5414 N. Sheridan Road, Chicago. Park Tower Condominium is on the lakefront next to north Lake Shore Drive and across from Foster Beach in Lincoln Park. Constructed in 1973 by Solomon, Cordwell, Buenz (SCB), a Chicago architectural firm founded in 1931, the tower was planned as the first of three towers in a triangular formation but the others did not materialize.
At 55 stories tall (513 feet high), Park Tower Condominium is one of the tallest structures in Chicago outside the downtown area. It is the tallest structure between downtown and Foster Beach. It is one of the largest all-residential buildings in the city. Originally built as luxury rental apartments, the building became condos in 1979. The photograph was taken on August 7, 2015 in Lincoln Park.
In the Edgewater neighborhood, Park Tower Condominium is one of three residential towers in Chicago with black Miesian windows and three rounded lobes. The others are Lake Point Tower (505 North Lake Shore Drive) and Harbor Point (155 North Harbor Drive).
The Mentor Building, 39 S. State Street (6 E. Monroe Street), 1906, Howard Van Doren Shaw (1869-1926).
A Mentor building has stood on this northeast corner of State and Monroe since 1873 when there was a 7-story building erected here.1
Shaw’s only skyscraper presents an unusual mixture of styles. There are windows grouped in horizontal bands between a four-level base of large showroom windows. The top is classically inspired and details are strong and idiosyncratic. The building retains the character of classical sources though used as large-scale motifs.2
Shaw’s 1906 building is 17 stories high with two basements on rock caissons.3
The photograph was taken on July 5, 2015.
1 Frank A. Randall, History of Development of Building Construction in Chicago, Second Edition, Revised and Expanded by John D. Randall, University of Illinois Press, Urbana and Chicago, 1999, p, 196.
2 Alice Sinkevitch, AIA Guide to Chicago, 2nd Edition, Harcourt, Inc., Orlando, 2004, p. 59.
Jerry Peart (b. 1948, American), Wildflower, Sinnissippi Gardens, Rockford, Illinois, in July 2017. The 20-foot painted aluminum sculpture in a fountain setting stands near the entrance of the Nicholas Conservatory & Gardens along the Rock River. The Conservatory, which opened in October 2011, offers a main exhibition house, greenhouses, classrooms, a roof garden, a lagoon, walking trails, outdoor gardens, and more. Peart, a Chicago-based artist who has created over 35 large-scale public sculptures according to his website https://www.sedgwickstudiochicago.com/jerry-peart, created Wildflower in part because he was inspired by this place in the Midwest dedicated to all things clean and green.
Bob Mangold (b. 1930, American), Anemotive Kinetic, Sinnissippi Gardens, Rockford, Illinois, in July 2017. As a kinetic (movement) artist, Mangold’s sculptures explore concepts of space and motion. In 1962, Mangold began his Anemotive series of spherical, wind-propelled kinetic sculptures. As with this work, the anemotives are characterized by cup-like shapes mounted on arms which allow for motion.
Chicago Harbor Lighthouse (1893), Chicago, Illinois, 2017.
Known as the “Chicago Light,” the Chicago Harbor Lighthouse is an active automated lighthouse dating from 1893.
About one-half mile beyond Navy Pier, the lighthouse stands at the north of the main entrance of the Chicago Harbor in Lake Michigan. The lighthouse has had a significant role in the development of Chicago and the American Midwest and remains an active aid to nautical navigation today.
For more than a century, the U.S. Coast Guard has staffed this lighthouse at the breakwater outside the Chicago Harbor Lock. The lock separates Lake Michigan from the mouth of the Chicago River.
The lock was built in the mid-1930’s and is operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The lock is one of the entrances into the Illinois Waterway system at the Great Lakes. The waterway system is a commercial and recreational shipping connection to the Gulf of Mexico by way of the Illinois and Mississippi rivers.
The “Chicago Light” is at that waterway system’s headwaters as it stands in the outer harbor constructed in 1880. The Chicago Light’s conical tower dates from 1893. Twenty-five years later, in 1918, the tower was reconstructed and the base building which contains a fog-signal room and boathouse was added. The architects are not identified.
Through its breakwaters, the main entrance into Chicago Harbor is 580 feet wide. The Chicago Harbor Lighthouse was designated a Chicago Landmark on April 9, 2003. It is the only surviving lighthouse in Chicago and one of two remaining examples in the state of Illinois.
The mouth of the Chicago River at Lake Michigan in Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A. About one mile ahead, the Chicago Harbor Lock, built in the 1930’s, provides the entrance/exit of the Illinois Waterway system at the Great Lakes. The waterway system is a commercial and recreational shipping connection from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico by way of the Illinois and Mississippi rivers.
Built in 1914 by Ketler-Elliot Erection Company of Chicago, the Chicago Avenue Bridge was one of the oldest pony truss bascule bridges in Chicago. Connecting River North and River West, the steel bridge was, after 104 years, demolished in 2018 and replaced, in 2019, by a temporary bridge. A new, permanent immovable concrete bridge is expected to open over the Chicago River in this location in 2021.
The expanse of the Chicago Avenue Bridge over the North Branch of the Chicago River near Goose Island. The bridge with its steel beam pony truss was built in 1914 and demolished in 2018. The bridge was replaced by a temporary crossing in 2019.
A pony truss bridge is a steel truss bridge that allows traffic over and through the truss, but with no cross brace across the top connecting its two sides. The truss bridge assembly of the Chicago Avenue Bridge was made of riveted steel beams—a witness to the early 20th century industrial manufacturing might of Chicago. In addition to being “Hog Butcher For The World, Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat, Player with Railroads and the Nation’s Freight Handler” as Carl Sandberg wrote in his 1914 poem, “Chicago,” published in the then-new (1912) Poetry magazine the same year the Chicago Avenue Bridge was built, Chicago was also at that time a world leader in steel production and bridge design.
In 1914 when the Chicago Avenue Bridge was first opened, Chicago was a world leader in steel production and bridge design, among many other industries that built America and the world. Chicago Mayor Carter H. Harrison, Jr. (1860-1953) served for five terms as a Democrat from 1897 to 1905 and again from 1911 to 1915, the years when the Chicago Avenue Bridge began operation.
The basic design of any bascule bridge is similar to a medieval castle drawbridge—a leaf or span that rises and descends so to permit traffic upon it—and, in the case of the Chicago Avenue Bridge, traffic also below it on the navigable—and today mainly recreational—Chicago River.
There are more than 50 movable bridges in Chicago. Single-leaf (truss) bascule bridges were constructed where the river was not very wide and often used for train traffic (Chicago is the railroad capital of the U.S.) where a single bridge deck goes up and down between abutments.
The more common double-leaf (truss) bascule bridge, which included the Chicago Avenue Bridge, consists of two leaves or spans which meet in the middle over the river. Counterweights on each side of the bridge beneath it in a river pit (or pits) balances, stabilizes and fortifies the vertical movement of the bridge deck. If the bridge deck is one leaf, the “Chicago Style” bridge rises in a piece vertically to one side of the river; if two leaves, each rise to their side of the river and descend to close again by meeting in the middle of the bridge deck.
Bascule bridges are the most commonly found moveable bridges in the world because they operate quickly and efficiently. The Chicago Avenue Bridge was operated from a companion pitched-roof bridge house with rounded corners and rows of windows clad in decorative (today oxidized green) copper. The bridge house portion of the structure was not demolished in 2018.
Looking east, a portion of the pony truss bascule Chicago Avenue Bridge before its demolition with its partially obscured bridge house in May 2016. Photograph by author.
The Chicago Avenue Bridge’s pitched-roof bridge house with its design of rounded corners and rows of windows clad in decorative (and today green oxidized) copper.
There are numerous variations and designs of the bascule bridge which in Chicago includes the trunnion (“pivot point”) bascule (“seesaw’) bridge. The nation’s first such bridge started operation in Chicago in 1902 over the north branch of the Chicago River at Cortland Street which can still be seen in operation today. The bridge design became known as the “Chicago Style” as its leaf or leaves, suspended on axles (trunnions) with massive concrete counterweights located below the bridge in the riverbank pit, opens and lifts a single or dual bridge deck to clear the river for traffic without blocking the waterway with a central pier.
Chicago’s bascule bridges—and the Chicago Avenue Bridge was one of them—were designed to its specific location. Each was designed to take on heavy loads and the attendant vibration which also included the ice and snow pack of Chicago’s winters. The design and construction into bedrock took into account wind resistance, whether the bridge leaves were open or closed, and to wind speeds of 100 miles per hour in any and all directions.
By 1920, improvements in bascule bridge design allowed for the construction of a double deck trunnion bascule bridge where car, truck and foot traffic could be carried simultaneously on its upper and lower decks. The first such double deck trunnion bascule bridge in Chicago was near the site of the old Fort Dearborn on the Chicago River at Michigan Avenue—today’s busy Michigan Avenue Bridge. In October 2010, the bridge was renamed DuSable Bridge in honor of Haitian-born Jean Baptiste Point du Sable (c.1750-1818), Chicago’s first permanent resident who established a trading settlement nearby.
Looking east from the Chicago Avenue Bridge to Chicago’s Downtown and Magnificent Mile along Lake Michigan.
Looking west from the old Chicago Avenue Bridge. A pony truss bridge is a steel truss bridge that allows traffic over and through the truss, but with no cross brace across the top connecting its two sides.
Solzman, David M., The Chicago River: An Illustrated History and Guide to the River and Its Waterways, Wild Onion Books, Chicago, 1998.
Temporary replacement bridge, Chicago Avenue at the Chicago River, 2019. The temporary bridge was installed after the Chicago Avenue Bridge, built in 1914, was demolished in 2018 after 104 years of service.
The Logan Theatre, Chicago, illinois, February 2013.
Lakefront, East Chicago, Indiana, July 2016.
Chicago (The Loop), November 2017.
Downers Grove, Illinois, July 2018.
Chicago (Michigan Avenue), August 2015.
Chicago (Michigan Avenue), May 2014.
Chicago, July 2016.
Chicago, July 2016.
Chicago, July 2016.
Chicago, September 2015.
Chicago (Navy Pier), September 2016.
Chicago, August 2015.
Chicago (West Loop/East Garfield Park), October 2016.
Chicago (Millennium Monument), September 2016.
Chicago, Mount Pisgah Missionary Baptist Church, 4600 S. King Drive, October 2016. Originally a synagogue founded in 1861 by German Jewish immigrants, the neo-Classical building was home to Chicago Sinai Congregation from 1912 until the 1940s. In 1961, Mount Pisgah Missionary Baptist Church moved into the building. The church community brought a strong commitment to social justice and played an instrumental role in bringing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference to Chicago. Since the late 1960’s the church has provided a neighborhood food bank.
Chicago (Navy Pier), September 2015.
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, June 2018.
Chicago (Edgewater), 2014.
Oakbrook, Illinois, summer 2019.
Metropolitan Correctional Center, Chicago (1975) in late 2017. The 28-story building is a right triangle shape. Architect Harry Weese (1915-1998) designed each cell with a floor-to-ceiling slit window, 7 feet (2.1 m) long by 5 inches (130 mm) wide. The windows were narrow enough that they did not require bars and beveled out to allow natural light to pass inside.
Chicago, August 2017.
Chicago (Magnificent Mile), May 2016.
Chicago (Skyline Walk), September 2015.
Crown Fountain (Millennium Park), Chicago, September 2016.
Chicago (Old Town), August 2017.
Concert, October 2014.
Chicago, (Wabash Avenue near Adams Street), August 2017.
Chicago, (Wabash Avenue and Jackson Street), August 2017.
Chicago (Wabash Avenue near Congress Parkway, renamed Ida B. Wells Drive in 2018), September 2015.
Chicago, August 2015.
violin shop, Wilmette, Illinois, June 16, 2016.
bus stop, Chicago, February 2, 2018.
Downtown (Theater District), Chicago, February 2018.
Expo Chicago/2018 is the 7th
annual exhibition of international contemporary and modern art held in
Chicago at Navy Pier’s Festival Hall. It took place September
27-30, 2018. Expo Chicago/2018 presented 135 galleries and exhibitors representing 27 countries
and 63 cities from around the world.This post’s 60 photographs are of that event.
Expo Chicago/2018 includes exhibitors four sections categorized to a specific aim: Exposure are galleries founded since 2010 featuring one or two artists; Profile are international galleries featuring solo or collective artists with focused installations, exhibitions and projects; Editions + Books highlight artist books, editions, prints, collectibles, photography, collage, drawing, etc.; Special Exhibitions” feature site specific work.
More Expo Chicago/2018 sections include: IN/SITU highlighting curated large-scale installations (a second, outside version features large-scale sculptures in various Chicago locations); EXPO VIDEO highlighting curated film, video and new media work; EXPO SOUND highlighting curated sound installations and projects.
Expo Chicago/2018 was held in Festival Hall on Navy Pier in Chicago. The annual event, held since 2012, is in its seventh year.
Expo Chicago/2018 attracts thousands of attendees to visit with hundreds of gallery owners and artists from all over the world.
Expo Chicago is a major modern and contemporary art event held each year to open the Fall art season. It is held nearby to downtown Chicago and the Magnificent Mile on historic Navy Pier which is one of Chicago’s most popular tourist magnets.
One of the information desks at Expo Chicago/2018.
Expo Chicago/2018 welcomed 135 international art galleries from 27 countries and 63 cities.
Georgia Scherman Projects, Toronto. Within the framework of the show’s sections, each booth showcases the artwork of their choosing .
The artwork of Marcus Jansen was featured at Casterline/ Goodman Gallery, Aspen, CO, Chicago, and Nantucket, MA.
Artist Gina Pellón (center) at Cerunda Arte, Coral Gables, FL.
Surrealist painter Fred Stonehouse, Night King, 2018, acrylic on canvas, Tory Folliard Gallery, Milwaukee, WI.
Richard Hughes, Hot Step, 2017, cast polyester resin and enamel paint, Anton Kern Gallery, New York.
Ridley Howard, Blue Dress, Blue Sky, 2016, acrylic on linen, Frederic Snitzer Gallery, Miami, FL.
Library Street Collective, Detroit, MI.
Artist Francesco Clemente, 2018, oil on canvas at Maruani Mercier Gallery, Brussels, Belgium.
Artwork of Larry Poons, Yares Art, New York, Palm Springs, Santa Fe.
Artwork of Austin White, 2018, Jenkins Johnson Gallery, San Francisco and New York.
SEA OF FLAGS, 2004, 2500 West Division Street, Chicago (Humboldt Park) by Gamaliel Ramirez (b. 1949) with the assistance of community members.
The mural entitled Sea of Flags depicts Fiesta Boricua (De Bandera a Bandera), an annual 3-day music and cultural event in the Humboldt Park neighborhood in Chicago. Attracting tens of thousands of visitors, the fiesta is held starting in late August or early September. In 2018 the Fiesta Boricua celebrated its 25th anniversary and offered 3 stages booked back to back with scores of musical and cultural performers specializing in the pulsating rhythms of Puerto Rican salsa, reggaeton, bomba, plena, and merengue music, and more.
Some of the famous people depicted in the mural Sea of Flags include Puerto Rican nationalist Lolita Lebrón (1919-2010), Nuyorican (“New York City/Puerto Rican”) poet and playwright Pedro Pietri (1944-2004) and, depicted as a bronze statue on the image’s left side, Don Pedro Albizu Campos (1891-1965), the leading figure in the Puerto Rican independence movement.
An abundance of Puerto Rican flags in the mural is intentional by the artist and his assistants. Since Spain ceded Puerto Rico to the United States in 1898 following the Spanish-American War — and ceded the Philippines and the island of Guam at the same time — Puerto Rico and the U.S. have had a complicated political relationship that is yet to be completely mutually resolved today.
Gamaliel Ramirez was born in the Bronx in New York in 1949. He spent most of his career in Chicago teaching and as a working artist. After 35 years in Chicago he retired to Santa Rita, San Juan, Puerto Rico. After Hurricane Maria in September 2017, Mr. Ramirez was hospitalized for many months and passed away on May 21, 2018. The artist of this colorful mural has left behind for us a legacy of paintings, other murals, photography and poetry.
Expo Chicago/2017 is the 6th annual exhibition of international contemporary and modern art held in Chicago at Navy Pier’s Festival Hall. It took place September 13-17, 2017. Expo Chicago/2017 presented 135 galleries representing 25 countries and 58 cities from around the world.
This post’s 34 photographs are of that event.
Expo Chicago 2017.
Brian Calvin, Momentary Monument, 2017, acrylic on canvas, Anton Kern Gallery, New York. Expo Chicago 2017.
Admissions, Expo Chicago 2017.
Information desk, Expo Chicago 2017.
Lara Schnitger, Suffragette City, 2015-2017, Cotton, and linen, quilted and bleached, Anton Kern Gallery, New York. Expo Chicago 2017.
The War We Won, Roger Brown, oil on canvas, 80 x 120 in., Kavi Gupta Gallery, Chicago. Expo Chicago 2017.
Doug Argue, Dream Song 12, 2017, oil on paper, 40,x,60 in., Marc Straus, New York. Expo Chicago 2017.
CarrerasMugica Contemporary Art Gallery, Bilbao. Expo Chicago 2017.
Galerie Gmurzynska, Zurich, Switzerland, with booth design by Antonio Manfreda. Expo Chicago 2017. Germano Celant, theorist of the Arte Povera movement. From 2015 he was the artistic director of the Prada Foundation in Milan.
Matthew Monahan, Hurricane Nickel, 2016, and Aquarius Gemini, 2016, Anton Kern Gallery, New York. Expo Chicago 2017.
Anton Kern Gallery, New York. Expo Chicago 2017.
Rita McBride, Halicarnassus, 2010, bronze and grey limestone, and Pantheon 2, bronze and markina marble, CarrerasMugica Contemporary Art Gallery, Bibao. Expo Chicago 2017.
Wardell Milan, The New Sun Will Warm our Proud and Naked Bodies, 2016, charcoal, oil, oil pastel, pastel, gesso, acrylic, color pencil, cut paper on paper, David Nolan Gallery, New York. Expo Chicago 2017.
Meleko Mokgosi, Honor Fraser Gallery, Los Angeles. Expo Chicago 2017.
John A. Seal, König Galerie, Berlin. Expo Chicago 2017.
Alfred Leslie, Oval Collage, 1959, Diana Moore, White Head, 1988 and Willem de Kooning, 1965, charcoal on paper, Alan Stone Projects, New York. Expo Chicago 2017.
Thinks I, To Myself. Expo Chicago 2017.
Expo Chicago 2017.
Expo Chicago 2017.
Jackie Saccoccio, Portrait (Bomba), 2017, and Faheem Majeed, Hopscotch I, 2011, and Pause, 2010, Rhona Hoffman Gallery Chicago. Expo Chicago 2017.
Expo Chicago 2017.
Garth Greenan Gallery, New York. Expo Chicago 2017.
Iva Gueorguieva, Listen, 2017, acrylic oil collage on canvas, Miles McEnery Gallery, New York. Expo Chicago 2017.
Hayal Pozanti, 70 (million m.p.h that the earth orbit around the sun), 2017, acrylic on canvas, 60 x 132 in., Jessica Silverman Gallery, San Francisco, California. Expo Chicago 2017.
Lavar Munroe, Instinctual, 2017, acrylic on canvas, 48 x 42 in., Jenkins Johnson Gallery, San Francisco. Expo Chicago 2017.
Expo Chicago 2017.
Peres Projects Berlin. Expo Chicago 2017.
Ransome Stanley, Untitled, 2017, oil on canvas, 59 x 78 in., Gallery MOMO, South Africa. Expo Chicago 2017.
Booth 839, Expo Chicago 2017.
Caroline Walker, Grimm Gallery Amsterdam New York. Expo Chicago 2017.
Expo Chicago 2017.
Nicolas Africano, Untitled, 2017, cast glass, Weinstein Gallery Minneapolis. Expo Chicago 2017.
A closed-down weather-beaten replica of the very first McDonald’s franchise restaurant started by Ray Kroc (1902-1984) on April 15, 1955 standing on its original site in Des Plaines, Illinois, is slated to be demolished by McDonald’s Corporation with its land donated or possibly sold.
It was not long ago that McDonald’s touted that approximately one in every eight American workers had been employed by the company (Source: McDonald’s estimate in 1996) and that even today McDonald’s hires around 1 million workers in the U.S. every year. By 1961 there were 230 McDonald’s franchises in the United States. In 2017 there was 37, 241 McDonald’s restaurants worldwide. Not only historians and historic preservationists decry the imminent demolition of the first McDonald’s restaurant in Des Plaines, Illinois, just west of Chicago, but others impressed by its direct significance to the growth and impact to U.S. labor history as well as the American restaurant industry and American automotive culture in the post-World War II era. Further, McDonald’s restaurants today reach into 121 other countries around the world influencing and being influenced by global cuisine. That all of this cultural and business import was born on a now-threatened patch of land on Lee Street in Des Plaines, Illinois, is impressive.
It appears that if and when McDonald’s follows through on its November 2017 decision to raze the building and give up the site, this originally-designed McDonald’s restaurant on Ray Kroc’s original site in Des Plaines will be forever lost. The story of how that planned demolition of this unique piece of Americana came to be began 35 years ago. It was on March 3, 1984 that after 29 years of continual operation the original franchise restaurant on the original site was permanently closed and demolished. Founder and former McDonald’s Corporation chairman Ray Kroc had died less than six weeks before in January 1984 at 81 years old in San Diego, California.
The McDonald’s restaurant brand opened its first burger bar called McDonald’s Bar-B-Q in California in 1940 – and, by 1953, brothers Maurice and Richard McDonald started a small franchise business in Phoenix, Arizona and Downey, California. Today’s nationwide and global franchise empire that serves 75 burgers every second (Source: McDonald’s Operations and Training Manual) began when Oak Park, Illinois-born Ray Kroc, a paper-cup-turned-milkshake-machine salesman, convinced the McDonald brothers to let him franchise their business nationwide. Kroc offered to manage the franchises in the U.S., excepting the brothers’ first franchises in Arizona and California, and the pair were to receive a tiny percentage of gross sales nationwide in return.
Kroc’s first walk-up franchise McDonald’s restaurant at the “Five Corners” intersection in Des Plaines, Illinois, served an assembly-line format menu of hamburgers, cheeseburgers, french fries and a selection of drinks. In 1955, he founded McDonald’s System, Inc., a predecessor of the McDonald’s Corporation, and six years later bought the exclusive rights to the McDonald’s name and operating system. By 1961, Ray Kroc’s vision had clearly paid off for the now 59-year-old former paper cup salesman. That same year, Kroc bought out the McDonald brothers for $2.7 million and launched his strict training program, later called “Hamburger University, ” in nearby Elk Grove Village, Illinois, at another of his 230 new McDonald’s restaurants. Ray Kroc’s original vision was that there should be 1,000 McDonald’s restaurants in the United States. When Kroc died in January 1984, his goal had been exceeded six fold — there were 6,000 McDonald’s restaurants in the U.S. and internationally in 1980.
The Des Plaines suburban location of Ray Kroc’s very first McDonald’s franchise retains its relatively humble setting even as the McDonald’s Corporation it spawned earns $27 billion in annual sales making it the 90th-largest economy in the world (Source: SEC). Kroc, the milkshake machine salesman who convinced the McDonald brothers to let him franchise their fast-food operation nationwide, saw his original McDonald’s franchise at 400 Lee St. in Des Plaines open for business until, shortly after his death, it closed on Saturday, March 3, 1984.
In 1984 there were no plans to preserve the site – its golden arches and road sign had been carted away – but a public outcry prompted McDonald’s in 1985 to return the restaurant’s restored original sign designed by Andrew Bork and Joe Sicuro of Laco Signs of Libertyville, Illinois, and dedicate a restaurant replica that still exists today on the original site though it is now slated for demolition. The historic red neon-lettered sign turned on for the opening of Kroc’s first store on April 15, 1955 – there is one similar to it preserved in The Henry Ford museum in Dearborn, Michigan dating from 1960 – proclaimed “McDonald’s Hamburgers” and “We Have Sold Over 1 Million” and, intersecting with an iconic golden arch displayed a neon-animated “Speedee” chef, the fast food chain’s original mascot. (The clown figure of Ronald McDonald first appeared in 1963).
The day after the original restaurant closed – Sunday, March 4, 1984 – a McDonald’s restaurant franchise moved across the street into a state-of-the-art new building on a site that once accommodated a Howard Johnson’s and, after that, a Ground Round. The full-service McDonald’s in Des Plaines, Illinois, today continues to operate out of that 1984 building. It may confuse the visitor which exactly is the original site of the first McDonald’s as the newer 1984 building not on the first site displays inside a high-relief metal sign that reads: “The national chain of McDonald’s was born on this spot with the opening of this restaurant.” Though undated, it is signed by Ray Kroc which points to it being brought over from the original restaurant when it was closed. At the replica restaurant on the original site two metal plaques (dated April 15, 1985) properly proclaim: “Ray A. Kroc, founder of McDonald’s Corporation, opened his first McDonald’s franchise (the ninth McDonald’s drive-in in the U.S.) on this site, April 15, 1955.”
A few months after the first franchise restaurant was closed and demolished in 1984, the parcel of land on which it sat – it had only always been leased since 1955 – was purchased by McDonald’s at the same time they announced plans for the replica landmark restaurant.
The original architectural plans by architect Robert Stauber from the mid1950’s were lost, so 1980’s planners applied architectural drawings of McDonald’s restaurants built in the late 1950’s for the replica. Its kitchen included refurbished equipment brought out of storage, including the restaurant’s original six-foot grill. It also displayed one of Ray Kroc’s original multimixers like the ones he sold to Maurice and Richard McDonald that started a fast-food partnership in the 1950’s which by the mid-1960’s inspired many well-known copy cats of McDonald’s model, including Burger King, Burger Chef, Arbys, KFC, and Hardee’s.
The original restaurant had been remodeled several times during its almost 30 years of operation but never had much in the way of indoor seating or a drive-through. It did feature a basement and furnace built for Chicago’s four seasons and was used by the replica museum to exhibit items. The McDonald’s Museum was open for tours until September 2008 when the site experienced record-setting flooding from the nearby Des Plaines River. In April 2013 another record flood in Des Plaines submerged the McDonald’s Museum and produced serious speculation that the site would be moved or permanently closed.
In mid-July 2017, only four years since the last significant flood, the area experienced its worst flooding on record. In November 2017 McDonald’s announced it would raze the replica restaurant structure and by May 2018 the site had had its utilities disconnected and its golden arches, Speedee sign, and main entrance McDonald’s sign dismantled and removed. These historically valuable items were taken by McDonald’s out of public view to an undisclosed location. Once again, and this time more seriously it appears, the prospect of pleas by Des Plaines municipal authorities, historic preservationists, social media and others for McDonald’s Corporation to preserve the site intact is murky at best.