A couple weeks ago I was up in the Reid, Murdoch & Co. Building to view the Sox Victory Parade & Rally. What I didn’t show much of was the actual building and clock tower I was in. That, in itself, was pretty impressive and a real treat to experience, since normally people aren’t allowed up there. It seemed like something that would be in Open House New York.. if we had that sort of thing here.. but we don’t. Too bad for us.
After digging around a bit I found out that the building was constructed in 1914 and was designed by George C. Nimmons, who followed Daniel H. Burnham‘s Plan of Chicago. In the plan, developers were asked to consider the Chicago River front as a locale for new businesses because of the river’s aesthetic and commercial potential.
The building was originally built as a food processing company and warehouse. In this old photo, you can see that below the clock there used to be signs that said “Finer Foods.” The clock tower was originally a water tower that supplied the sprinkler system in the building. (Check out these photos of the building before the clock was in place.)
In 1915, the Eastland ocean-liner capsized and killed 812 people right across the river from the Ried Murdoch building, which was then used as a makeshift hospital and rescue center. (Check out these gnarly crash photos). Since the Ried Murdoch building was also temporary used as a morgue, some people say that it’s haunted and that “shortly after the accident pedestrians reported hearing cries of horror near the banks of the river.”
One more interesting historical tidbit: In 1926 LaSalle Street was widened and part of the west side of the building was taken off.
In 1955, the city of Chicago bought the Reid Murdoch building to use as municipal traffic court, to house the State Attorney’s Office, and for several other city departments. It was still used as traffic court til 1998 when Friedman Properties was selected to redevelop the building. On November 15, 1976, the city of Chicago gave the Reid Murdoch building landmark status. Today the building is almost all offices. On the first floor overlooking the river, is a restaurant that used to be Bob Chinn’s and is now Fulton’s on the River.