Kellogg School of Management | Groups
Student Guide to 1871

What is 1871 and why is it a big deal?

Located on the 12th floor of the Merchandise Mart (222 W Merchandise Mart Plaza #470, Chicago, IL 60654/ Purple and Brownline stop accessible), 1871 is the premier Tech Hub for the Chicago Startup scene. It gets it's name from the year after the Chicago Fire when Chicago looked forward towards rebuilding and redesigning.

It is a 50,000 square foot space that encourages collaboration, design thinking through multiple offices, shared space, conference rooms, classrooms, event space, cafes and kitchens. Additionally, while the entrepreneurs mainly occupy the 1st level, the 2nd floor is primarely composed of VC firms such as MATH venture partners. 

How do you get access?

Northwestern has a dedicated room which current students can use. Below are the steps on how to get access to the Northwestern room in 1871.

1) Get to 1871 (12th floor of Merchandise Mart)

Located in the Loop, getting to 1871 isn't a hassle. It is located on the 12th floor of the Merchandise Mart (222 W Merchandise Mart Plaza #470, Chicago, IL 60654. Here are some public transportation routes to get here:

  • Brown line- Merchandise Mart stop
  • Purple line- Merchase Mart stop
  • Blue line- Clark and lake, walk north on Wells St and cross the river
  • Red line- Get off at State/Lake, walk west on Lake and north on Wells to cross the river
  • Metra- Get off at Ogilville and follow Wacker north (along the river) until you get to Wells and walk north across the river
After you get out of the elevator banks, turn right and you will see a big 1871 lit up sign.

2) Get a key card

Northwestern has 5 key cards on reserve at 1871. You'll have to drop off your WildCard, but you get access for up to 4 hours at a time (renewing after 4 hours is fine).

Keycards MUST be returned to the lockbox when you leave 1871 at the end of your reserved time. A $20 fee will be assessed for missing cards. On the day of your reservation, at the time your reservation starts, you can check the calendar for additional availability that day. If there is availability, then you can add time in 2-hour blocks for that day only. You may reserve space on regular days/times (i.e. Tuesdays from 12 to 4 p.m.), but only for 2 weeks at a time. You will only have access to spaces in the common areas, shared conference rooms, and the Northwestern office.

2) Sit in the common area or find the Northwestern room


Room 1.13, you can access this by walking in to the 1871 common area and turning right on the 2nd hallway. There, you will see other schools with their own rooms (e.g. University of Chicago, IIT, Depaul). You will need your key card to open the door. Also, please note that other students may be using the room too and it is designed for current Northwestern students. Additionally, you can sit in the open space too and mingle. 


Regardless if you have an idea or not, 1871 is a beautiful space and we encourage you to check it out while you're at Northwestern.

Got a question? Email us and we'll get back to you