|The County Building to the left, City Hall to the right.|
It can get confusing.
When people say they're going to City Hall to get married, they're really going to the County Building—they're attached. The two buildings looks monolithic, a single structure comprising an entire city block, bounded by Randolph and Washington streets, to the north and south, and Clark and LaSalle, to the east and west.
But they aren't. They are actually two completely separate mirror image buildings, built at different times.
Approach from the northeast and you'll see a cornerstone that says "ANNO DOMINI 1906" -- the County Building, built first, after its predecessor, one day in 1905, suddenly sank 10 inches, ruptured its gas lines and exploded, due to shoddy construction from corrupt, corner-cutting contractors. Its replacement was built and occupied before the City Hall was even begun -- you can see its cornerstone on the southwest, that says "ANNO DOMINI 1909." Though identical, the County Building cost 50 percent more to construct.
The whole often mind-boggling story is laid out in a surprisingly good book, Glory and Government: Chicago's City Hall 100, by Edward M Burke and Thomas J. O'Gorman (Horto Press). Chicago's City Hall has been on that spot, at the corner of Randolph and LaSalle, since the 1840s. And while Burke—yes, that Ed Burke, the city's longest serving alderman—and O'Gorman can be entertaining about the scandals and corruption of years past, for some reason, when they reach the present day, a certain discreet silence settles over them. To be expected, I suppose.