Tacoma Building by Holabird & Roche Built 1888, Demolished 1929

Photo Credit: Ryerson & Burnham Archives Archival Image Collection

Tacoma Building
Architect: Holabird & Roche
Location: Northeast corner La Salle and Madison streets
Built: 1888
Demolished: 1929

The Tacoma Building is a remarkable steel structure at the northeast corner of La Salle and Madison streets, with frontages of 101 feet on Madison and 80 on La Salle. Its 13 stories are 165 feet high, and it has 4 stores and 156 suites of offices. Its 5 passenger elevators are under the charge of a chief, and carry 8,000 persons daily. It was erected in 1888, at a cost of $500,000, and is occupied by lawyers, real estate operators, and insurance agencies. It was the first building to discard heavy outer walls, and has a place in our chapter on “Notable High Buildings.” (Rand McNally’s Bird’s Eye Views of Chicago, 1893, pg. 142)

“These great Olympian buildings strike me as having beauty of a very high order, the British painter John Lavery told Harriet Monroe in 1911, after looking at Chicago’s skyscrapers. “There has been nothing on earth like it since Egypt built the pyramids. One of the earliest of the Olympians was the Tacoma, on the northeast corner of La Salle and Madison streets, completed in 1889. Its architects, Holabird and Roche, were, along with Adler and Sullivan and Burham and Root, key to the development of the First Chicago School of Architecture. William Holabird, born in New York State in 1854, attended West Point and came to Chicago in 1875. His partner Martin Roche, grew up in Chicago and while still in his teens, entered the office of William Le Baron Jenney, where he met Holabird. The Tacoma was the first building constructed by using rivets, the first whose design openly revealed the steel structure beneath, the first to inch toward the concept of the all-glass wall. This Olympian was toppled in 1929. (Lost Chicago, David Lowe, pg. 142)

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