35 East Wacker is one of the best buildings in the city of Chicago. Originally known as the Jewelers Building, it was created for the city’s diamond merchants and had an unusual security procedure – to reduce the chances that its tenants would be mugged walking between their cars and their offices, the building featured a central auto elevator. People would drive into this elevator and it would take them to the floor where their office was. Jewelers loaded down with precious stones and metals wouldn’t have to be exposed to a potentially hostile exterior environment. Though innovative, it was an arrangement that didn’t last very long. By the Second World War the auto elevators were abandoned and decked over to make more office space. Naturally, these kind of freight elevators required more mechanical space than regular passenger elevators, and the entire 24th floor was given over to that task, and as a maintenance shop for crafting replacement pieces for the building’s ornate terracotta exterior and interior needs. This wasn’t reclaimed for office space until the very late 20th century. 35 East Wacker is a skyscraper out of time. Though born in the midst of the Art Deco movement, its form and decorative flourishes are clearly influenced by Roman, Greek, and Gothic architecture. Through its dome, its spires, its copulas, arched windows, and more it manages to combine differing styles to create an intricate visual delight.

• Chicago Landmark
Visited: 03/27/2017