Merchandise Mart, Chicago

“World’s largest business building, located between Wells and Orleans Streets. Total cost $30,000,000.”

Chicago’s Merchandise Mart was built by Marshall Field & Co. and officially opened in 1930 for business as a national wholesale center. Today, the mart is part of Merchandise Mart Properties Inc. with 15 properties and over 300 trade shows, conferences, conventions, and special events every year.

As far as building the mart went, “cement, arriving by boat, was shot by compressed air 75 feet up to mammoth bins. Gravel and sand were delivered by bottom dumping railroad cars to another bin. Conveyors and elevators transferred these ingredients to giant mixers. The wet concrete was then elevated by skip hoists in vertical towers that were extended as the building rose. The construction project, which lasted a year and a half through the first months of the Depression, employed 2,500 men through its duration and as many as 5,700 men altogether.”

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