A Piece Of Edinburgh In Chicago

Edinburgh Castle, Chicago, Tribune, Scotland, Scottish History

A chunk of Edinburgh Castle in Chicago’s Tribune building

It may be sister cities with San Diego, but what you might not be familiar with is Edinburgh’s more subtle connection with America’s Windy City. Sprawling 463 feet into the air at the bottom of Chicago’s famous ‘Magnificent Mile’ is the Tribune Tower, home to the Chicago Tribune and an epitome of the American architect’s desire to construct not just buildings but behemoths. Skyscrapers to the heavens.

Housing restaurants and shops as well as publishing houses, this gothic imprint in the city also has a fun secret for both tourists and residents to explore: set all around the base is 120 blocks of stone imported from places all around the world – including a chunk from our very own Edinburgh Castle.

But why is it there, and who would go to the trouble of lugging all those blocks around?

That would be a man named Robert Rutherford McCormack, or ‘Colonel McCormack’ as he became known after his exploits in the First World War. One of the Tribune’s original owners, the out-spoken man was against his country’s involvement in the fighting, yet served anyway, and ended up taking back with him a piece of rubble from a battle at Ypres as a souvenir.

This gave him the idea to lace his building with blocks of stone from famous locations all over the world, and thus he instructed staff to collect whatever pieces they could by “well mannered means” (one assumes this is code for “without stealing”). How this could be done is something of a mystery, but it’s hardly a surprising idea from a man who would install secret staircases giving him covert escapes from his office.

The real significance of each block is that it comes from a famous landmark, like the Berlin Wall and Notre Dame, so it’s no surprise to see Edinburgh Castle nestled in right by the entrance on the south wall. Scotland has a long history of influence in The States – this is just another neat little reminder.

Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle

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