Crafting Your Experience

ChicagoArchitecture
CAC Open House

Chicago’s Tied Houses

Beginning in the late-19th century, a combination of social stigmas around alcohol consumption, new legal restrictions on saloon propriety, and increased market competition encouraged Chicago-area beer makers to adopt a “brewery-tied house” system. Adapted from an English model, the system allowed large-scale brewers to build their own taverns to serve only their beer, a way to ensure quality control with upscale branding to attract a respectable clientele. The growing popularity of Schlitz lager afforded the Milwaukee-based company the opportunity to purchase prime corner lots, commission stylish designs from trained architects, and use high-quality materials to construct their Chicago tied houses. Other smaller breweries, including Blatz, Stege, and Atlas also participated. However, it was Schlitz, with the instantly identifiable “belted globe” logo affixed to its buildings in molded terra cotta or pressed metal, which proliferated in nearly all corners of the city. A variety of dry-reform movements culminating in the 1919 National Prohibition Act eventually ended the tied house system, but many of these establishments survived to pour beer again, or otherwise serve their communities in different ways. The ten landmark buildings on this extended trail, all constructed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries under Schlitz’s tied house campaign, today have been adapted to a variety of different uses. While all tell the story of a successful brewery, each of these buildings also conveys the history of the city’s large influx of European immigrants, many of whom labored in factories, plants and stockyards located not far from their local taverns. This citywide trail from Pullman to Uptown, or vice versa, is best approached in sections as you visit other OHC neighborhoods by bike or foot, or explore the full route according to your own schedule and transportation preferences. Trail includes audio commentary by Nick Lubovich, beer historian; and Lee Greenberg, architect at Gensler.

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