avenue between 2200 and 2500 south, directly west of McCormick Place convention center, and 1444, 1454, 1737, 1925, 2000 S. Michigan Ave., as well as 2246-3453 S. Indiana Ave., and 2211-47 S. Wabash Ave.[2] The district was built between 1905 and 1936 by a number of notable architects.

Auto rows developed in numerous US cities shortly after 1900 as car companies sought to create districts where the sale and repair of cars could become an easy urban shopping experience. At its peak, as many as 116 different makes of automobiles were sold and repaired on Motor Row. Current-day marques that formerly had showrooms on Motor Row included Ford, Buick, Fiat, and Cadillac. Other marques with showrooms there that have since dissolved include Hudson, Locomobile, Marmon, and Pierce-Arrow. Currently, only one car dealer (Fiat/Alfa Romeo) still stands in Motor Row while the remaining buildings have been or are being redeveloped into condominiums, nightclubs, and retail storefronts.


The range of buildings in Motor Row illustrates the evolution of the automobile showroom and related product and service buildings, from simple two-story structures used for display and offices to multi-story buildings housing a variety of departments for the repair, storage, painting, and finishing of automobiles. Many of the buildings were designed by significant architects, including Holabird & Roche, Alfred Alschuler, Philip Maher, Albert Kahn, and Christian Eckstorm. The overall design highlights elaborately carved stone work, ornate facades and intricately scrolled ironwork that decorates recessed automotive doorways.

Though characterized by its auto showrooms, Motor Row was also home to newspaper The Chicago Defender, a newspaper voice for Chicago's large African American community. Chess Records was also located in Motor Row and acts such as Muddy Waters, The Rolling Stones, Willie Dixon and many other blues artists recorded there. Currently Fearless Radio is located in Motor Row on the 24th block of Michigan.

Motor Row was designated a Chicago Landmark on December 13, 2000.[2] It was added to the National Register of Historic Places on November 18, 2002.[1]


In recent years, Motor Row has been undergoing a transformation into a music and entertainment district.[3] Motor Row Brewing [4](formerly known as Broad Shoulders Brewery) opened in the district in January 2015.[5][6] Riff Music Lounge opened in the district in 2013.[7]

In 2011-2012, local officials attempted to lure a Cheap Trick-themed restaurant, music venue and museum to the district; however, this deal fell through in 2013.[8][9][10][11]



  1. ^ a b National Park Service (2010-07-09). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.
  2. ^ a b "Motor Row District". City of Chicago Department of Planning and Development, Landmarks Division. 2003. Retrieved 2010-11-15.
  3. ^ Motor Row revival plans shift into gear - Chicago Tribune - September 30, 2012.
  4. ^
  5. ^ Brewery headed for Motor Row - Chicago Sun-Times - June 22, 2011.
  6. ^ Broad Shoulders Brewery Coming to Motor Row; Plans for Summer Opening - Sloopin - December 29, 2011.
  7. ^ Riff Music Lounge Looks To Fulfill Your Dancing Desires - Sloopin - November 18, 2013.
  8. ^ Cheap Trick Eyes Record Row for museum, concert venue - Chicago Sun-Times - October 4, 2011.
  9. ^ City Council moves to transform 'Motor Row' into 'Music Row' - Chicago Sun-Times - September 1, 2011.
  10. ^ Cheap Trick team reveals big plans for Motor Row - Chicago Sun-Times - July 6, 2012.
  11. ^ Motor Row developer loses Cheap Trick club, dinner theater - Alison Burdo, Chicago Real Estate Daily - March 13, 2013.

Further reading[edit]