Throwback Thursday: Gleacher Center


Our downtown Chicago location has seen a lot of the city’s history unfold over the past two centuries. Being situated in our Streeterville location, right off of Michigan Avenue and next to the Chicago River and the Columbus Drive bridge, means that what is today 450 Cityfront Plaza has long been at the epicenter of change and development. Like many spots in the city, our location has had many makeovers during its lifetime, and in the scheme of things, Gleacher Center as we know it is fairly new to the block.

If you’ve ever wondered what stood before the Gleacher Center campus was built, are interested in Chicago’s rich history, or just love vintage photographs, take a trip back in time with us!

Photo of Hibbard, Spencer, and Barlett building1926 - THE HIBBARD, SPENCER, BARTLETT, AND CO. WAREHOUSE BUILDING 

The first building on the Gleacher Center site was the Hibbard, Spencer, Bartlett, and Co. Warehouse. Constructed in 1926, it was built to serve as a warehouse storage facility for the company’s hardware supplies. At the time, the 14-story, 900,000-square foot structure was the country’s largest warehouse that solely stored hardware. The company’s legacy is tied to their True Value product line (sound familiar?) released in the 1940s. The True Value trademark was sold along with the company in 1963.

Mandel-Lear building


The warehouse was acquired by the Mandel Brothers department store in 1946 after Hibbard, Spencer, Barlett, and Co. relocated outside of Chicago. Boasting of its “very attractive rentals,” the chain leased space in the building to several businesses, including Max Factor Co. and Encyclopedia Britannica. Prior to its 1989 demolition, the building was temporarily home to the Chicago Public Library’s central location before construction on the Harold Washington Library was finished.

Photo of Gleacher Center1994 - GLEACHER CENTER 

The structure that houses the Chicago Booth Evening MBA and Weekend MBA Programs was built in 1994 on the former site of the Mandel-Lear Building. In 1996, following a $15 million grant by Eric Gleacher, ’67, the facility was given its current name.

Earning a Part-Time MBA at Chicago Booth is often described as a “transformative” experience. It seems like our location might describe its history that way too.