State Street is known for destination shopping in Chicago. Before the world famous Michigan Ave, State Street was the number one shopping attraction. Frank Sinatra even loved State Street, referring to “State Street, that great street” in his classic song, Chicago. But how and why did State Street develop into Chicago’s retail district?
Historically, State Street has always been a retail gateway, it was apart of an Indian trail, which was called the Hubbard’s Trail and connected Chicago with trading outposts. The growth and development of State Street starts in the 1860’s when Potter Palmer, a businessman convinced Marshall Field and Levi Leiter to join his successful dry goods store. Palmer sold his shares of the store and continued to develop real estate on State Street. Today we know this store as Marshal Fields, which is now owned by Macy’s. Palmer was an enterprising man, who built the Palmer Hotel (Palmer Hilton Hotel) as a wedding present for his wife and after it burned down from the Great Chicago Fire, he rebuilt a grander hotel. In 1897, Thomas Edison filmed State Street and stated that it was “The busiest corner in Chicago. Cable cars and street traffic of all descriptions. Hundreds of shoppers. Fine perspective view looking north toward the Masonic Temple.” Take a look of the bustling State Street filmed by Edison below: