The Temporary City Hall, from A. T. Andreas, History of Chicago, vol. 2, 1885 (ichi-00446)
Designed by John M. Van Osdel, the “temporary” city hall was ready for occupancy on January 1, 1872. As it turned out, the city government occupied this provisional building until 1885, when it was finally replaced by the massive City Hall and County Building on the site of the old Court House in the block bordered by LaSalle, Washington, Clark, and Randolph streets. The design for a new building was chosen in 1872-73 through a competition, but a combination of political and legal squabbles, hard times, and corruption involving many different parties delayed its completion and kept the center of Chicago’s municipal government in this building until 1885. It was demolished to make way for Burnham & Root’s Rookery Building, which is still standing.
The Book Room in the Old Water Tank; from The Merchants and Manufacturers of Chicago, 1873 (ichi-13217)
An acknowledged shortcoming of pre-fire Chicago was the lack of a free public library, and the loss to the flames of the nearest equivalent, the Chicago Library Association, spurred a movement to establish one. Following the conflagration, this movement found support in England, especially from Thomas Hughes, best known as the author of Tom Brown's School Days, who was at that time a member of Parliament. Soon a group of writers, publishers, and organizations collected some seven thousand books for Chicago, and in 1872 a public library was established in, of all places, a empty water reservoir next to the temporary city hall at Adams and LaSalle streets.
The library moved to a series of other places in the city, as different proposals for a permanent home were discussed. The idea of constructing a library building to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the fire gained much support, but it came to nothing. Among the locations of the library was the 1885 Chicago City Hall and Cook County Building. By 1897 it finally had a magnificent building of its own, now the Chicago Cultural Center, at Michigan and Randolph, on the site of what was known as Dearborn Park. Where the old library and the temporary city hall once stood at LaSalle and Adams has been occupied since 1886 by a Burnham & Root masterpiece, the Rookery Building.
Rookery Building and Board of Trade; Photograph, ca. 1890 (ichi-00253)
Since 1886 a Burnham and Root masterpiece, the Rookery Building, has occupied the southeast corner of LaSalle and Adams street, where the temporary City Hall and public library once stood. Rooted at the intersection of LaSalle and Jackson is the Board of Trade building, designed by W. W. Boyington, which stood here from 1885 to 1929, when it was replaced by the current Board of Trade. Problems caused by the settlement of the building forced the removal of the 300-foot tower in 1895.