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Merchandise Mart, Chicago, USA

July 2nd, 2006 / / Links: Google Earth, Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps, Virtual Earth / Nearest places

The Merchandise Mart is the second largest commercial building in the world (next to the Aalsmeer Flower Auction in the Netherlands), located in Chicago, Illinois. It opened in 1930 on the site of the Chicago and North Western Railway's former Wells Street Station, which the railroad had abandoned in favor of the Chicago and North Western Passenger Terminal in 1911.

The Merchandise Mart was designed by the Chicago architectural firm of Graham, Anderson, Probst and White. When it opened in 1930, its cost was reported as both $32 million and $38 million. It was built in art deco style.

In 1945, the Merchandise Mart was purchased by Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr. In 1953, Joseph Kennedy commissioned eight bronze busts to be sculpted which would come to be known as the Merchandise Mart Hall of Fame: Frank Winfield Woolworth, Aaron Montgomery Ward, Julius Rosenwald, Robert Elkington Wood, John Wanamaker, Edward Albert Filene, Marshall Field and George Huntington Hartford. All of the busts face north, apparently looking at the building.

The building was owned by the Kennedy family through MMPI until 1998, when MMPI was acquired by Vornado Realty Trust for $450 million in cash and a $100-million-plus stake in Vornado. [1] Christopher Kennedy remained as President of MMPI.

The Merchandise Mart has its own station on the Chicago Transit Authority's 'L' system, served by the Brown and Purple Lines. The station's turnstiles are actually within the building, while the platforms themselves are connected to the east side of the building.

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