Chicago Board of Trade in Chicago

Photo of Chicago Board of Trade in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of Chicago Board of Trade in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
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Photo of Chicago Board of Trade in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of Chicago Board of Trade in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of Chicago Board of Trade in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation

1517 N. Paulina

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Chicago Board of Trade

141 West Jackson Boulevard, Chicago, Illinois, The Loop 60604
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It is appropriate that the building so many architecture fans consider the best in Chicago is located nearly at the center of the city.

Chicago Board of Trade is a textbook art deco skyscraper, complete with three-part division, setbacks, light wells, and all the decorative touches that go with a skyscraper of its period, topped off by a pyramid and an aluminum art moderne interpretation of the goddess Ceres.

It stands powerfully as a gateway to the city's financial district, at one time rising above the other buildings of the region at a time when agriculture was king. Even as the building aged, it grew with several additions by notable architects who took great pains with style and material to create harmonious, but updated, structures that would work with the masterpiece original.

But over the years while commodities lost their luster, this building became less and less prominent in the skyline, overshadowed by banks and mass merchandisers. But the building remained tied to the heart strings of the city, and is a sentimental favorite that brings people back to a different time in a familiar space.

This is not the first Chicago Board of Trade building at this location. The original was erected in 1882l, and was the first building in Chicago with electricity. But when the Federal Reserve built its new bank across the street the building was declared unsound. The Reserve's building was so heavy and solid that it caused problems with the original CBOT building's flimsy foundation.

In 1929 the original building was torn down and construction began on the second. It was hailed as a masterpiece then, and is no less remarkable now. The CBOT located on skyscraper's 12th floor includes a 19,000 square foot trading floor and has been in almost continuous operation since it opened.

But the real show is on the outside. There are dozens of statues adorning the building and its immediate surroundings, all of them reflecting the various activities going on inside the Board of Trade. Allegorical statues of concepts like industry and agriculture, along with bulls, indians bearing corn, and other traders.

Of course, the star of it all is the stylized Roman goddess Ceres, perched atop the building's copper pyramid. She is made of solid aluminum and weighs 6,500 pounds. By the 1980's she had deteriorated significantly and was helicopters off her perch for some rehab and then returned to her roost.

Quick Facts
  • Construction start: 1929
  • Construction finish: 1930
  • Designed by: Holabird & Root
  • Cost: $22,000,000
  • Renovated: 1980 by Murphy/Jahn
  • Renovated: 2005-2006
  • Renovated: 1997
  • Renovated: 1985
  • Renovated: 1980
  • Type: Skyscraper
  • Stories: 45
  • Maximum Height: 605 feet / 184 meters
Statistics
  • Rentable floor space: 1,300,000
Timeline
  • 1882: Construction began on the first Chicago Board of Trade Building at this location.
  • 1894: A spectator in the gallery began shooting into the trading floor. Three people were shot.
  • August, 1911: The CBOT filed for a permit with the City of Chicago to build a new 22-story building 200 feet tall. This was done to get around a city ordinance scheduled to go into effect September 1, 1911 restricting the height of buildings in the city to under 200 feet.
  • October 26, 1921: CBOT president Joseph P. Griffin announces that the organization will build a new 23-story building, expected to cost $6,000,000.
  • January 29, 1927: The CBOT filed plans for a 43-story tower with the City of Chicago.
  • 1929: The CBOT building was demolished
  • 1929: Construction began on the new CBOT building.
  • June 9, 1930: This building opened to the public for an hour from 9am to 10am before trading began for the first time at 10am when President Hoover in Washington pressed a button signaling the start of the trading day.
  • May 4. 1977: This building was named a city of Chicgao landmark.
  • June 2, 1978: This building was named a National Historic Landmark.
  • June 16, 1978: This building was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
  • 1980-1983: The building was expanded with a 24-story addition by Murphy/Jahn; Shaw & Associated; and Swanke, Hayden, Connell Associates Architects. It added 581,000 square feet of space at a cost of $45,000,000.
  • March 18, 1985: More than a dozen people were hurt when a fire broke out in this building.
  • 1997: Another addition was added to this building by Fujikawa Johnson Architects.
  • 2005: An interior renovation project began.
  • 2006: The interior renovation project was completed.
Notes
  • The sculpture of Ceres, the Roman goddess of agruiculture, was executed by John Storrs.
  • The building is clad with gray limestone.
  • This is the home of WCIU Television (channel 26).
  • At the time of its completion, this was the tallest building in Chicago. It was surpassed in 1965 by the Chicago Civic Center (now the Daley Center).
  • Although the "Chicago Board of Trade" no longer exists, its successor, The CME Group has chosen to keep the building's historic name.
  • At one time there were more than 2,700 miles of communications cables beneath the trading floor.
  • The statue of Ceres at the top of the building is 30 feet tall and weighs 6,500 pounds.
Did You Know?
  • The mural of Ceres that was once decorated the trading room is now in the atrium of the 1980's addition.
  • This was one of the filming locations for the 1986 movie Ferris Beuler's Day Off.
  • This was one of the filming locations for the 2005 movie Batman Begins. It was the Wayne Tower.
  • This was one of the filming locations for the 2008 movie The Dark Knight.
  • This was the location where the television show Soul Train began in 1970.
Look For
  • The statue of Ceres, goddess of grain, at the top of the building. She was made out of aluminum by John Storr.
Controversy
  • Many people did not want to see the old Victorian-style Board of Trade building demolished in favor of what was then seen as "modern" architecture.
Rate This Skyscraper
method='post' action='/Building.php?ID=1031#Rate'>Current rating:50% 90%  name='Rating' id='Rating' value='Praise' class='Plain'> name='Rating' id='Rating' value='Raze' class='Plain'>
Your Thoughts

There are six comments.

  It's really nice building outside and inside but I can't tell the same about the people work inside the building.

Anto D. - Monday, August 25th, 2014 @ 1:53pm  

  I worked at the Board of Trade for 10 years. It was the most exciting years of my career. When I started the original financial floor was still used (floor facing Jackson Blvd). On friday mornings when government numbers were released the floor was so full and traders and runners you could hardly move. Long live the Chicago Board of Trade!!

marty heller - Wednesday, April 30th, 2008 @ 4:42pm  

  I love the art deconess of the CBOT. he other evening, I watched the outside flood lights turn on. it was very dramatic!

kirby - Thursday, December 7th, 2006 @ 8:50pm  

   Absolute perfection is skyscraper architecture. I've constructed models of it in 1:150 scale and presantly 1:87 scale. The Ceres statuette purchased from the CBOT Store tops it.

mike palmiter - Saturday, September 2nd, 2006 @ 12:52pm  

  This building embodies old design styles. It has perfect corners and just looks pleasing. Also if you notice, this is the building they used as the Wayne Enterprises building (just without the big letters that say WAYNE on it)

MP - Wednesday, July 26th, 2006 @ 11:40am  

  Perfect architectural form.

mike palmiter - Wednesday, July 26th, 2006 @ 11:15am  

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