Day 4: A Blog Trip With Stepheny – Chicago, A Great City

725036c48903dbc51d30dfa2fbc972d5The Marshall Field Clock on State Street

If it weren’t for men like Marshall Field and John Shedd, Chicago would’t be what it is today. Both men are amongst a list of impressive citizens responsible for the art, education and culture in Chicago. You will enjoy a visit to The Art Institute of Chicago and The John G. Shedd Aquarium, but I want to tell you several things about Marshall Field’s famous department store which plays such a prominent role in many stories.


The Chicago Art Institute

Marshall Field Department Store is a famous destination  in Chicago. My mother took me on the train at Christmas time to the city to see the windows, eat in the Walnut room beside the Christmas tree, and buy maple sugar candy.


I hope you have been watching the series Mr. Selfridge on Masterpiece Theater with Jeremy Piven. One of the finest department stores in the world, Suffridges, on Oxford Street in London, was created by American Harry Gordon Selfridge who played a large role in the success of Fields before moving to England. In 1887 HGS was appointed to lead the retail store and headed it as it evolved into a modern department store. We visited the Gold Coast area of the city earlier this week where a mansion belonging to Selfridge once stood. There are many fascinating stories connected to Mr. Selfridge and knowing the many years he spent at Fields makes it all the more interesting.


In the 19th century, ladies shopping in Chicago returned home for lunch because eating at a restaurant unescorted by a gentleman was considered unladylike. But after a Marshall Field’s clerk shared her lunch with a tired shopper, Field’s thought of opening a department store tea room so that women shoppers could stop and eat before continuing to shop. Mr. Selfridge took that idea to London; he also provided women’s bathrooms for the first time in a store. The concept of being able to handle the merchandise while browsing the glass cases was another innovative shopping experience that started at Fields.


An early photograph of Marshal Fields

When Macy’s bought Fields and announced they would change the name of the store in 2006 over 250 protesters gathered under the Fields famous clock. 300 gathered to continue protesting on the the 1st anniversary of this change. Growing up outside Chicago, with my memories, I wouldn’t dream of calling the store anything but Marshall Fields. I have written my protest into the novel I am working on. Working title, Stardust.


Buckingham Fountain


Trump Tower5cb896d84348ade02c6a725439b94ee4

Calder Sculpture0f14b045a4b600c0d93bd1a723a885cb

Wrigley Building on Michigan Avenuecc3df2436ad317fc6d25dfd0308fc482

 Willis Tower, formerly Sears Tower. Tallest building in the United States.


Chagall, stained glass in Chicago; Art Institute of Chicago

So much more to see, to enjoy, to eat!





About Stepheny Forgue Houghtlin

Stepheny Forgue Houghtlin grew up in Evanston, IL. and is a graduate of the University of Kentucky. She is an author of two novels: The Greening of a Heart and Facing East. She lives, writes and gardens in NC. Visit her:
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5 Responses to Day 4: A Blog Trip With Stepheny – Chicago, A Great City

  1. pbmgarden says:

    So interesting to read about this store and your memories.

  2. John Holton says:

    Mary and I first saw each other at a training class at Marshall Field’s, but actually met at Loyola. She worked at State Street, I worked at Water Tower Place (coincidentally right across from Loyola’s downtown campus). We used to meet under the clock when I was working in the Loop and we’d have lunch at the English Room, which by then was serving sandwiches. Many years before, my aunt Marie, who had worked there, would take us downtown at Christmastime and we’d sit under the big tree in the Walnut Room and have lunch. And yes, Mary and I were very upset about Field’s becoming Macy’s just like that, and I’m sure my aunt was spinning in her grave over that one.

    The picture of the Tribune Tower is actually the Wrigley Building, but you can see the Tribune Tower in the picture, on the right side, the Gothic building. The Wrigley Bulding was lit before Wrigley Field; evidently PK bought the lights for the ballpark, but Citizens United for Baseball in Sunshine (essentially Wrigleyville residents who wanted the riff-raff out before dark) filed an injunction, so he put them on the building. It’s gorgeous at night, if you’ve never seen it.

    WGN Radio has a studio at ground level in the Tribune Tower. Immediately to the south is Pioneer Plaza, where it’s said that Jean-Baptiste Point duSable, a Haitian fur trader, made his first home. The Tower forms the north wall of the plaza. There is a building on the far east side of the plaza, owned by Encydclopedia Brittanica, which once housed the stacks of the main branch of the Chicago Public Library when it was shut down for repairs. The library reopened, but in the meantime someone decided, “hey, let’s make it a cultural center!” and the stacks stayed in the warehouse until they found another location for them. If I remember correctly, it’s where the old Sears store was at State and Van Buren.

    My last job in college was in the Wrigley Building; my first job after college was in the Illinois Center, kitty-corner from the Wrigley Building, across the river.

    When I worked at Harris Bank, I would get off the L at Adams and Wabash and walk past the Calder on my way to Monroe and Franklin, where I worked. The Sears Tower (to many Chicagoans, still the name of the building) is at Franklin and Adams. The Discover card was first issued by Sears Bank, and the original cards (we had one and never used it) had a small image of the Sears Tower embossed on the cards. Mary and I saw “Spider Dan” Goodwin climbing up the side of the building on Memorial Day 1982 (pretty sure on the date).

    Sorry to go on like that. Too many memories…

    • THANK YOU John for this great addition to this post. I made the correction and added a PS to the end of the post to ask people to be sure and read what you have written. Harris Bank was one of Leo Burnett’s clients. Do you have a Hubert Doll? Thank you again for taking the time to add this interesting, informative information about a great city!

  3. Lovely trip down memory lane! My husband and I took “art” tours of downtown Chicago on weekends when we first moved there. Did you ever see the Chagall windows?

  4. I have gone back into the post and added a photograph just for you, Noelle. Enjoy!

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