Fine Arts Building Iconic Elevators Undergo Change

News from the Fine Arts Building: The building’s management have begun the process of converting to mechanical elevators over the next few years. Work will begin this fall, with one of the three elevators in service while the third is being updated. Riding in the manual elevators has been part of the CYSO experience and a unique rite of passage for students since we moved to the building in 1959, and we know that many from the CYSO community will be sad to see them go. We will especially miss the operators who are such an integral part of fabric of the Fine Arts Building, but are glad to know we won’t have to say goodbye just yet.

Waclaw Kalata, 63, stands in the lobby of the Fine Arts Building on South Michigan Avenue on Monday, where he has been manually operating the elevators for about 30 years. (Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times)

Check out this article about the change from the Chicago Sun-Times. In it, elevator operator Waclaw Kalata reflects on ferrying CYSO students up and down for the past 30 years:

“’Saturday, I like to work because kids are coming. Kids—they like the elevators.’ By which he means the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras players piling in with their instruments. Capacity is 2,000 pounds, or three double basses and their musicians — fewer if they bring their parents and siblings, he says.”

Waclaw Kalata watches the floors move by as he manually operates an elevator Monday in the Fine Arts Building. (Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times)

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