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SIRY, Joseph M. "Chicago’s Auditorium Building : Opera or Anarchism"
Article published on 13 January 2009
last modification on 15 March 2008

by r-c.
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Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians (1998) 57 (2 June) : 128-159, 241; 26 ill.; 5 plans.

Adler and Sullivan’s Auditorium Building in Chicago (1886-1890) is here analyzed in the context of Chicago’s social history of the 1880s. Specifically, the building is seen as a capitalistic response to socialist and anarchist movements of the period. The Auditorium’s principal patron, Ferdinand W. Peck, created a theater that was to give access to cultural and civic events for the city’s workers, to draw them away from both politicized and nonpoliticized low urban entertainments.…[The building] is here compared with other Chicago buildings of its era that represented high capital’s reaction to workers’ culture, such as Burnham and Root’s First Regiment Armory (1889-1891), Peck’s own house (1887), and the Chicago Athenaeum (1890-1891). The Auditorium’s story invites a view of the Chicago School that emphasizes the role of patrons’ ideological agenda rather than modern structural expression.

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