Photoessay - Not With A Bang, But a

 -by Lynn Becker

A smoky fire nudges the old Chicago Sun-Times building closer to oblivion. (December 29, 2004)






It is once one of only 93 structures listed in the first edition of the book, Chicago's Famous Buildings, but the homely modernism of 1957's Sun-Times building, built on the river as the Marshall Field family's answer to the gothic Tribune Tower a block to the east, soon fell out of public favor, and by the time it was vacated last October, little more than 40 years later, to make way for Donald Trump's latest residential megatower, it was being referred to, not infrequently, as "Chicago's ugliest building."

Trump had promised a spectacular kickoff event for the demolition. Rumors speculated on everything from "the Donald" crashing a truck into the building to a full implosion, but in the end Trump settled for a dog-and-pony show where the big finish consisted of the pincers of a wrecking vehicle ripping the building's entrance canopy from the facade.


This morning, a smoky fire broke out on the fifth floor of the old building. Unlike a spectacular December 6th blaze at Chicago's LaSalle Bank building, where hours of continuous TV coverage tracked the flames bursting through the 29th floor windows and licking up the skyscraper's sides, no flames were visible at the old Sun-Times headquarters, only a lot of smoke, casting an already gray building into an even grayer light, snarling traffic, and drawing a crowd of passerby's who watched with mild curiosity.

Chicago Sun-Times building framed through the columns of Mies van der Rohe's IBM Building.

Right: Chicago Sun-Times Building; River Plaza in background


Smurfit-Stone Building to left; Jewelers Building to right

No injuries have been reported. The fire was struck in little more than an hour.

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.

T.S. Eliot,
The Hollow Men




© Copyright 2004 - Photos and text by Lynn Becker All rights reserved.