So Long, Santa Fe; Hello Moto

There was quite a brouhaha earlier this year when Motorola Solitions decided to become the latest company to move its employees out of the suburbs and into downtown Chicago.  Not because of all the people, but because Motorola took enough space in the former Railway Exchange Building (224 South Michigan Avenue) to get its name on top of the building — bumping the historic Santa Fe sign that had been there since  Union Station united more than just Amtrak and Metra.

For the better part of a week there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth in the architecture and preservationist communities.  Then, it died down and people moved on with their lives.

Now it’s too late to do anything.

Motorola sign on 224 South Michigan Avenue

We took this picture during July 15th, during the Taste of Chicago.  The “Santa Fe” sign actually came down at the beginning of the month, and  now “Motorola” is in its place.

According to the Chicago Tribune, the sign is in storage until it’s decided who gets it: The City of Santa Fe, New Mexico; or the Illinois Railroad Museum.  Santa Fe wants it for some kind of arts installation.  The Illinois Railroad Museum wants it for obvious reasons, but an earlier newspaper article indicated that the museum would just keep it in storage because it doesn’t have the money to actually put it on display.

No matter what happens, it’s another piece of Chicago history that has been co-opted outsiders.  Like Marshall Field’s (Cincinnati), Frango Mints (mostly Pennsylvania), the Sears Tower (now Willis out of London), and Fannie Mae Chocolates (owned by 1-800-Flowers on Long Island).

Author: Editor

Editor founded the Chicago Architecture Blog in 2003, after a long career in journalism. He can be reached at

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