121 N. LaSalle Street
The 11-story granite structure is actually one large office building, which serves two purposes. The west wing houses City Hall, and the east belonging to the County. The architectural firm of Holabird & Roche designed the classical building which was built in two phases. The County Building was completed first, in 1908, and City Hall (at a cost of $5 million, about $120 million in today’s dollars) was finished three years later. Why did it take three years to complete City Hall? The city had to wait two years for the state to raise its debt limit! Inside City Hall is where the local government conducts its daily business. The mayor, city clerk, treasurer, aldermen, city departments, city council chambers, all have offices within this massive structure. As one would expect, the County side is where the various departments relating to its matters are transacted.
As one enters City Hall from LaSalle Street, you will notice four relief sculptures created by John Flanagan (1865-1952). Flanagan is best known for designing the Washington U.S. quarter coin, which was issued in 1932. Flanagan’s initials (JF) can be found at the base of Washington’s neck. Of the multitude of issues that confront city government, four of these are featured and represented with plaques. They are: physical training, education, water works and street beautification.
In 2001, a beautiful new garden was added to the roof-top of the west portion of the building (City Hall side) as a way of reducing energy costs and beautifying something that is typically mundane and boring. It was originally conceived under the City’s Urban Heat Island Initiative to test different types of roof-top systems i.e. heating and cooling benefits, reductions in water runoff, air quality and success rates of native vs. non-native vegetation. The garden consists of over 20,000 plants and 150,000 species.