Cal’s Liquors in transition

Cal's Liquors (Chicago)
Cal’s Liquors, at 400 S. Wells, has been closed for many months.  I’ve been waiting with trepidation to see whether this old, iconic, one-story building would be demolished.

Even those of us who never set foot inside Cal’s may have a fondness for the run-down style of the building and the sameness it stood for.  It’s a vestige of the ‘conveniences’ that sprang up in this part of the South Loop to serve the needs of the denizens of the nearby Board of Trade.  Check out the style of the building, and the way the word “Liquors” is traced out in old-fashioned incandescent lights: this place has been dispensing alcohol to stressed-out traders, and more recently to bike messengers, for many decades.

It was an old-time watering hole, with a full-service bar in the back of the store.  Cal’s trademark neon sign jutted out on the corner for 65 years.  Then, on the last day of 2012, Cal’s Liquors closed.  Its sign came down; its doors were boarded up, its windows covered.

The doors of Cal's Liquor (Chicago), © 2014 Celia Her City

Each day, I would look down at the naked building during my commute, wondering when it would be disappearing.  (It stands just beneath where the el loops around the old Insurance Exchange Building.)

Cal's lights out (Chicago), © 2014 Celia Her City
Crews have appeared, but, happily, their job is to redevelop the building.  It’s getting an additional story, with open-air space for outdoor seating.  I’m glad that someone’s saving it.

That’s it for now.

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