Friday, August 17, 2007

Conflict Fuels the Fields Story

August 18th marks the birthday of legendary businessman Marshall Field, whose most notable legacy to Chicagoans was his eponymous store, Marshall Field's, which had been in Chicago for so long it had become a handsome and beloved landmark on State Street (the distinctive State Street store clock is pictured here).

Recently there has been much controversy over the Field's name; despite much protest from loyal Chicagoans, Fields was re-named Macy's after it was purchased by Federated Department Stores, and those who loved Marshall Field's on State Street felt that more was being taken from them than a store. This was a piece of Chicago history and culture.

The State Street Macy's store, by all reports, is not doing particularly well, and protestors continue to demand that Marshall Field's be re-instated. There's even a website which urges people to join the crusade to bring back Field's.

Of course Field is known for another Chicago landmark--the Field Museum, to which he gave one million dollars in 1905, and to which he bequeathed another eight million in his will.

One wonders what Field would think of the store controversy; it's hard to believe he wouldn't be proud, not only of the fact that the store existed for so long, but that people loved it so much that they fought to see it restored to its former glory.


Anonymous said...

Field's generosity and leadership gave Chicago more than just the Field Museum... Field's is also responsible for the Museum of Science and Industry, the Shedd Aquarium (named after Field's chairman John G. Shedd), the Art Institute of Chicago, the University of Chicago and much, much more over Field's 154 year reign.

Field's operated at a loss to keep employees on the payroll during the great depression, even completing construction and operating the Merchandise Mart to demonstrate its commitment to the city. Furthermore, Field's led the charge to help Chicago to rebuild after the Chicago fire.

Through changes in ownership, Field's generosity and commitment to Chicago earned the fierce loyalty of customers. Field's represented Chicago to the world and Field's State Street store alone attracted more than 9 Million customers each year prior to Macy's takeover making it Chicago's third most popular tourist destination. Now as Macy's, the store is a ghost town and Field's customers avoid it like the plague.

Julia Buckley said...

Wow! I did not realize that Field was behind all of those pieces of Chicago culture.

These are very poignant details--thanks, anonymous!