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Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Roman Goddesses and Native Americans at the Chicago Board of Trade

Now that I'm back home from Kentucky we can continue admiring the architecture of Chicago from my recent train trip in to the city.  The Chicago Board of Trade was completed in 1930 and is 45 stories of Indiana gray limestone.

The clock over the LaSalle Street entrance is 14 feet in diameter

If you recognize the Art Deco building, maybe it's because it has been featured in a few films like "Ferris Bueler's Day Off", "Batman Begins" and "The Dark Knight" which happens to be in my DVR as we speak so I'll be keeping a lookout for it when I get around to watching it. The building is so massive in scale that I just took a picture of the framed prints inside instead of failing to do it justice with my own camera.

At right stands "Ceres" 6,500 pounds of aluminum sculpture atop the CBOT

Chicago sat on the edge of the prairie and it was the center of grain distribution and trading since the 1840s.  The railroads arrived in 1848 and the Illinois and Michigan Canal also opened, making distribution of materials more efficient.  By 1860 Illinois was the largest producer of corn and wheat, which is shown in the decoration both inside and outside the building.  Illinois is now the largest machinery manufacturer in the nation though that does include farm equipment so I suppose there is a continuity there if you think about it.

corn and wheat

The building was commissioned for the Chicago Board of Trade but of course other tenants also occupied the building and The Quaker Oats Company were the first to do so.  Even though the building was completed during the Depression, Art Deco as a style is all about the machine age and excitement about the future instead of looking back to classical architectural styles.  I was so excited about the architectural detail in the lobby that I dropped my gloves and a helpful employee had to point it out to me!

Through the lobby doors

The lobby underwent restoration efforts in 2005 and they did a fantastic job on the mailboxes and elevators.  The chutes go up for 40 stories but are of course only for looks these days.

beautiful wheat design

Ceres was a Roman goddess of agriculture, grain crops, fertility and motherly relationships and is also immortalized in a three story mural which was stored for many years but underwent restoration and was then displayed in the building addition added in the 1980's.  Hopefully I'll get to see that when I return!

Ceres on a pillar

It turns out that there are literally other sides to the building that I missed including a plaza with the statues that were removed from the old Board of Trade.  Another day, another time.

Native American holding corn


  1. Beautiful artwork and imagine how many people walk by it every day without even seeing it.

  2. Beautiful artwork and imagine how many people walk by it every day without even seeing it.