Take in the sweep of the buildings along the Chicago River! You’d be a rare person, indeed, if your eye weren’t drawn to 35 East Wacker Drive. Vintage 1927, this building screams character. High art deco, the ornamentation is bound to bring a smile to your face.
Originally named the Jewelers Building, this beauty housed craftspersons working with precious stones and fine watches. For the safety of delivery drivers, the building once had an elevator able to lift an armored car to any floor! The elevator is gone, the floor space converted to ordinary offices. The large, outdoor clock features a statue of Father Time; it was said to be connected electrically to the Elgin Watch Company, and therefore fabled to have the most accurate time in the city. During Prohibition, a speakeasy called the Stratosphere Club operated in the cupola. The decorated towers in the corners of the building stored water for the building’s fire suppression system.
I worked on the 34th floor of this building for a time in the late 70s. The highlight of the week was noon on Tuesday, when, like clockwork, the Medusa Challenger grandly made its way up the river. This steaming freighter, the length of a football field, required the bascule bridges to open, one after the other. Traffic stopped, tempers flared, but deep down inside, we loved the show. So not only does the building delight my eyes, but it brings me back to younger days, and memories of the Medusa.
Guest Post written by Chicago Guide, Michael Wilensky