Keep an eye out for the famous Weather Bell

Keep an eye out for the famous Weather Bell

Have you ever noticed that really stranger weather thingy on the Walgreens at the corner of Clark and Monroe? It has lights on it and options that say ‘no change,’ ‘warmer,’ ‘colder,’ ‘snow’ and ‘rain.’ Seems pretty dumb to me, but it looks like it’s been there for a long time so I of course had to look it up. And since we’re about to hit crazy weather season, I figured I’d give you a little weather know-how for this week’s ‘Did You Know, Chicago?’.

That weird thingy is known as the Weather Bell, an advertising move from the former Bell Federal Savings & Loan Chicago. It changes color when the temperature has gotten colder, warmer or not changed at all. The bell popped up in the 1950s when Bell Federal moved its headquarters to Clark and Monroe.

There were as many as nine weather bells throughout the city in the ’60s, and they were all controlled from the main bank based on information gathered from a private weather service. The Clark and Monroe bell is the last active bell. The second to last one, located at 180 N Michigan, closed in 1997.

(Bell Federal Savings & Loan was founded by employees at the former Illinois Bell Telephone company. It started as a small savings and loan in the 1920s.)

Obviously, the building hasn’t been Bell Federal Savings & Loan for quite sometime. Even though it’s now a Walgreens, the bell still changes color under its current owner, Bank of America Corp.

In typical 1960s advertising fashion, there was a kicky jingle to go with the bell:

When Weather Bell is emerald green
No change in temperature is foreseen.
When Weather Bell is glowing red
Warmer weather is ahead.
When Weather Bell is gleaming gold
A temperature drop is foretold
When Weather Bell is in agitation,
Prepare yourself for precipitation.

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