Sunday, December 4, 2016

Interstate Industrial Exposition Building on Michigan Avenue at Adams Street, Chicago, Illinois. (1872-1892)

The Interstate Exposition Building, the city's first convention center, was constructed by William W. Boyington in 1872.
Michigan Avenue looking north from Jackson Street. The Interstate Industrial Exposition Building is on the right, 1891.
The glass and metal building with ornamental domes was based on exposition buildings in London and New York and was designed to house annual displays of industrial manufacturers.
Ground Plan of the Great Industrial Exposition Building Showing Lake Michigan and Michigan Avenue.
The Exposition was opened to the public in September of 1872, and the receipts from the sales of tickets and other sources that year was $175,402. The total expenditures on account of building and running the building were $345,927, leaving a deficit of $170,525 for the first year.
Inside Boyington’s Interstate Industrial Exposition Building.
Interior of the Building, Looking North From a Central Point Under the Dome. (1873)
The promoters of the enterprise were not discouraged and proceeded to improve the building and prepare for an exposition the next year.
In order to make it the utmost value for exhibitors to display their manufactures and devices to the public, they originally adopted a policy of offering free space and power, which was adhered to.
The Exposition became self-sustaining in 1877. It was the only Exposition of the kind in the country that was self-sustaining, with the possible exception of the American Mechanics Institute of New York.
Interstate Industrial Exposition Building. (1873)
It served a variety of other functions, as an Illinois National Guard armory, the first home of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and the site of national political conventions in 1880 and 1884.
Looking north on Michigan Avenue towards Adams Street, Chicago. (1878)
Looking east on Adams Street from State Street, Chicago (1887). The domed building visible at the end of Adams Street is the Interstate Industrial Exposition Building on Michigan Avenue.
Sheet Music Cover "Grand Exposition March" by Louis Falk
The Interstate Exposition Building was razed in 1892 to build the Art Institute (the World Congress Auxiliary) of the World's Columbian Exposition, which occupied the new building from May 1 to October 31, 1893, after which the Art Institute took possession on November 1, 1893. The Art Institute was officially opened to the public on December 8, 1893.

Are you interested in the Art Institutes Lions' History? They each have a name and were only moved twice since 1893.

Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D.


  1. You posted some real fantastic photos of the building and street scenes. Only the first one have I seen in Chicago history books. Must have been stunning in person.

  2. Fascinating! Though, I find myself wondering what is going on in the picture captioned "Looking north on Michigan Avenue towards Adams Street, Chicago. (1878)"? There appear to be grandstands on the West side of Michigan and tents in the park...

  3. Thank you for the photos and history. I had no idea! Keep up the great research and publishings of all things Chicago and Illinois.

  4. Please post the image from CHICAGO AND ITS MAKERS. Here is the caption, amended :"Michigan Avenue looking north from Jackson Street in 1891.At the right is the south wing of the Interstate Exposition Building, taken down the following year.At Monroe Street is the [CHICAGO FIRE CYCLORAMA]..."


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