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Santa Fe Sign Replaced By Motorola

By Samantha Abernethy in News on Jul 23, 2012 9:30PM

When we heard the Santa Fe sign could be replaced by Motorola, we cried for preservation. Well, it was replaced at the beginning of the month, and it took us weeks to notice, so maybe it doesn't matter as much as we thought it did. It's still a shame to see a good old-fashioned sign replaced with a newer one.

News came out at the end of April that Motorola had requested to replace the sign on the 17-story office building. The sign wasn't included in the building's Historic Landmark designation, and city staff approved of the name as long as it remains consistent in color and lighting with the original “Santa Fe” signage. Well, it's definitely still the same color, but we wish it were at least a little closer to the Santa Fe font. According to The Chicago Architecture Blog, the sign changed at the beginning of the month.

The Santa Fe building was originally called the Railway Exchange Building when it was completed in 1904. We tried to do some more digging on when the sign was put in place, but we hit a dead-end. The folks at Chicago Architecture Foundation told us that they've tried to hunt down the date before, but it remains unknown. In the gallery above is a 1927 photo of the building sans sign from the history museum's Chicago Daily News archives. Daniel Burnham wrote the plan for Chicago in the building, and it's been a center for architecture firms as much as it has been for railroads. The Santa Fe railroad moved its offices out of the city in 1991. The company became the Burlington Northern Santa Fe in 1996.

The sign might not even stay in the state either. According to the Tribune, it's currently in storage at the Illinois Railway Museum after the Museum of Science and Industry passed, but the city of Santa Fe wants the signage, too. Here's what CAB has to say about the loss of a historic piece of the skyline.

No matter what happens, it’s another piece of Chicago history that has been co-opted outsiders. Like Marshall Field’s (Cincinnati), Frango Mints (mostly Pennsylvania), the Sears Tower (now Willis out of London), and Fannie Mae Chocolates (owned by 1-800-Flowers on Long Island).