Century Tower in Chicago

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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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Your Thoughts

There are nine comments.

  I have been an owner since 2008 and love it. The support staff is magnificent and the new management team is awesome. Great location for one who loves the Loop.

L I - Sunday, April 17th, 2011 @ 7:12pm  

  I'm an owner now for 2yrs. and I can say that I love it. I work at the airport and do not have a car so accessability to trains is important and this location delivers. The train noise is a little crazy, but you do get used to it and I hardly notice anymore. The building was gutted a few years ago (plumbing, electrical) supposedly and I can say that I've never had any issues with either. I think that since it's an older building, its a little more solid and the walls/floors are thicker. I rarely hear neighbors although I can smell what they're having for dinner- the exhaust systems suck.The management is weird- but I do like the working staff and the doormen are always friendly and helpful. I feel pretty safe here and that is important as a single woman. Overall, it's a convenient and a nice place to live.

stacy - Sunday, December 7th, 2008 @ 9:35am  

  This is an excellent building to live in. Clean, safe and walking distance to alot of places. Anywhere that you will live will have some minor problems but its how and how fast they get resolved is what matters.... and here the management is on top of things but please keep in mind that this building is on the busiest intersection of the L-train............. a small price to pay to be able to work in 5min.

Chest Rockwell - Saturday, August 30th, 2008 @ 12:06pm  

  The only positive thing about Century Tower at 182 W Lake St is the convenient walk to and from work.To list the negatives:-Pipes that sound off all hours of the evening, typically 8pm-12am and then again early morning at 5am. Vibrations so icredibly loud in some units it sounds like jack-hammering through the walls. Counter tops shake and metal hardware found in kitchen/bathrooms crash as well. Brought issue to property mgr and this still has not been fixed...going on 2 months now, but have been experiencing it August 2007. Have spoken with numerous individuals from floors 25, all the way down to 11 and they all here this noise as well.-24 hr doorman that does not consistently call residents to announce visitors. At times will come home after work to a lobby door left wide open for anyone to enter and no doorman in sight.-11/14/07 cops were on location at 9:30pm due to a break in/robbery reported on the 18th floor, but property mngt nor the staff facilitated this information to tenants. Kept very quiet.-In all honesty, it's dormatory living with a $1000+ price tag. You'll come home to loud music at times, neighbors yelling at times and heavy construction noise on street level consistently. Not to mention the patrons leaving Wet Bar on Wed, Thurs and Sun evenings.These are the facts from a resident who has been at this location for 1.5 years.

Nikki - Friday, November 16th, 2007 @ 5:54pm  

  Support staff is good. But management is poor. As someone rightly said that they treat you as second class citizen. I got this feeling based on repeated occurances.All the doormen are nice (except couple of old timers)I have stayed here for 1.5 years. Place is good. cta trains/buses are at doorstep. Noise of train can disturb you initially then you will become habitual of that :)

Ashish - Monday, May 21st, 2007 @ 1:10pm  

  The managemnt is terrible. They will treat you bad and make you feel like 2nd class citizens...just a warning

john - Sunday, March 18th, 2007 @ 12:54am  

  its art deco. I love it.

kirby - Thursday, December 7th, 2006 @ 8:49pm  

  I'm purchasing a condo this Sunday. American Invsco has converted the apartment units into condos. I'm looking forward to it even though there won't be a nice view to speak of. Oh well...

Alex Pronove - Friday, August 25th, 2006 @ 11:48pm