Fort Dearborn

I pushed open the doors to the gilded lobby of the London Guarantee Building and was taken aback by the glitter. My faint earlier acquaintance with this building was due to its connection with Cannonball Adderley, Bill Evans and Ahmad Jamal, who played in the Chicago Jazz Nightclub and Steakhouse which was once situated in this building. Looking at the lobby I found it easy to understand why one would move to the Vanguard in the Greenwich Village.

But the building itself is historic, as old as the storied Wrigley building. I walked out to find a plaque which said that Fort Dearborn was situated roughly here, at the mouth of the Chicago River. The area came to be part of the USA in 1795. The fort was first built in 1804, and became the nucleus around which the city of Chicago eventually grew. The Neshnabe native Indians defeated the army in a lightning strike and burnt down the fort. This is commemorated in a plaque at the head of the bridge across the Chicago river on Michigan Avenue, just across the road from the London Guarantee Building. The fort was rebuilt in 1816.

In a sense, I was standing at the historic beginning of Chicago when I entered this lobby.