Address numbers give buildings, homes, residences, businesses, etc., an extra hint as to what that particular address is all about; they are unique to each building and they add character. It's interesting to see the choices in regards to fonts, colors, size or decorative elements. I was downtown just recently, (so what else is new?) and I decided to start a quick photo-essay on addresses between 230 North and 122 South on Michigan Avenue. I figure that I shouldn't waste a walk without a documented observation; I sometimes give myself personal challenges or if I see a repeating pattern, I'll just make the decision to follow it. A bit of history here: house numbering was present in Paris around the 1500's and it was basically meant for denoting property ownership. Later on, the numbering system was used by postal and governmental services. In Chicago, downtown numbering is divided by North and South and the street that separates that is Madison Street; for East and West numbering, State Street divides that direction. In this photo essay, the numbering is a wonky as it jumps numerically by a lot, but I wasn't photographing every entrance-way on Michigan Avenue ... just the interesting ones. This was a quick jaunt down the street and an exercise in patience with waiting for crowds of tourists to get out of my shots.
1907 Chicago Street Map
This historical image is from https://chicagology.com/chicagostreets/chicago-street-numbering/
Oftentimes in big cities, you don't find places by their address numbers, rather by the name of building. This is the case for the Carbon and Carbide Building, located at 230 N. Michigan Avenue. This is a staggering beautiful Art Deco building showcasing polished black granite and tons of gold Deco details at the entrance. Anyway, finding the address number is pretty tough, as it is pretty well camouflaged behind the golden bars.
230 North (detail)
Even when I zoom in, it's still tough to find the number. Actually, it's just as well, it's a rather ugly choice of font ... the closest that I can identify it to is DIN. It's barely visible from just a few feet away and that's due to the color; had they used white or even the same color of gold, it would stand out better. I think it's a little ironic that after all the work that was put into this entrance, that the entrance numbers fall so very short of this golden excellence.
I love this modern entrance and the Futura-ish font works really well here. It's clean and elegant. Also, it's placed just right above the door ... it's not too high nor too low. There's an appropriate amount of space generally around the numbers.
Interesting fact: the reason you have SO many revolving doors in Chicago, is because they keep the heat in and the cold weather out; and vice-versa in the summer months. And it gets people in and out quicker and there's also a security benefit as well.
200 North (detail)
As much as I loved 200 North Michigan, I don't like 150 as much and yet they're seemingly so similar. The Helvetica is a bit overbearing here and I get it ... when you're in a cab or dropping someone off, it is very important to see if you're at the right place. I think had the environmental designer or architect, used Regular or Medium and not the Bold, it would have made it more refined.
150 North (detail)
The tight kerning isn't helping things; it just needs some air to breathe. Contemporary kerning isn't so tight anymore - you're showing your age, dearest 150!
Cute. modern Gill Sans numbers with stacked flush left/ragged right street location; I've always liked the abruptness of its bowl and openness of its aperture. The reddish polished marble has nothing to do with the rest of the building, which is 23 stories of white stone. It's a bit of a cavernous entrance & there's a mix of modern versus gothic ... it's alright.
30 North (detail)
Serious business goes on in here, that's for sure.
It's easy to think that it's '88', but it's just '8'. A good solution would be an edit to that right side number 8 and make it an 'S' ... it CAN be done; I'm sure that SOMEONE in the city knows how to work with polished metal.
This building is quite beautiful and there's A LOT of detail in the entrance alone - look closely at the small heads right above where it says 'Willoughby Tower'. This is a very tall building at 38 stories and it was completed in 1929. Apparently, this site was a convent for the Sisters of Mercy in 1846 - this area was victim to the Great Chicago Fire, so I'm sure so many people were displaced and buildings were destroyed.
8 South (detail)
The type has a Lombardic feel to it judging from the 'E' - falls definitely in the Gothic family.
This is the famous Chicago Athletic Association Hotel, which at one point, was a high-class gymnasium. The numbers are a Humanist Old Style serif font - the capital 'S' is a bit decorative with its extended spine ending in a swish.
12 South (detail)
This address number is beautiful and understated and it's ok, since most people find this building by the name and nit the number. Lot's of architectural styles here, from Italian Gothic to Roman Corinthian columns ... classy building. A legend on the Mag Mile, no doubt.
The glare killed this photo, but it's ok, because I dislike the type. It's a decorative inline stroke serif painted in gold. It's a large sized number, but you can't see it really. Honestly, this looks like the entrance to a funeral home, uh, no thanks.
24 South (detail)
The Monroe Building has the address numbers placed on 2 shields on either side of the entrance. Again, these buildings on Michigan Avenue borrow liberally from all architectural periods, but just focusing on the numbers, it strikes me as very Roman or English. Given that the numbers are moderately small, they are still very visible and readable at a distance. The color red helps to distinguish and call out the numbers as well. Love, love, love that mezzaluna-shaped cut glass over the doors!
104 South (detail)
I like you, 104. And it's clear that it is '104', even though the numbers are repeated. This is where 8 South misses the mark, when they doubled the numbers, because it reads, '88' - so, that is a fail as far as I'm concerned. Sorry, not sorry. I can't be the only one complaining.
This building is as beautiful as it is MASSIVE. It definitely is a WIDE-BODY on Michigan Avenue. It used to be Peoples Gas Company offices and it was built in 1911 designed by the great Daniel Burnham. It is now home to National Louis University since 1999.
Ok, the address numbers ... small, golden, semi-bold decorative serif - understated and beautiful. Since it's a wide building, there are multiple numbers at different doorways, so if you didn't see this one, you can't miss the other two.
122 South (detail)
Lovely curly number two's with narrow width and semi-tear-drop end terminals. Those are definitely the original numbers and they work so well with the design of the entrance-way.