In just a few days, only a ghost-like outline of the letters will likely remain.
The 30 letters — plus two hyphens — that make up the Chicago Sun-Times signs on the exterior of the 350 N. Orleans St. building are coming down as the newspaper makes the move to renovated space at 30 N. Racine Ave.
The work began about 11:30 a.m. Monday with workers Eddie Lindquist and Efren Chavez making the slow climb some 200 feet straight up the west side of the building in a 30-foot-long motorized platform called a “swing stage.”
It’s a big job, expected to last about 10 days. Lindquist loaded his blue-and-white lunch box and coffee flask on board as he and Chavez set off. He was unfazed by the suddenly cooler temperatures Monday.
“You want to be able to move around freely,” said Lindquist, with only a hoodie beneath his safety harness.
The letters — made of an aluminum casing — each contain about 90 feet of fluorescent lighting as well as a transformer. Each is bolted to the wall.
No one was quite sure Monday how much each weighs — because the removal crew didn’t install the letters back in 2004. They guessed about 150 pounds per letter. Crews have also estimated each letter to be about 12 feet tall — although the south-facing ones are bigger than the west-facing ones.
The Sun-Times plans to donate the “Chicago” parts of the sign to the city with the same name.
“We appreciate the donation of these iconic letters. The sign’s future use has not been determined but we look forward to utilizing it in a way that reflects its history and celebrates Chicago,” said mayoral spokesman Grant Klinzman.
“While it’s bittersweet to see the letters come down, everyone here is excited about the move to our new home in the West Loop and the new capabilities we will have once we move,” Sun-Times CEO Edwin Eisendrath said.
When crews have finished on the west side of the building, they plan to move to the letters on the building’s south side.