Will you take a look at this gargantuan structure! As difficult as it is to believe, what you are seeing is actually one building. The, “Merchandise Mart” was built in 1930 with a whopping 4,000,000 square feet of space. At the time, the Merchandise Mart was the largest building on the planet. The owner of the building was Marshall Field & Co.; however, the Kennedy family (yes, the JFK family) were the proprietors of the Merchandise Mart for over fifty years, having purchased the building in 1945. The building was originally used to store household products for department store buyers.
Wholesale showrooms now occupy about 50% of the floor space in the entire building. Some showrooms are open to the public, while others are restricted to wholesale buyers. The other 50% includes retail shops, a post office, and a Holiday Inn (no kidding)! Let’s see, who else hangs their proverbial hat at, “The Mart”; Chicago Sun-Times Newspaper, and the Chicago campus of the Illinois Institute of Art. Radio and television stations have also set up shop in the Merchandise Mart. Why, even the Chicago Transit Authority’s “L-Train” system has a, “Merchandise Mart” train station!
This building is so large that until 2008 it had its own zip code (postal code, post code); oh, and then it had to share its unique code with the surrounding area. There are 4,000 windows in this building. The Merchandise Mart receives approximately 20,000 visitors per day. Now, if you are thinking what I am thinking, this would lend itself (literally) very well to having one out of ever five visitors clean a window! Or, everyone can clean a window, providing extra-sparkly glass five times per day! Now that I mention it, wouldn’t that make an interesting photo op?
Upon arrival at the Merchandise Mart, please grab a cloth, window cleaner, and make your way to a window; you have 4,000 to choose from, so there’s no need to negotiate a space!
I have it on reliable authority (okay, I don’t really, but I heard it on the streets) that some of the Kennedy brothers used to throw around the ‘ol football on occasion atop of the Merchandise Mart!
Ah yes, I almost forgot to mention something. The photo at the top of this post was taken last weekend while I was on an architectural boat tour meandering down the Chicago River. So as not to end up in the drink, I didn’t stand up when taking my shot; therefore, the heads in the photo are not part of the Merchandise Mart experience; please ignore them while viewing the photo! *grin*