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Time Capsules Discovered At Tribune Tower Feature Decades-Old Photos, Newspaper Clips — And A Possible ‘Black Sox’ Baseball

The items in the time capsules, some more than 100 years old, will now go to the Chicago History Museum.

The Tribune Tower, 435 N. Michigan Ave., as seen from the Chicago River on a Wendella Chicago Architecture Tour on Oct. 20, 2021.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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STREETERVILLE — Three time capsules full of historical Chicago items — some more than 100 years old — were recently opened after being found in the old Tribune Tower.

The capsules contained more than 100 items, including an unraveled baseball possibly from the 1919 “Black Sox” World Series, copies of the Tribune, a press stamp from a 1907 political cartoon from Pulitzer Prize winner John T. McCutcheon, war cartoons from 1942 and motion pictures set to recordings of speeches from owner/publisher Robert McCormick, according to a news release.

The items will be donated to the Chicago History Museum, 1601 N. Clark St.

They were found near the front doors to the old Tribune Tower printing press building, which was built in 1920; in Tribune Tower, completed in 1925; and in the WGN Radio building finished in 1950, said Lee Golub, managing principal of Golub & Company, which bought the building in 2016.

Credit: Provided.
A time capsule from 1925 gets removed from the Tribune Tower.

The Tribune newsroom moved out of the building in 2018, making way for the developers’ plans.

Golub said Tribune Tower underwent a “total gut job” between 2018 and 2021, but the building’s lobby was preserved and landmarked.

Construction workers discovered the time capsules around 2018, although they weren’t opened until recently, Golub said.

The time capsule from the main tower includes all 263 submissions for the 1922 Tribune Tower design competition, which offered a $50,000 first-place prize for “the most beautiful and distinctive office building in the world,” Golub said. 

The contest was won by New York architects John Mead Howells and Raymond Hood, who planned the distinctive neo-Gothic tower with flying buttresses. McCormick took tremendous pride in the building and outfitted the exterior with stones from all over the world. He died in 1955.

Credit: Provided.
A guest book from one of the Tribune Tower time capsules.

The old Tribune newsroom is part of a six-story courtyard for residents, and McCormick’s iconic 24th-floor office is a living room, Golub said.

Golub said the renovation “keeps the history of the building intact” with the landmarked lobby and homages to the Tribune. 

“The adaptive reuse of buildings is basically a function of obsolescence,” Golub said. “Today, from the newspaper standpoint, obviously it’s a dying breed, it [the time capsule] brings and shows how influential a newspaper was back then, especially the Tribune.”

Credit: Provided.
Old Chicago Tribune newspapers filled the time capsules.
Credit: Provided.
The WGN radio time capsule is believed to be from 1947.
Credit: Provided.
Books and recordings by Robert R. McCormick were in the time capsules discovered at his iconic tower.

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