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
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.
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.
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.