Chicago isn’t just known for its famous sports teams, deep dish pizza, and windy weather. Historically speaking, some of the most famous landmark hotels are found in Chicago. Many notable people from the past have also graced these elegant establishments.
1. The Renaissance Blackstone Chicago Hotel
The Blackstone, though now restored to contemporary standards of luxury, has an epic past. Its Classical Revival/Beaux-Arts architecture makes it stand out in a distinctive fashion as it overlooks Grant Park.
It opened on April 16, 1910, attracting celebrities, politicians, and socialites right from the start. It was quickly dubbed “The Hotel of Presidents,” and rightfully so, having hosted more than a dozen of them, including Teddy Roosevelt and Jimmy Carter.
Celebrities and mob bosses alike flocked to the Blackstone, including “Lucky” Luciano and Al Capone. The Astors, the Vanderbilts, and the Rockefellers have all stayed in this amazing hotel.
The beautiful brick and terracotta building underwent an extensive renovation in 2006 and opened again in 2008.
“The Untouchables,” “The Color of Money,” and “My Best Friend’s Wedding” are just a few of the movies filmed at the Renaissance Blackstone Chicago Hotel.
2. The Drake
Today you can find upscale hotels like theWit just by searching around online, but in the early 1900s, everyone knew the swankiest places to stay. The Drake Hotel has been considered the most luxurious hotel in Chicago since it opened in 1920. With an eye toward magnificence, it quickly became high society’s premier choice for opulence and sophistication.
Icons such as George Gershwin, Charles Lindbergh, Walt Disney, and Bing Crosby have all sipped cocktails in The Gold Coast Room. Marilyn Monroe and her new husband, Joe DiMaggio, even carved their initials in the Cape Cod Room’s world-famous wooden counter.
The Drake evolved over the years and was eventually purchased in 1980 by Hilton International and restored so that guests now enjoy the grandeur from the past with the amenities befitting modern sensibilities.
3. The Palmer House Hilton
The Palmer House has a charming and romantic past. Potter Palmer, a business magnate endeavoring to develop Chicago’s downtown State Street, fell in love with a young socialite, Bertha Honore, and, long story short, The Palmer House became Potter’s wedding gift to his young bride.
Though destined for greatness, just 13 days after it opened, The Palmer House was destroyed in the Great Chicago Fire.
Potter quickly procured $1.7 million to rebuild, and by November 1873 the new Palmer House was welcoming guests. Bertha added glamorous touches like Impressionist paintings, breathtaking ceiling frescos, draped chandeliers, and Louis Comfort Tiffanymasterpieces.
By the turn of the century, The Palmer House became the social center of Chicago, hosting presidents and famous writers like Oscar Wilde and Charles Dickens. Soon the likes of Judy Garland, Louis Armstrong, and Frank Sinatra were staying there.
The Palmer House has since undergone $170 million in renovations to add modern amenities and comforts.
Though these three sumptuous buildings have history and sophistication, Chicago is also home to many other interesting historical landmarks. If you’re really looking to connect to these historical touchstones, you need to experience these beautiful buildings firsthand.
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