How does it feel to have an office in one of the most historic buildings in the country? A building that, at the time it was constructed, was the largest building in the world?
I knew it was an amazing and historic building, but it is one thing to intellectually know this while reading trivia 300+ miles away in Blue Ash, Ohio. It’s a totally different thing when you are standing on Chicago Riverwalk looking at the magnificence and might of a building that takes up an entire city block. At one point in its history, this building had its own zip code; just think about that!
I visited the new, Chicago InfoTrust office a few days ago and here are some interesting facts that I learned (and few more cool photos).
- When this building was opened in 1930, it had 4,000,000 square feet of floor space! (With a football field measuring in at 57,600 square feet, that means the building could house 69 full football fields!)
- For over half a century, this building was owned by the Kennedy family. Building revenue became a principal source of the Kennedy family wealth, including being a source of political campaign funding.
- Until 2008, this building had its own zip code (60654).
- This building has its own underground train station: Brown and Purple Lines.
Similar to our office in Dubai, our Chicago office is not a private office. The days of tiny, dedicated offices are going away - nobody wants to sit in a tiny office with one window and a half-dead plant. When you work for a large company, how often do you not have the slightest idea what the person sitting next to you is working on? Yet it doesn’t get in the way of you becoming friends, having lunch together, sharing ideas, concerns and just talking when you need a break. Now take this to the extreme and imagine 150,000 square feet that house 400+ digital companies. Welcome to 1871!
The day I visited 1871 it was packed. Who knows how many of those companies are going to become the next Kayak’s, Groupons and Trunk Clubs and how many will fold within the next 12 months. I don’t have access to statistics, but I am willing to bet that the companies launched in accelerators vs. lonely garages are more likely to survive and get off the ground. Why do I think that?
- 4-minute miles effect. When you see so much energy around you and so many people running as fast as they can, you are naturally going to run faster.
- Access to resources. I wish I took a picture of the wall with the trainings and mentoring resources that are available, but it is seriously mind boggling. It would actually take a lot of self-discipline for people addicted to learning or suffering from analysis paralysis to not spend all their time in training. There is something going on every day! Some of the trainings are from other members of the community in a meetup-like fashion. The other trainings and workshops are from the who’s who in Chicago and the national digital entrepreneurial community who are taking the time to give back.
- Insane membership perks such as help with benefits, recruiting, etc.
Here are some pictures from my trip and from the 1871 website.
This is our office right now. This place is wild, crazy and full of energy.
So you might ask, "What are your plans for this office? 150,000sq. ft of space can fit quite a few InfoTrust’ers." We are certainly not saying goodbye to Cincinnati, but we are all about finding the best people and providing them with the best place to work. I couldn’t possibly imagine a better location where history, business and digital innovation overlap in one place.
If you are interested in exploring our job opportunities, check out our Careers page. Over the next 12 months we’ll be filling consulting, sales and account management roles. Let us know if you’re interested!
“To immortalize outstanding American merchants”, Joseph Kennedy in 1953 commissioned eight bronze busts, four times life size, which would come to be known as the Merchandise Mart Hall of Fame:
- Retail magnates Frank Winfield Woolworth, Marshall Field and Aaron Montgomery Ward
- Julius Rosenwald and Robert Elkington Wood of Sears, Roebuck and Company fame
- Advertiser John Wanamaker, Merchandiser Edward Albert Filene, and A&P grocery chain founder George Huntington Hartford.
All of the busts rest on white pedestals lining the Chicago River and face north toward the gold front door of the building.
Who knows how many graduates of 1871 will enter the modern history of American retail or digital business and launch billion dollar brands that will change the world?
Waiting for my Uber, I couldn’t stop looking at the faces of these entrepreneurs and I got emotional thinking how big of a role entrepreneurs play in the development of a society. Our responsibility towards not just our families, but families of the people who work for us, our communities and (if we get so lucky) future generations of entrepreneurs who will look at us as their 4-minute mile as they strive to make this world better for our children and grandchildren.