The Reid Murdoch Center, 1915   The Reid Murdoch Center, 2003
(Left photo: The Reid, Murdoch & Company building overlooking the scene of the Eastland Disaster, 1915.)
(Right photo: The building, renamed the Reid Murdoch Center, overlooking the historical marker at the site of the tragedy, 2003.)


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Reid Murdoch Center Framed Photo Display, Chicago

The Reid Murdoch Center is a massive 400,000 square foot structure fronting the Chicago River between LaSalle and Clark Streets.  It was built in 1913 as a central food processing plant for Reid, Murdoch & Company, whose name remains part of the riverfront facade today.  Designed by George C. Nimmons of Chicago (a student of Daniel Burnham), the building was one of the first structures to be erected in full accordance with Burnham's vision that the Chicago River should serve the City much as the River Seine serves Paris or the River Thames serves London.   It is on the National Register of Historic Places and is already a Chicago landmark for those reasons as well as its architectural integrity.

Crowning the building was, and remains, its most distinguishing feature and frequent subject of riverfront photographers, a clock tower with four massive internally illuminated translucent glass faces. The tower, rather than being located over its then Clark Street showroom entry or its LaSalle Street freight-loading areas, was directly in the middle of the structure on the riverfront facade.

Friedman Properties Ltd., the current owners of the Reid Murdoch Center, have worked with the Eastland Disaster Historical Society since 1999 to approve, design, develop, and install a 5-foot by 7-foot, framed two-dimensional photo essay describing the history of the Eastland Disaster.  When the lobby was completed in 2003, a section of the lobby was reserved for the Eastland Disaster display.

The framed photo essay became a permanent addition to the lobby when it was dedicated July 23, 2005, and is the first ever and largest permanent display devoted to the Eastland Disaster.  The display cost nearly $4,000 to design, develop, and install.  The wood frame is a rich Honduras mahogany, matching the other framed pictures in the lobby.  The layout, designed by Julie Nauman of the Chicago History Museum, features seventeen families together with a brief summary of the tragedy.  The photo essay has a UV lustre to give it longevity and protect it from the harmful ultraviolet rays of the sun.

The framed photo essay was made possible in part by a grant from the Illinois Humanities Council, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Illinois General Assembly.

The Illinois Humanities Council

Photo album


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