Merchandise Mart, 1949
When Marshall Field & Co. built the Merchandise Mart in 1931, it was the world's largest building and contained over four
million square feet of floor space. It originally housed Marshall Field's wholesale showrooms and manufacturing facilities, plus the showrooms of retail tenants. The Merchandise Mart centralized Field's wholesale
trade on an unprecedented scale, introducing millions to the latest in home and commercial furnishings and other consumer
wares. The Merchandise Mart boasted superior shipping and transport facilities and amenities including parking, restaurants, visitor lounges, a barbershop, and postal and telegraph offices. In 1945, with Field's wholesale business in decline, Joseph P. Kennedy purchased the Merchandise Mart. It remained
Kennedy family property until sold to the Vornado Realty Trust in 1998. Designed by the famed firm Graham, Anderson, Probst
& White, it still stands downtown along the Chicago River. Though increasingly servicing commercial designers and architects rather than retailers, the Merchandise Mart remains an
active wholesale showroom.
“Joe Kennedy Buys.” Time, July 30, 1945.
“Storekeepers' Store.” Time, January 13, 1936.
Marshall Field & Company. The Story of the Merchandise Mart. 1933.