Fine Arts Building

Chicago has seen dozens of daily newspapers come and go over the past century has publishing empires have waxed and waned. One of the greats that is no longer with us is the Chicago Daily News which saw its last edition run off the presses in 1978.

Fortunately, the Daily News photo archive found its way into the collection of the Chicago History Museum and thousands of these images are available online. I've pulled out three of the best in order to give you a few suggestions for an afternoon wandering about the city.


Ah, the Fine Arts! 

Located at 410 South Michigan Avenue, the Fine Arts Building (built by the Studebaker company of carriage and car fame, pictured above) was built as a manufacturing plant and showroom. Over time, the building became a hub of the visual and performing arts and today one can wander in and stop by and say hello to violinmakers, used book dealers, the Jazz Institute of Chicago, and the Grant Park Conservancy. 

As a bonus, the building features hand-operated elevators and on the 10th floor you can look at the gorgeous murals that were installed in 1898. Curious visitors can look up on depictions of the masks of tragedy and comedy, along with a nymph and assortment of angels. It's a fun place to spend an afternoon, and they also have the popular Artist's Cafe on the first floor.

And what of this historic photo you ask? It's a 1915 gathering of the "Wide Awake Club," which was created to keep young people interested in reading the Daily News through a series of fun group outings and activities. 


A Temple of Music in the French Renaissance Style

Bush Temple of Music

Located on the northwest corner of Chicago Avenue and Clark Street, the Bush Temple of Music is a riot of French Renaissance Revival-style architecture. Designed by the notable theater architect J.E.O Pridmore in 1901, the building is one of the most notable reminders that Chicago was once an important center of piano manufacturing and sales.

When the grand structure was finished, it had a clock tower and an elaborate showroom for the Bush and Gerts Piano Company, commodious room for the Bush Temple Conservatory of Music, a museum, and a set of offices. It was designated as a city landmark in 2001 and a number of proposals have been bandied about as of late that would restore this elaborate pile to its formal glory.

This Daily News photo comes from 1905 and it features the original clock tower and large display windows festooned with ads for various makes and models of Bush and Gerts pianos. Today, you can stop by Panang in the building for a bit of Thai food after your perambulations around this former piano palace.


Around the Diamond and Into the Pulpit

Billy Sunday

The fiery Billy Sunday was one of the most well-known evangelical preachers in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Born William Ashley Sunday in 1862, he played baseball for the Chicago White Stockings in the 1880s and found his true calling after attending sermon at the Pacific Garden Mission in the South Loop. He would go on to work the "kerosene circuit" across the tiny towns of Illinois and Iowa through the first decade of the 20 century. 

As one might expect, he railed against that demon rum (and other spirits) and his most famous sermon was "Get on the Water Wagon." His sermons were truly epic and they could last for hours at a time, depending on the mood of the crowd. 

Sunday is buried in Forest Home Cemetery in nearby Forest Park and you could certainly stop by and pay your respects there. Also, you could take the Blue Line out to Logan Square and pick up some food and drink at the popular Billy Sunday cocktail bar. Here you can find all manner of beverages and foodstuffs that include pig ears, kale salad, lasagna, and their celebrated "Billy 'Sundae'," which features malt semifreddo, lavender, berries and macadamia nuts. 

And as a side note, this fine photo was taken in 1915 when Sunday happened to be in town for one of his sermons. A note from the Daily News photo editor remarks that he is "standing by a building, laughing."

Yes, he most certainly is.

Photos Courtesy of Chicago History Museum/Chicago Daily News