Insull’s Throne

Chicago IL

Urban Refuge/Insull’s Throne
Matt Cunningham
Written By Matt Cunningham

Chicago investor and entrepreneur, Samuel Insull hired a team to design a new opera house to serve as home of the Chicago Civic Opera. Depending on the time of day, it may be like swimming upstream walking against the flow of pedestrians heading to their offices from the commuter train a block away. From the view of this plaza, you see the 44-story office building create the form of a chair…its first 12 stories, the opera house becoming the seat, the 22-story office annexes creating the arms and 45-story office tower making the chair back.

That would make the building behind, bordering this plaza its ottoman. But it’s so much more. It’s a building known as Two North Riverside Plaza, designed by famed Chicago architecture firm Hollabird & Root.

Two North Riverside Plaza was among the first private buildings in the city to include a public plaza in its design. At the time it was built, the river was polluted and buildings butted their backs up against the water’s edge. It was built as the home of the Chicago Daily News and you can see this from the reliefs depicting scenes with famous journalists of the time, Horace Greeley, Joseph Pulitzer and Joseph Medill dawn the facade. It is said to also be home to early rogue radio and television studios.

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Did you know...This is the first building in Chicago to use the concept of "air rights" in order to build over a railroad right-of-way.

If you have time, take the stairs at the plaza down to the river and take the water taxi for unique views of the city.

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