Chicago architecture nicely showcased in a pair of vintage TV commercials

April 1, 2013

Chicago shows off quite nicely in television commercials and these pair of TV spots from nearly 35 years ago underscore that point.

The first commercial, from 1980, is for the old American National Bank. The spot shows a brisk, fast-paced city where deals are made and business is handled--the perfect setting for "the bank for business." Marina City and the then-IBM Building make an early appearance as they are approached in a point-of-view shot taken from a moving L train. There's a nice eastward view down the main branch of the Chicago River toward Michigan Avenue.

Listen to the commercial's score--it's pretty darn good--and how it punctuates the bank's slogan at the end. I wonder how many industries represented in the commercial still exist here today, though. Especially that bottling plant and the printing company. First Chicago Bank acquired American National in 1984, but allowed the bank to retain its name.The former Bank One (now Chase) later swallowed First Chicago and did away with the American National name in 2002.

American National's Chicago headquarters at 33 N. LaSalle is seen at the end of the commercial.

On to the next one...

In the commercial below from 1979, an actor portraying a Chicago firefighter goes wild over his new red '79 Pontiac Firebird. (And who wouldn't? Although I liked Jim Rockford's better. But still.) Look closely, and you'll see Engine Co. 98, a classic building, 202 E. Chicago, with architecture that matches the nearby historic Chicago Water Tower and Pumping Station.

At the :09 mark, you can glimpse the sculpted base of the modernist American Dental Association, 211 E. Chicago, across the street from the station. Built in 1965, the 23-story modernist high-rise is one the last major buildings by one-time architectural giant Graham Anderson Probst & White:

Both clips come courtesy of the highly-addictive YouTube page of the Museum of Classic Television.