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Airing History: Daily News Building

By JoshMogerman in News on Nov 6, 2010 7:57PM

2 N. Riverside Plaza [Zol87]
Tens of thousands of commuters wander through one of the city’s most notable buildings every day without any sense of the origin of its quirky design. Metra riders step over real estate history as they make their way down the massive ramp in 2 N. Riverside Plaza which is linked by a sky bridge over Canal from the Ogilve Transportation Center next door.

The stately art deco building was the first to be built using “air rights.” It was literally built over the railroad tracks that were already in place in 1925 when building commenced. The odd ramp that commuters tromp over today carries them above Metra trains still using the same right of way the better part of a century later. Another building feature addresses a more contemporary air rights concern: massive ventilation fans that are supposed to draw dangerous fumes from Metra’s diesel engines away from adjacent stations. According to a new Trib exposé, plenty more needs to be done in the area to deal with unhealthy levels of pollution in stations and on the trains (not solely by this building, as seven others have air rights and contribute to the air handling system, including the Boeing headquarters across the street on Washington and, of course, Metra can do plenty to clean up their trains).

The building formerly served as the headquarters of the Chicago Daily News. Given his role in the Trib’s economic woes, it is ironic that perched above the newsroom of a dead paper are the offices of the building’s most prominent occupant, Sam Zell.