The Historic Michigan Boulevard District is a historic district in the Loop community area of Chicago in Cook County, Illinois, United States encompassing Michigan Avenue between 11th (1100 south in the street numbering system) or Roosevelt Road (1200 south), depending on the source, and Randolph Streets (150 north) and named after the nearby Great Lake. It was designated a Chicago Landmark on February 27 2002. The district includes numerous significant buildings on Michigan Avenue facing Grant Park. In addition, this section of Michigan Avenue includes the point recognized as the end of U.S. Route 66. This district is one of the world's most well known one-sided streets rivalling Fifth Avenue in New York City and Edinburgh's Princes Street. It lies immediately south of the Michigan-Wacker Historic District and east of the Loop Retail Historic District as well as a quarter of a mile south of the Chicago River, Michigan Avenue Bridge and the Magnificent Mile.
At no point is Michigan Avenue currently called Michigan Boulevard, but prior to the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, the street was officially known as Michigan Boulevard and often referred to as "Boul Mich". As recently as the 1920s, North Michigan Avenue (especially the Magnificent Mile) was referred to as "Upper Boul Mich". Paris' Boulevard Saint-Michel is the original Boul Mich.
The district has changed over the years as various architectural designs have evolved to compliment it. The boulevard was widened between 1909 and 1910 causing the Art Institute of Chicago Building to have to move the lions guarding its entrance back 12 feet. At that time, the Jackson Boulevard and Michigan Avenue intersection (the end of route 66) was known as "route center". Also at that time, the boulevard had no streets crossing it and extending eastward, and thus, the Jackson intersection was a T intersection. This was still true in 1920 when the Michigan Avenue Bridge opened and increased traffic by connecting this boulevard with the Magnificent Mile and the community north of the Chicago River a quarter mile to the north of this district. The Fountain of the Great Lakes (installed in 1913) was highly visible from route center. Today, four streets cross Michigan Avenue within the district (in addition to its northern and southern endpoints at crossing streets). Three of the four change names as they cross Michigan: eastbound East Monroe Street (100 south) becomes East Monroe Drive; eastbound East Jackson Boulevard (300 south) becomes East Jackson Drive; and two-way East Congress Parkway (500 south) becomes East Congress Drive as it crosses into Grant Park to the east. East Balbo Drive (700 south) does not change names as it crosses Michigan.
Today the only building on the eastern side of Michigan Avenue in the Historic District hosts the Art Institute of Chicago. However, several interesting structures have been added to the northern part of the eastern side of Michigan Avenue in Millennium Park such as Crown Fountain and McCormick Tribune Plaza. The current "End Historic US 66" marker is now located along Michigan Avenue in this district to mark the official end of U.S. Route 66 in Illinois, but this and several others transverse Michigan Avenue within Grant Park because landfill has created two blocks of real estate between Michigan Avenue and the Lake Michigan shoreline. Also, the Fountain was relocated and is no longer easily seen from Michigan Avenue.
Among the current issues today is the trend to redevelop properties by constructing grand towers behind the facades of historic structures along Michigan and Wabash Avenues (the parallel street one block to the west). The most recent examples of this have been the The Heritage at Millennium Park, the Legacy at Millennium Park and the 80-story tower proposed as part of the YWCA building redevelopment at 830 S. Michigan Avenue. This trend is now endangering the Chicago Athletic Association Annex, which has been proposed for demolition to make way for a fifty- to eighty-story condominium tower across from Millennium Park. As a result, the building is listed first on the 2006-07 Chicagoland Watch List of the Landmarks Preservation Council of Illinois. On the other hand many were concerned that the landmark district designation would stagnate development of the area. The purpose of the designation was to "keep the architecture there and encourage architecture like it and keep the wall of the park," according to the City's Department of Planning and Development. Thus, redevolpment for new uses will be part of the ongoing concerns for the neighborhood. Thus, buildings being renovated for condos and dormitories is a part of the present and future for the district.
Several of the buildings listed below have played a prominent role in the cultural history of Chicago.
The Blackstone has become part of Chicago's history as the city that has hosted more United States presidential nominating conventions (26) than any other two American cities, The Blackstone Hotel has hosted almost every 20th century U.S. President, and it has contributed the phrase “in a smoke-filled room" to American political parlance.
The Chicago Symphony Orchestra debuted on October 16, 1891 and made its home in the Auditorium Theatre until moving to Orchestra Hall in 1904. Theodore Roosevelt gave his famous Bull Moose speech in 1912 at the Auditorium and was nominated for President of the United States by the independent National Progressive Party. The Auditorium has hosted Jimi Hendrix, The Who, The Grateful Dead, and many others. The Auditorium Building is considered a milestone in the development of modern architecture.
The Chicago Cultural Center serves as the city's official reception venue where the Mayor of Chicago has welcomed Presidents and royalty, diplomats and community leaders. According to Crain's Chicago Business, the Chicago Cultural Center was the eighth most-visited cultural institution in the Chicago area in 2004, with 767,000 visitors. The interior includes ornate mosaics, marbles, bronze, and stained-glass domes designed by the Tiffany Glass and Decorating Company.
|Willoughby Tower||8 S. Michigan Avenue||Samuel N. Crowen & Associates|
|Metropolitan Tower (formerly Straus Building)||310 S. Michigan Avenue||Graham, Anderson, Probst & White|
|Chicago Hilton & Towers||720 S. Michigan Avenue||Holabird & Roche|
| Buckingham Building|
(a.k.a. Socony-Vacuum Building)
|59-67 E. Van Buren Street||Holabird & Root LLC||NRHP|
|Borg-Warner Building||200 S. Michigan Avenue||A. Epstein and Sons International, Inc., George A. Fuller Company|
|Michigan Boulevard Building||30 N. Michigan Avenue||Jarvis Hunt|
| 6 North Michigan|
(a.k.a. Montgomery Ward Building)
|6 N. Michigan Avenue||Holabird & Roche, Schmidt, Garden & Martin|
|The Blackstone||636 S. Michigan Avenue||Marshall & Fox||CL, NRHP|
|McCormick Building||332 S. Michigan Avenue||Holabird & Roche|
|Michigan Avenue Lofts||910 S. Michigan Avenue||Graham, Anderson, Probst & White, Marshall & Fox|
|People's Gas Building||122 S. Michigan Avenue||D.H. Burnham & Company||NRHP|
|Chicago Athletic Association Annex||71 E. Madison Street||Schmidt, Garden & Martin|
|Wolberg Hall||112 S. Michigan Avenue||Barnett, Haynes & Barnett, Swann & Weiskopf|
|Lake View Building||116 S. Michigan Avenue||Jenney, Mundie & Jensen||NRHP|
|Santa Fe Building (formerly Railway Exchange Building)||224 S. Michigan Avenue||D.H. Burnham & Company|
|Auditorium Building||430 S. Michigan Avenue||Adler & Sullivan||CL, NHL, NRHP|
|The Boulevard||205 N. Michigan Avenue||Holabird & Roche|
|Columbia College||Christian A. Eckstorm|
|Torco Building||624 S. Michigan Avenue||Christian A. Eckstorm, Alfred S. Alschuler|
|Essex Inn||800 S. Michigan Avenue||A. Epstein and Sons International, Inc.|
|The University Club of Chicago||76 E. Monroe Street||Holabird & Roche|
|Congress Hotel Addition||520 S. Michigan Avenue||Holabird & Roche|
|888 South Michigan||888 S. Michigan Avenue||Holabird & Roche|
|Gage Building||18 S. Michigan Avenue||Louis H. Sullivan, Holabird & Roche||CL, NRHP|
|Fine Arts Building||410 S. Michigan Avenue||Solon S. Beman||CL, NRHP|
|Crane Company Building||836 S. Michigan Avenue||Holabird and Roche||NRHP|