Chicago’s La Salle Street

People in the financial industries often refer to New York as Wall Street, London as the City and Tokyo as Kabuto-cho, all microscopic portions of large cities. Chicago is known as La Salle Street. For the financial world, La Salle Street is a narrow urban canyon stretching the three blocks from Madison to Jackson Street.

"Temples of commerce", i.e. massive bank buildings designed to look like Greek temples, line the canyon. Closing off the south end is the Chicago Board of Trade, topped by a statue of the goddess Ceres. In and about this area are Chicago's famous futures markets, major banks including the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, insurance companies and the Chicago Stock Exchange.

The street extends far beyond the financial district. La Salle Street, with many interruptions, runs about 15 miles from 1400 North to 14600 South (in suburban Dalton).

The street is spelled "LaSalle" (no space) about as often as its official designation of "La Salle." Either is easier to write than "René Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle", the name of the famous French explorer who visited Chicago in the 1680s. La Salle Street was shown on the original 1830 plat of Chicago. However, other parts of La Salle were previously named Arnold, Griswold, Jamot, Oswell or Reade. The downtown stretch between Jackson and Taylor was named Pacific Avenue until 1901.

Between Washington and Lake are Chicago's City Hall and the State of Illinois' Thompson Center. Metra's LaSalle Street Station lies between Van Buren and Congress. North of the river is Carl Sandburg Village, one of Chicago's first modern residential high rise complexes. LaSalle is an ordinary city street for most of the rest of its length.

Naturally Chicago Public Library has hundreds of books about Chicago's financial industries. We also have many documents detailing La Salle Street's historic buildings.

Note: this is the first in a series of posts by Chicago in 4D and me about Chicago's historic streets.

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