The Printing House Row Historic District or more commonly known as Printers Row played a central role in Chicago?s printing industry during its peak. All of the printing establishments have deserted the district numerous years ago, but several of the humongous structures which formerly served as offices and contained printing tools have been maintained.
Printer Row, which is situated in Chicago?s South Loop began to progress at the latter part of the 19th century thanks to the emergence of the Dearborn Street train station which greatly improved the business undertaking in the place, more specifically commercial printing. Publishers and printers gravitated towards the area because of its nearness to the train station and the extensive space that was created after the Great Fire of 1871. The buildings that were constructed were specifically made to hold weighty printing machines. At its height, the commercial printing business in the city was one of the biggest in the entire United States, but it began falling in the 1960s when printers commenced transferring to suburban areas. This downfall was catalyzed with the shutdown of the Dearborn Street Station at the dawn of the 1970s which totally ended the printing activity in this Chicago area.
Printers Row exists today thanks to the efforts of the citizens who rallied behind the preservation of this historic district. Led by architect Harry Weese, Printers Row was officially included in the National Register of Historic Places and was declared as a Chicago landmark which further safeguarded the historical buildings in the area. The area was renewed when several of the former printing houses were transformed into contemporary office spaces and condominium properties.
A few of the buildings in Printers Row were made by famous and acclaimed Chicago architectural companies, one of which is the 14-level Pontiac Building with address at 542 South Dearborn Street which was built in 1891 and is the most antiquated structure conceptualized by the firm Holabird and Roche.
A lot of the buildings found in Printers Row have ornaments alluding to the printing industry. A prime example of which is Franklin Building located at 720 South Dearborn. The 1912 brick structure which was conceptualized by George C. Nimmons is embellished with multi-colored glazed tiles complemented with terra-cotta decorations courtesy of Oskar Carl Gross. Another feature of the Franklin Building is a mural dubbed as ?The First Impression? found above its entryway which show old printers. It was eventually made into residential condominiums in 1987.
Another notable building located in Printers Row is Pope Building (633 S. Plymouth Street). Its fa?ade is also cladded with beautiful terra-cotta adornment. The building was constructed in 1904 and was transformed into apartments 1086 by the same architectural firm which converted the Franklin Building.
The biggest structure in Printers Row is the Transportation Building (600 S. Dearborn Street) and was one of the structures that had nothing to do with the printing industry as it used to hold the offices of railroad entities. Just like the fate of the other buildings, the Transportation Building was converted into a prime space of residential real estate.