8.24. THE THWARTED OPENING OF DEARBORN

The question of the origin of the Monadnock’s Egyptian detailing was moot in late October 1884, however, for Aldis had recommended on October 20 that the project could be postponed for at least two and half years, until May 1, 1887.  Although Root continued to work feverishly on the project, the Monadnock was destined to suffer a fate similar to that of Field’s office building.  Both of the 13-story projects announced during the threatened height limit of 1884 failed to materialize for similar reasons: Field’s building was doomed by the fight with his former partner; Monadnock was a casualty of the battle between the real estate interests of La Salle and those of Dearborn Streets.  Even though the city had seemed to have promised to complete Dearborn through to the C. & W. I. station during the summer of 1884, no construction activity on Dearborn materialized, and it was postponed again to the Fall of 1884.  Aldis may have actually been trying to leverage the city into action by revealing the plans for the Monadnock at the end of April.  Three months later on July 19, it was revealed that the Brookses were also ready to erect office buildings on both of the corners of the north side of Dearborn and Harrison (the eventual site of the Pontiac Building) that would have been directly across the street from the station’s originally-planned location.  (Had the station been built at Harrison, these new buildings would have formed a more visually coherent complex that could have better competed with the Board of Trade area for dominance in the business district.)  Aldis’ apparent public relations campaign was for naught, however, as the right-of-way of Dearborn continued to languish untouched throughout 1884.  

By the fall of 1884, even Aldis had to admit defeat to La Salle Street and decided to bide his time.  The construction on La Salle Street would flood the rental market in May of 1885, just as the business community expected the country to experience an economic decline if Grover Cleveland succeeded in November by becoming the first Democrat to be elected President since 1856.  There would be little to be gained by adding to the glut of office space during a recession with an even taller structure on an unfinished street that wouldn’t be ready for occupancy until long after the leases had been signed for the La Salle Street buildings.  Finally, after more than a year and a half of indecision, Brooks would shelve the project with a letter to Aldis on March 16, 1886, stating “There is little chance of the Monadnock Block being begun before three years.” As had been done with the Rialto Building, rumors of its impending construction would be released periodically in the coming years to bolster interest in the surrounding area, but to no avail.  Monadnock would have to wait.  

(If you have any questions or suggestions, please feel free to eMail me at: thearchitectureprofessor@gmail.com)

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