Throwback Thursday
The Shiny New Apple on North Michigan Avenue

Apple Store North Michigan Avenue - Chicago, Illinois - March, 2010 - 002a

How well do you remember 2003?  It was the year that 13 people were killed and 57 hurt when a porch collapsed in Lincoln Park.  R.E.M. played the United Center.  And in one of the most Mayor Daley events in Mayor Daley history, Mayor Daley ordered a team of bulldozers to destroy Meigs Field airport in the middle of the night.

It was also the year that Apple (then called Apple Computer) opened its Chicago flagship store at 679 North Michigan Avenue.  It is store number 59, and the only Apple Store with an Apple logo-shaped window.

Meigs Field

How to close an airport the Chicago way.

I missed the June opening because Tribune had not yet moved me from my paint warehouse loft in Houston to a proper urban penthouse in The Loop.  But I was there soon after, and in the long-gone Borders cafe across the street this blog was born.

Back then the eMac was still a thing.  So was the PowerBook.  Both flew out the door like proverbial hotcakes from the store where three years later, the first Product (RED) iPod nanos would be sold and Oprah and Bono were famously photographed sharing earbuds (see the picture here), but nobody could get close enough to ask what was on the playlist.

Soon the Apple Store that was the height of Steve Jobs’ retail aesthetic will be no more.  The post-Jobs Apple is busy right now building a magnificent new semi-underground shopping experience a few blocks south.  And right now the best guess is that the old Apple Store, and everything else on the western half of the block, will be bulldozed to make way for something grander.  Better.  Taller.


Since you’ve probably forgotten, this was an eMac. And that flap in front folds down so you could put compact things inside it called “discs,” which you never used because of a couple of things called Napster and LimeWire.

Until then, wallow in the press release below.  Apple sent it out in 2003, touting the magnificence of the new Apple Store.  Think about how primitive your computer was back then.  And wonder why we never got the internet cafe that Apple promised us.

Apple to Open High Profile Retail Store on North Michigan Avenue in Chicago

CHICAGO—June 26, 2003— Apple® will open its first high profile retail store in downtown Chicago, at 679 North Michigan Avenue, tomorrow night at 6:00 p.m. CDT.

“In just two years Apple has changed the face of computer retailing and we are now bringing that experience to one of the best shopping streets in the U.S.—North Michigan Avenue in Chicago,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO.

The Apple Store North Michigan Avenue will feature:

  • an Internet cafe where visitors can check email and use Apple’s new iChat™ AV and iSight™ digital video cameras to video conference with friends and family;
  • a class Studio that overlooks an eco-friendly greenroof garden;
  • a forty-foot long Genius Bar, one of the most popular sections of Apple retail stores, where anyone can ask the Mac® “Genius” questions, connect to the Mac community or receive service;
  • more than 300 customer events every month including new “Genius Bar Unplugged” technical sessions taught at the Genius Bar and a Studio Series of hands-on classes*;
  • “solution centers” for music, photography and movies, where visitors can learn about the latest Apple solutions for digital photography, music and movies including the iTunes® Music Store and ultra-portable iPods;
  • an expanded kids section with seven computer stations connected to the Internet;
  • a software section with hundreds of software titles for the Mac; and
  • a 48-seat theater, where customers can watch demonstrations of Apple’s latest innovations, take classes and attend “Made on a Mac” events.

Apple opened its first retail store in May 2001 and currently has 58 stores in 26 states in the U.S. Since Apple opened its first retail store in May 2001, Apple retail stores have hosted more than 17 million visitors.

At the Apple store, knowledgeable sales people are available to help customers learn about the revolutionary iTunes Music Store and new ultra-portable iPods. The hands-on Apple store experience provides visitors access to the latest Mac computer systems including the 12-inch and 17-inch PowerBook® G4 notebooks, iMac® and eMac™ running innovative digital lifestyle applications like iPhoto™, iDVD™, iTunes and iMovie™, as well as Mac® OS X, Apple’s revolutionary new operating system.

Apple ignited the personal computer revolution in the 1970s with the Apple II and reinvented the personal computer in the 1980s with the Macintosh. Apple is committed to bringing the best personal computing experience to students, educators, creative professionals and consumers around the world through its innovative hardware, software and Internet offerings.

Location: 679 North Michigan Avenue, Gold Coast

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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