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Chicago: Lost and Found

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Chicago: Lost and Found, curated by Catalog & Reference Librarian Laurie Chipps of the Ryerson & Burnham Libraries at the Art Institute, highlights dozens of buildings throughout Chicago’s history which have been either demolished, rebuilt, or reused. On view now through June 14 in the Ryerson & Burnham Libraries Reading Room, the exhibition is comprised of several cases full of colored and black and white photos, hand drawn floor plans, vintage postcards, newsletters, and building brochures featuring the city’s lost restaurants, hotels, hospitals, homes, churches, and industrial and commercial buildings.

Upon entering the exhibition, visitors are greeted by a photograph of an aerial view of the Loop dated 1871. It features W.W. Boyington’s Interstate Exposition Building, which occupied the elegant locale that, in 1893, was replaced by the Art Institute itself! If the lake looks a little off, that’s because it stands a half-mile west of its current location in this picture, which was taken before the city used landfill to expand eastward into Lake Michigan.

Other highlights of the show include a postcard of Henrici’s Restaurant, demolished in 1962 to make way for the Richard J. Daley Center. Henrici’s was "Chicago's most famous restaurant,” and served up German fare to over 500 diners at a time. Another postcard of the LaSalle Street Station shows what was once one of the only train stations to also be considered a skyscraper thanks to the twelve stories of offices above it. Demolished in 1981, it’s now the site of One Financial Place. A rare trio of lanternslides depicts land and buildings along Congress Parkway that were removed prior to construction of the Eisenhower Expressway.

The buildings from Chicago: Lost and Found have met a whole host of fates. The Pilgrim Baptist Church, often considered the birthplace of gospel music, suffered an unfortunate fire in 2006 in the midst of restorations. Now only its structurally sound, exterior stone walls remain. The Brach’s Candy Factory, formerly home to one of the country’s largest candy manufacturers and employing up to 4,500 people in a 23-acre building complex that included a roof-top garden, tennis courts, clubrooms, and a library, is currently vacant and derelict. For the former Sears, Roebuck and Company Complex however, there’s a silver lining—or rather a gold one! While largely demolished back in 1995, the conversion of its powerhouse into the Henry Ford Academy: Power House High School received a LEED gold rating in 2009 from the U.S. Green Building Council.

From the history buff to the post card aficionado to the true blue city resident curious about sweet home Chicago, there’s something for everyone in the archival collections of the Ryerson & Burnham Libraries showcased in Chicago: Lost and Found.

—Thea N., Senior Cataloging Assistant, Ryerson & Burnham Libraries

Richard Knisely Store and Flats, 2147 W. Lake Street, demolished 1958. Photograph by Richard Nickel.