420 North Wabash Avenue


420 North Wabash was built in 1914 for the Western News Company, a newspaper, periodical, and book distribution company that was founded in the 1860s. Although the first offices of the Western News Company in the Loop were destroyed by the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, company founder, John R. Walsh resumed business the next day in a large brick block on West Randolph Street. They immediately published "The Great Conflagration or the Destruction of Chicago," a business directory of the principal firms, banks and public offices dislocated by the fire. According to an 1873 issue of the Landowner, the company was the great artery through which, everyday, an immense mass of newspapers and periodical literature published across the country was sorted and distributed to newsdealers all over the northwest. Over the years of the company's operation, it had several locations in downtown Chicago. It was in operation at 420 North Wabash from 1914 until 1937, when the business was bought out by the American News Company. Then, in 1958, the American News Company sold the building to an entity which leased it to multiple tenants.

420 North Wabash is a prime example of how an old industrial building can be creatively converted and adapted to contemporary commercial office space. The seven-story loft building of heavy mill construction was designed by Julius and Oscar P. Speyer. The same architects later designed a reinforced concrete addition to the building at 17-19 E. Hubbard Street in 1926. More recently, in 1984, Pappageorge & Haymes were the architects for the conversion of the loft building into offices. Their design hollowed out part of the brick façade facing Wabash Avenue and inserted a glass skin. The building has been noted by the AIA in their local guidebook as one of the city's best-designed loft conversions.

Today, 420 North Wabash is home to Shaw's Crab House restaurant.