Wednesday, July 12, 2023

1800 North Clybourn Avenue Shopping Mall in Chicago, Illinois. (1988-2002)

The William D. Gibson company manufactured springs at this factory on Clybourn. Built-in 1908, the factory was expanded over the years. The main building does an interesting job of purposely not hiding its water towers. Even with two towers that ostensibly look like they were designed to conceal water towers (an emerging trend at the time), there is still a prominent water tower visible on the factory roof.
The postcard provides quite a view. Not only does it show the Gibson factory in detail, but it also shows the natural gas tanks that were notable landmarks of this Near North Side neighborhood for decades.
In 1959, Gibson closed shop and moved downstate, citing increasing crime in the neighborhood and high labor costs. Shortly after that, the factory was bought and used for manufacturing purposes by the Turtle Wax company until the 1980s.

1800 North Clybourn Avenue Shopping Mall
1800 North Clybourn Avenue was an enclosed shopping mall that opened in 1988 in the Clybourn Corridor in the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago. 

In 1986, the factory was purchased by a developer, Horwitz and Matthews, and became one of the most interesting industrial-to-retail conversions in Chicago history. 

The "Clybourn Corridor" of lofts and retail was just emerging, and the developer sought to create a unique retail environment. The center part of the building was demolished to make way for parking, with the two ends of the building restored and used for shops. The entire courtyard was intended to be covered by glass and was supposedly designed to "duplicate the look and feel of a 19th Century industrial village." Seemingly, some of the plans for the complex (such as the glass canopy) did not come to fruition or were later altered, but the site remains an interesting and unique case study in industrial reuse.

Architect Stanley Tigerman designed the mall, retaining the structure's wood beams and brickwork and created a three-level enclosed specialty shopping center with a unique industrial atmosphere.

Mayor Harold Washington attended the mall's grand opening. 

The mall opened with 40 stores. 1800 North Clybourn was home to various shops and restaurants, including Ann Taylor, The Limited, The Gap, Restoration Hardware, and The North Face. The mall also had a food court and a movie theater.

The mall struggled to attract tenants and only obtained a 50% occupancy at any time. By 2002, only half of the spaces were leased, and the mall closed.
The two towers can be seen on the right side of this photo.

1800 North Clybourn was a unique shopping mall ahead of its time. The mall's unconventional industrial design and location made it difficult to attract tenants, and it ultimately closed after only 14 years.

Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D.

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