Atlas Obscura is organizing trips! Join us on an adventure »
Today Only: 50% off Atlas Obscura books and calendars at Barnes & Noble »

Chicago, Illinois

Goldblatt’s Department Store Flagship Location

Landmark Chicago building narrowly avoided destruction. 

It’s hard to believe that this imposing, ornate building of white terra cotta with broad green metal-framed “Chicago style” window frontage was nearly torn down to build a supermarket.

Fortunately, it has since become an anchor to the Ukrainian Village community, its story another footnote in the everlasting tussle between profit and preservation in Chicago. Besides housing various city departments and a senior center, the first floor opened as a Chicago Public Library branch in 2010 that replaced two smaller neighborhood branches.  

Goldblatt’s was founded by Polish immigrant brothers in 1914, and grew into a prominent discount department store chain; this, their flagship, was designed by Alfred Alshuler and completed in 1928, though they prospered sufficiently to open a store on State Street in 1936. Yet the company struggled in the postwar era, remaining an anchor for lower-income shoppers but petering out in 2000.

Although a few other Goldblatt’s buildings survive around town, this is the only one to receive landmark status, in 1998.  (An impressive “triangular” Goldblatt’s is now a Gap Outlet at Milwaukee & Kimball in the Logan Square neighborhood.)