« What I'm writing | Main | A man after my own (retro) heart »

Fading Ad: Bismarck Hotel, Chicago




I was delighted to discover these two vintage ads on the back of Hotel Allegro, as I cut through the rear alley one morning on my way to pick up coffee. The ads date from the building's original incarnation as the Bismarck Hotel, built in 1925. The ads are specifically for the Old Vienna sweets shop ("Pastries Sodas Sundaes") and the Garden Lounge bar ("Pleasantly relaxing...Your favorite potion properly prepared"). There's also a Bismarck banner ad across the top of the building that was too high for my to photograph - the alley, while wide by downtown standards, is still too narrow for a broad perspective. (It also makes this photo much more prosaic than the nicely framed Boston Store ad from my earlier post.) Since I found these ads, I've strolled through a few more alleys looking for other unexpected ads, with no luck so far. But I'll keep looking - I'm wondering in particular if the Palmer House or Chicago Hilton have anything similar. Stay tuned.

That linked-to Allego promotional copy has some interesting background on the hotel's history, most notably that its German-American owners, retreating from anti-German bigotry, temporarily changed the name to the Randolph Hotel during WWI. Sometimes it's easy to forget that what is now such a mainstream ethnic group was once so reviled.

January 6, 2011 in Chicago Observations, Photography | Permalink


Great find! What a nice surprise on your taking the road less traveled. My friend Kevin Walsh (Forgotten-NY) sent me a link to this. I reposted on FB and will RP on FAB. PS: My mother still hates Germans. It's generational. Anyone over 70 in the Netherlands is traumatized by Germany's WWII atrocities. Ironically, they acknowledge being of German blood in their National Anthem, the only line that is hummed during soccer matches. The younger generation is more forgiving.

Posted by: Frank Jump at Jan 10, 2011 3:12:30 PM