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Eric Bronsky, Neal Samors
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Today's North Michigan Avenue, also known throughout the world as "The Magnificent Mile," traces its early history to 1837 when the City of Chicago was first incorporated. It is difficult to imagine that today's famous avenue with shopping malls, skyscrapers, entertainment venues, and world class hotels was once a dirt road with a few wooden houses as part of the Fort Dearborn Addition. As the city expanded, there was the growing need to have bridges built across the Chicago River to move people and produce into the city. The first iron bridge was constructed at Rush Street and the river, but that was destroyed by a cattle stampede.The wooden replacement perished in the Great Fire of 1871, with a final bridge going up in 1884. The famous Water Tower and Pumping Station went up in the late 1860s and survived the fire, while many of the new homes and mansions, as well as the Fourth Presbyterian Church were destroyed in that conflagration. The street which would become North Michigan Avenue was first named Pine Street/Lincoln Parkway and didn't assume its famous name until May, 1920 when the new Michigan Avenue Bridge officially opened.
The Fourth Presbyterian Church was built in 1914, and beginning in the 1920s, the majestic boulevard witnessed the construction of such Chicago icons as Tribune Tower, the Wrigley Building, the Allerton Hotel, the Palmolive Building with the Lindbergh Beacon, and the Drake Hotel mixed in with numerous low rise and mid rise buildings. The building boom continued until the Great Depression and World War II when construction came to a halt. But, starting again in the 1950s with the construction of the Prudential Building further south at Randolph, everything along the Avenue began to change. By the '60s and '70s, undeveloped lots were being quickly filled in with such majestic structures as the John Hancock Building and Water Tower Place, followed by the 900 N. and 600 N. Michigan Avenue vertical malls as well as the introduction of premier hotels and restaurants.
To the east, in the neighborhood known as Streeterville, Northwestern Memorial Hospital and Northwestern University expanded greatly as the area took on its own unique identity. Rush Street, to the west, and Oak Street, which abutted the lake, experienced significant changes with the addition of movie theaters, entertainment venues, restaurants and condominiums. Today, the area that has become known as the Greater North Michigan Avenue District is a major attraction in a world class city where visitors increasingly come to discover why Chicago is such a special place. The authors of this book, The Rise of the Magnificent Mile, provide the reader with a collection of vibrant, personal stories behind the development of the area. Those remembrances are skillfully blended with a wide range of black and white and color photographs to fill in historic details by using a "then and now" format that serve to describe a forever changing North Michigan Avenue.
Book Publisher: Chicago's Books Press
No. of Pages: 256