Chicago Tribune Editorial - State Street? Still standing
Copyright © 2006, Chicago Tribune
Published August 26, 2006
Many Chicagoans expressed outrage when Federated Department Stores bought Marshall Field's and announced that, come September, the venerable Field's name would disappear--even on the State Street store--and Macy's would take its place. Shoppers vowed their loyalty to a Chicago icon. Many insisted they would cut up their credit card and never again set foot inside the soon-to-be formerly Field's.
But that all may be just so much nostalgia. It looks like we're not so loyal after all. Bon-Ton Stores Inc. announced Friday that it is shuttering Carson Pirie Scott's historic State Street store, the other big retailing icon on that great street. The reason: slumping sales. The other 25 Carsons stores in the region are doing just fine.
Just like that, Marshall Field's and Carson Pirie Scott will be gone from State Street. Two names that embodied Chicago retailing for more than a century will disappear. The Field's name will be gone from State Street in two weeks and Carsons will disappear in March.
At least you'll still be able to shop at the Marshall Field's store--albeit under the red and black Macy's logo. Federated says the State Street Macy's store will become a great department store again.
Carsons on State Street will no longer be a department store. The famed Louis Sullivan-designed building at 1 S. State, designated a national historic landmark, will be converted into a mix of retail, office, school and entertainment uses. Joseph Freed and Associates of Palatine bought the 1 million-square-foot building five years ago. It has spent $60 million restoring and renovating the place and promises an exciting future.
And you know what? Life will go on. More people may be drawn to State and Madison. Chicagoans lament the loss of the historic names that defined State Street shopping for 100 years--but not enough of them have been going there. They've been going to Target or Costco or Kohl's or Wal-Mart or any of the other specialty and big-box retailers that don't have famous addresses and landmark status but have been chipping away at department store sales for years.
If you've lived in Chicago for any period of time, especially if you grew up here, chances are you have a favorite memory of shopping on State Street. You're probably thinking of windows at Christmas right now. But times and tastes and habits change.
It's a sad day for those who love Chicago's history, and particularly for those who will lose jobs at Carson Pirie Scott.
But State Street, it'll survive. In fact, it looks like State Street will be just fine. As the Tribune recently reported, the Loop is enjoying a resurgence, prompted by the revived theater district and the wondrous Millennium Park. A record number of stores and restaurants have been moving in. State Street is a fun place to hang out again. The new joints in the old Carsons building will probably thrive there.
We'll miss Marshall Field's and Carsons. But State Street is still standing, and very much open for business