Before the Magnificent Mile


       There was Pine Street



The widening of Pine Street in 1917                                             




By Megan McKinney

For decades, Michigan Avenue in Chicago meant South Michigan Avenue—or more formally, Michigan Boulevard. Today’s North Michigan Avenue was Pine Street, a largely residential street. As part of a plan to shift much of the city’s business district north and east in the early nineteen-twenties, the city fathers had decided that Pine Street would first be widened and then linked with Michigan Boulevard by way of a double-decked bridge. The resulting stretch would be our North Michigan Avenue, above the bridge and South Michigan Avenue below it.

This is the sparse residential area around the Water Tower buildings in 1868, three years before the Great Fire.

Credit: Lori Redmon

This shot taken a few days after the Fire from the top of the Water Tower shows how entirely ravaged the district was in the early post-Fire era.

 Credit: Chicago Historical Society

By 1886 Pine Street—looking north from Huron Street—had been rebuilt; however, it remained a residential avenue.

The great change would be the new Michigan Avenue Bridge, which was renamed the Jean Baptiste Point Du Sable Bridge in 2010 in honor of the Founder of Chicago and the city’s first permanent non-Indigenous settler.

Above is a rare image of the construction of the later much-photographed bridge.

May 14, 1920: opening day of the great link between the new North and South Michigan Avenues.

The handsome new bridge with the glorious Wrigley Building when both were young.

The Chicago Tribune 


Author photo: Robert F. Carl