Century Tower in Chicago

Photo of Century Tower in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation

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Century Tower
Formerly:Skyline Century of Progress
Formerly:The Lake and Wells Building
Formerly:The 201 Tower
Formerly:Corn Products Building
Formerly:Trustees System Service Building

182 West Lake Street, Chicago, Illinois, The Loop 60601
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At one time, this art deco gem did a respectable job holding its own in the Chicago skyline of the early 20th century. Now, thanks in large part to an addition to the Builder's Building in 1986, it is cut off from the Chicago River and is rapidly vanishing from consciousness. Indeed, to view this building requires a trip to the top of a neighboring parking garage, as street-level viewing is disrupted by the grand union of elevated rail tracks that run along its southern and western sides. What made this building stand out in its day was more than the stylized corn cob at its pinnacle. It was the unusual colored brick. Its upper levels have an orange color that appears normal to look at until you compare it to its limestone and granite-clad brothers. In 2004, lights were added to highlight the building's architectural details at night. These used bulbs cast an additional orange hue, making this seem even more like the Ghost of Halloween Past. The main body of the building is covered with unusual purple bricks above four stores of limestone.
This building's past, however, is firmly rooted in the banking industry. At one time there was a modest-sized bank called the "Trustee System" and this building was erected as its headquarters. Although the Trustee System sign is still carved into the Lake Street facade, the bank itself didn't last long. It folded in the great stock market crash, and there were riots on Lake Street as penniless investors demanded their money back. Today there are only a few clues to let you know this was once a bank building. Most prominent are the stone panels on what was once the main banking entrance. They depict historic themes with phrases like "With gold, commerce was carried across the sea." These were created by Gwen and E. Van Breeman Lux. Also keep an eye out for the decorative grille work depicting lumberjacks and such. These are the work of Edgar Miller.

Quick Facts
  • From 1930-1933, there was speakeasy on the 23rd floor called the "Skyline Restaurant," with dancing and live bands on the roof of the building, below the penthouse. That area is now a community skydeck for the residents.
  • August, 2004: This building was used to film scenes from the movie Batman Begins.
  • September, 2005: The building went condo and its name changed to Century Tower.
  • At the time of its completion, this was the tallest reinforced concrete building in the world.
  • This was once the home of WIND(AM) Radio.
  • This was once the home of WJJD(AM) Radio.
  • This was once home to the Belgian consulate.
  • This was once home to the Chinese consulate.
  • This was once home to the Cuban consulate.
  • This was once home to the Dominican consulate.
  • This was once home to the Grecian consulate. *This was once home to the Honduran consulate. *This was once home to the Hungarian consulate. *This was once home to the Italian consulate.
  • This was once home to the Mexican consulate.
  • The red marble used in the lobby is from an ancient Roman quarry in the city of Oran, Algeria.
Did You Know?
  • This was one of the filming locations for the 2005 movie Batman Begins.
  • This was one of the filming locations for the 1959-1963 television series "The Untouchables."
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