Tribune Tower in Chicago

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

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Tribune Tower
Also known as:Cathedral of Commerce

435 North Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Illinois, Streeterville 60611
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Inspired by the Button Tower of the cathedral at Rouen, France, the Tribune Tower exemplifies the way American architects have elevated office buildings to sacred status. Newspaper publisher Colonel Robert R. McCormick held a $50,000.00 international competition to design, "the most beautiful and eye-catching office building in the world." In some estimations, it succeeded. The tower has all of the traditional elements of a skyscraper plus heritage expressed in flying buttresses, spires, grotesques, and more. The base of the Tribune Tower contains 120 stones from important locations all around the world, including the Parthenon, in Greece; the pyramids, in Egypt; the Taj Mahal, in India; the Alamo, in San Antonio; the Great Wall of China; and Injun Joe Cave in Missouri.

Quick Facts
Timeline
  • 1 February, 1989: Tribune Tower was named an official Chicago Landmark.
  • 11 October, 2004: The McCormick Tribune Foundation announced that Tribune Tower will be the new home of an as-yet-unnamed museum about American freedom with a concentration on the First Amendment.
  • 1 December, 2004: The competition to name the new museum at Tribune Tower ended.
  • 1 April, 2005: Groundbreaking for the Freedom Museum at Tribune Tower.
  • April, 2006: The McCormick Tribune Freedom Museum opened in the space formerly occupied by a Hammacher Schlemmer store. Officially, the space is the WGN-TV Building, though the television station is no longer located there. The museum cost $10 million to build.
  • May 17, 2006: Stones from the Sydney Opera House were added to the facade. They were presented by Janette Howard, the wife of Australian Prime Minister John Howard.
  • January 30, 2009: The McCormick Freedom Museum announced it is leaving this building to become a mobile museum.
  • September, 2010: This building was named #21 on Chicago Magazine's list of the Top 40 Buildings in Chicago.
Notes
  • The 24th floor was the office of legendry Tribune publisher Colonel Robert R. McCormick. He had a hidden staricase installed that would allow him to escape to a secret hideaway in the event the building was stormed.
  • In the lobby of this building is a giant relief map of the United States made out of shredded money.
  • The main lobby of the Tribune Tower is known as the Hall of Inscriptions. It is lined with famous quotations about the free press.
  • The sculpture of Nathan Hale outside this building's main entrance is identical to another sculpture of Hale at the headquarters of the C.I.A. in Virginia. Hale was the first American spy who was caught by an enemy.
Did You Know?
  • The Tribune Tower was once used as a carillon. However, it was electronic, not mechanical, and is no longer in service.
Tourist Tips
  • WGN Radio has its studios on the ground floor of the Tribune Tower. You can watch the local talk shows live through the glass windows.
  • You can dial 312-222-TOUR from any phone to listen to a series of audio tours about the building.
Look For
    Stones from famous landmarks around the world embedded in the facade, including:
  • The place where the explorers Marquette and Joliet landed in Louisa County, Iowa
  • Gasse Point in Warwick, Rhode Island
  • Old Swedes Episcopal Church in Wilmington, Delaware
  • Roanoke Island in North Carolina
  • Scotch Tom Nelson House in Virginia
  • A fur trading post in Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin
  • Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut
  • Stockholm City Hall in Stockholm, Sweden
  • Fort William and Mary in New Hampshire
  • Sibyl's Cave in Naples, Italy
  • John Brown's Fort in Harper's Ferry, West Virginia
  • Lake Champlain in Vermont
  • Andersonville National Historic Site in Georgia, labeled "Andersonville Prison"
  • Custer Battlefield National Monument in Montana
  • Fort McHenry in Maryland
  • New Orleans, Louisiana
  • The Cumberland Gap in Tennessee
  • Petra, with the historic label "Arabia" instead of Jordan.
  • Put-in-Bay, Ohio
  • Aachen City Hall, in Germany
  • Pearl Harbor, Hawaii
  • The Shirley House in Vicksburg, Mississippi
  • Fort Brady in Sault Saint Marie, Michigan
  • An indian town on a bluff above Montgomery, Alabama
  • Elijah Lovejoy's home in Albion, Maine
  • The WGN Building cornerstone
  • Omaha Beach in Normandy, France.
  • The Seminaire de Quebec in Quebec City, Quebec
  • The location where the explorer Hernando de Soto landed in Arkansas
  • An historic gate in Suwon, South Korea
  • The Remagen Bridge in Germany
  • City Hall in Saint Lo, France
  • Bloody Nose Ridge in Peleliu, Palau. Labeled with the historic name "Carolina Islands."
  • Mount Tapochau in the Northern Mariana Islands. Labeled with the historic name "Marianas Islands"
  • Potsdam City Palace in Germany
  • One of the two historic gates in Aachen, Germany
  • The Kwajalein Atol in the MArshall Islands
  • Christ Church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • The Powder Tower in Riga, Latvia
  • The Lincoln Home National Historic Site in Springfield, Illinois
  • Beaumaris Castle in Aglesey, Wales
  • The Union Stock Yards Gate in Chicago
  • Fort Sumter near Charleston, South Carolina
  • The Spasskaya Tower at the Kremlin in Moscow. Labeled "Tainitzkaya Tower."
  • Bunker Hill in Charlestown, Massachusetts
  • The World's Columbian Exposition of 1893 in Chicago
  • The Castillo de San Marcos in Saint Augustine, Florida. Labeled with the historic name "Fort Marion."
  • The old McCormick Home in Chicago
  • Douglas Hall at the Old University of Chicago in Chicago
  • Mount McKinley in Alaska
  • Rocks from the grotto beneath the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, believed to be where Jesus Christ was born. These are on display inside the building.
  • Saint John's Episcopal Church in Richmond, Virginia
  • The White House in Washington, DC
  • The Kensington Runestone in Solem, Minnesota
  • The Colosseum in Rome, Italy
  • The Stabian Baths in Pompeii, Italy
  • Badlands National Park in South Dakota.
  • A Revolutionary War battlefield in Princeton, New Jersey
  • The location where Washington crossed the Delaware near Trenton, New Jersey
  • The Cathedral of Notre Dame in Reims, France. Labeled "Reims Cathedral."
  • A Revolutionary War battlefield in Trenton, New Jersey
  • The Leiden American Pilgrim Museum in The Netherlands. Labeled "House in Leyden, Holland."
  • Mount Pentelicus in Greece
  • The fortress at Cartagena, Columbia
  • The Cathedral of Notre Dame in Rouen, France
  • The Church of Santo Domingo in Panama City, Panama
  • The Berlin Wall in Germany
  • Kronborg Castle in Helsingør, Denmark. Labeled "Hamlet's Castle, Elsinore, Denmark."
  • The Suleymaniye Mosque in Istanbul
  • The former World Trade Center in New York
  • The Ehrenbreitstein Fortress near Koblenz, Germany
  • A bridge in The Forbidden City, Beijing. Labeled "Peking."
  • The Sydney Opera House in Sydney, Australia
  • Saint Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna, Austria
  • Abraham Lincoln's original tomb in Springfield, Illinois
  • An unidentified shrine in Tokyo, possibly the Meiji Shrine.
  • Leptis Magna in Libya
  • The Taj Mahal in Agra, India
  • The Alamo in San Antonio, Texas
  • The Nidaros Cathedral in Trondhjem, Norway. Labeled "Trondhjem Cathedral"
  • The Wartburg Castle near Eisenach, Germany
  • The Great Wall of China
  • Saint Michael's Monastery in Kiev, Ukraine
  • Saint Peter's Basilica in Rome, Italy
  • The Ta Prohm Temple in Angkor, Cambodia
  • The Banteay Srei temple in Angkor, Cambodia
  • The pyramids at Giza, Egypt
  • The Palace of Westminster. Labeled "House of Parliament."
  • Saint Peter's Basilica in Vatican City. Labeled "St. Peter's Cathedral, Rome, Italy."
  • Fort Ticonderoga in New York
  • Grouseland in Vincennes, Indiana. Labeled "William Henry Harrison Mansion."
  • Mark Twain Cave in Hannibal, Missouri. Labeled "Mark Twin's 'Injun Joe' Cave."
  • Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky
  • Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • John Brown's Cabin in Osawatomie, Kansas
  • Antarctica
  • The International Peace Garden in North Dakota
  • Chimney Rock National Historic Site in Nebraska
  • Princeton University in Princeton, New Jersey
  • The walls of Londonderry, Northern Ireland
  • The Orote Peninsula in Guam
  • The Petrified Forest in Calistoga, California
  • The beach at Anzio, Italy
  • Fort Clatsop near Astroia, Oregon
  • The Palace of Westminster in London. Labeled "House of Commons."
  • The Hans Christian Andersen home in Denmark
  • Corregidor Island in Manilla, The Philippines
  • Santa Maria Island in the Azores
  • Osaka Castle. Labeled "Golden Castle, Osaka, Japan."
  • The Reichschancellery in Berlin, Germany
  • Mount Rainier, Washington
  • Massachusetts Hall at Harvard University, New Haven, Connecticut
  • The Chateau de Chillon in Switzerland.
  • Westminster Abbey in London
  • Edinburgh Castle in Scotland
  • Pevensey Castle in East Sussex, England
  • Wawel Castle in Krakow, Poland
  • The Stockholm Palace in Sweden
  • A quote from Milton
  • Cologne Cathedral in Germany
  • Fort San Antonio de Abad in Manilla, The Philippines
  • The Parthenon in Athens, Greece
  • Cologne Cathedral in Germany
  • The moon
  • The Sant Lucia Barracks in Manilla, The Philippines
  • The Tower of David in Jerusalem
  • Fort Santiago in Manilla, The Philippines
  • Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France
  • A temple in the Henan Province of China. Labeled "Ancient Temple, Honan Province, China."
  • The Dublin General Post Office in Dublin, Ireland
  • The Winter Palace in the Forbidden City in Beijing. Labeled "Peking."
  • A temple in the Forbidden City in Beijing. Labeled "Peking."
  • Haghia Sophia in Istanbul, Turkey. Labeled "Santa Sophia, Constantinople, Turkey."
  • A temple in the Forbidden City in Beijing. Labeled "Peking."
  • Roman ruins in Birecik, Turkey
  • L'Arc de Triomphe in Paris, France
  • The World War I Montsed American Memorial in Thiacourt, France. Labeled "Mont Sec Memorial, St. Mihiel, France"
  • Clementine Hall in Vatican City. Incorrectly labeled "Pope's Residence."
  • A Viking monument from the Malar Lake Valley of Sweden
  • Flodden Field near Branxton, England
  • The Weeping Tower in Amsterdam. Labeled "Tower of Tears."
  • The Washoe County Courthouse in Reno, Nevada. Labeled "Reno Courthouse."
  • Salt Lake Temple in Salt Lake City, Utah. Labeled "Mormon Temple."
  • Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve in Idaho
  • Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming and Montana
  • Aztec Ruins National Monument in New Mexico
  • Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona
  • The Mesa Verde cliff dwellings in Montezuma County, Colorado
  • The Miraflores Locks in Panama
  • The Boston Avenue Methodist Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma
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Your Thoughts

There are eight comments.

  OMG! I had no idea there were 120 stones from around the world set into the Tribune Tower!The fine folks of Chicago are very happy & friendly. I plan on visiting Chicago again as one needs a lot of time to see it all in this BEAUTIFUL city! Thanks! Juli ;)

LOVE Chicago's architecture! - Wednesday, March 31st, 2010 @ 1:35pm  

  After 40 years it looks even more beautiful today.

randi - Thursday, August 13th, 2009 @ 10:51am  

  To answer gladys c, we do. The building at 181 West Madison Street in downtown Chicago, is to compliment this building. Even they floodlit their skyscraper's top at night. 311 South Wacker Drive lights their building at night with 2,000 Flourescent Tubes and was designed to setback from Wacker Drive.

Brent Kampert - Friday, May 1st, 2009 @ 11:48am  

  I like the shape and design of this building, even when the top of the tower is floodlit at night.

Brent Kampert - Thursday, November 20th, 2008 @ 12:15pm  

  I love this building! As a chicagoian this is definately one of my favorite buildings to admire.

Emily - Wednesday, April 25th, 2007 @ 10:46pm  

  The tower of the cathedral of Rouen (Normandy, France) which inspired the Tribune Tower is the Butter Tower, la tour du Beurre built in 15th century in the late gothic style called flamboyant. It was named Butter tower because its construction was paid with the money people gave to the church to get the right to eat butter and milk during Lent.

Sophie Ould-Ferhat - Thursday, April 27th, 2006 @ 6:14pm  

  After my visit to Chicago, my only criticism is the inscription below the stone from Flodden Field which states that it was a Scotch-English Battle 1513 Northumberland England. I was born a few miles north of the battle site in a town called Coldstream (in Scotland) and know that all Scottish people will be upset that it is inscribed as a stone from a Scotch - English Battle instead of a Scottish - English Battle (we think of Scotch as a drink!)

Patricia McClymont - Wednesday, January 5th, 2005 @ 5:58pm  

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