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McCormick Place History

- Jan 10, 2018 -

McCormick Place History

McCormick Place is named in honor of Colonel Robert R. McCormick, a controversial and charismatic visionary who served as editor and publisher of the Chicago Tribune. It was Colonel McCormick who spearheaded the drive to build a world-class convention center in the city of Chicago.

Under Colonel McCormick's leadership, the state endorsed construction of a permanent exhibition hall to host conventions and trade shows. Col. McCormick never lived to see his dream become a reality. The facility bearing his name opened in 1960, five years after his death.



Century of Progress Exposition (World's Fair) on the lakefront draws 1,500 conventions and 1.5 million visitors. Unsuccessful attempts are made to build a permanent exposition center.


The city successfully hosts a large railroad exposition, leading Col. McCormick to realize the need for a permanent exhibition hall in Chicago.


With Col. McCormick's leadership, the State imposed a 1% horse racing tax to finance industrial, scientific, educational and cultural fairs and expositions and created the Chicago Park Fair non-profit corporation. After deciding that a permanent hall was needed, the State endorsed the construction of a facility in Burnham Park.


The state approves construction of a 360,000-square-foot exhibition hall and creates the Metropolitan Fair and Exposition Authority, the forerunner to the present Authority, to operate the facility.


The State issued $41.8 million in bonds. Construction started the following year on McCormick Place, to be named in honor of Col. McCormick who died in 1955.


McCormick Place opens. The facility is financed with $41.8 million in revenue bonds. The building features a main exhibit area of 320,000 square feet, 23 meeting rooms and a 5,000-seat theater.

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