The Biography of Chicagos Marina City
|127 stories||134,660 words||592 images||Click on a decade...|
|1960s||Title (click to read story)||Key Date||Last Updated|
The story of Chicagos Marina City does not end in the 1960s. After it was built, people moved in and kept the story going through good times and bad. Marina City is a riches-to-rags-to-riches story. It may be an important part of Chicagos past but it is still relevant today. It is not just a Chicago icon. It is Chicago.
|A blank slate
To understand how Marina City and all of Chicagos unique architecture took shape, we have to be familiar with the most significant event in Chicago architecture the time the city was almost destroyed.
|October 8, 1871||1-Jun-14|
|Slowing the suburban exodus
The post-war exodus to the suburbs was a trend no little plan could fix.
|Bertrand Goldbergs meandering path to Marina City
You really have to wonder if Marina City would have existed at all had its architect not very nearly been blown up in 1942.
They were wrong about the price, number of buildings, number of floors, number of apartments, and number of boats. And there were going to be other complexes just like it in seven other cities. But Marina City is announced to the world. The name sticks, despite the architect wanting to call it something else.
|September 14, 1959||5-Jun-14|
|A brief history of 300 North State Street
Every owner of Chicagos Block 1, from the king of Cobweb Castle to the railroad that sold it to Marina City.
|19th & Early 20th Century||10-Apr-16|
|The shape of things to come
The inspiration for cylindrical towers most likely came from a railroad car.
|November 3, 1959||11-Jun-14|
|$2.5 million buys the lot and railroad tracks
The 135,000 square foot lot in downtown Chicago came with its own railroad tracks.
|December 17, 1959||10-Jun-14|
|A mixed-use laboratory
It is February 29, 1960, and Marina City is coming into focus.
|February 29, 1960||18-Jun-14|
|Central City Plan
A two-page manuscript typed on April 15, 1960, makes the case for caution but then dares people to invest in Chicagos center. Making downtown more habitable would not only have economic benefits but it would make people happy.
|April 15, 1960||1-May-16|
|Paying for Marina City
Two-thirds of Marina Citys income would go to pay back investors. The rest would have to cover operating expenses. This was not going to end well.
|June 22, 1960||15-Jun-14|
It must have been fun. Hundreds of people in a circus tent on State Street. A phone call from president-elect Kennedy. Mayor Daley riding on construction equipment. They could have plumb forgot to break ground on a $36 million project to revolutionize urban housing.
|November 22, 1960||16-Jun-14|
|Laying the foundation
As complex as Marina City was above ground, it was going to be challenging underneath, too. Fortunately, the foundation consultant was the godfather of soil mechanics.
|Marina City starts to rise
March 1961. With an appetite for concrete and glass, Marina City starts to rise. Crews work in a continuous 48-hour cycle. When they get good at that pace, the construction schedule accelerates. Good thing they had mullions.
|$5 million for two garages
The 18-story spiral parking ramps get its first manager, the first car drives up the east tower ramp, and how to ride a manlift.
The first fatalities during the construction of Marina City.
|September 15, 1961||23-Jun-14|
|The 16-story fence
Bertrand Goldberg described the 16-story office building on the north edge of the site as a fence, separating Marina City from the slum property to the north.
|October 3, 1961||24-Jun-14|
|Photo: Columbus Day Parade 1961
Marina City celebrates its first Columbus Day.
On Marina Citys one year anniversary, a topping out ceremony is held to note the last bucket of concrete making the core of the east tower the tallest concrete structure in the world.
|November 22, 1961||25-Jun-14|
|Tower on top of tower
On December 1, 1961, a 12-foot-tall double-barred cross weighing 600 pounds is hoisted to the 53rd floor of Marina Citys east tower to promote Christmas Seals. It becomes the first in a long history of things that have been built on top of the towers.
|December 1, 1961||17-Dec-14|
|Clarence Ekstrom, McHugh Project Manager
The architectural plans were not quite finished. The forms for the concrete had unusual shapes. There were no barriers to catch anything or anyone who fell. In the morning, he climbed the tower crane to check the wind. By evening, he got a diverse mix ofunion contractors to agree on a schedule. It was all in a days work for Clarence Ekstrom, project manager for McHugh Construction Company on the job building the nations tallest apartment building.
|Mock-ups and models
Its hard to imagine today an 896-unit apartment complex that isnt even open yet receiving 3,500 rental applications. Even tougher to imagine that despite such demand, the rental agent spending $400,000 to show prospective tenants what two of the units will look like.
|January 9, 1962||26-Jun-14|
|First fires, and Marina City sinks its first bridge
Residents of Marina City in 1962-63 have to put up with construction throughout the complex and the occasional small fire.
|February 20, 1962||28-Sep-14|
|The world anxiously waits
In early 1962, news outlets around the world eagerly watched Marina City take shape Life magazine, Time, even Weekly Reader.
|February 23, 1962||29-Jun-14|
|Seven injured in second accident
In 1962 it was not safe, not legal, but not uncommon for construction workers to ride hoists intended for lifting materials. At Marina City on June 19, this was costly as seven workers fell ten stories when a gear shaft holding a hoist broke.
|June 19, 1962||28-Jun-14|
|Banking on Marina City
Started with $2 million, Marina City Bank had $12 million in deposits within two years. And it had a Teleview Teller, the 1960s version of an ATM.
|August 3, 1962||29-Jun-14|
|Another worker falls||September 24, 1962||30-Jun-14|
|National Design Center signs lease
Before Merchandise Mart became paradise for professional decorators and the do-it-yourself crowd, Marina City was where they went. The National Design Center, where BIN 36 is currently located, offered three floors of home furnishings, fabrics, appliances, decorative items, and building products.
|September 27, 1962||29-Jun-14|
Daniel and Jo Ann Aguilar thought they were going to be the first residents to move into Marina City on October 14, 1962. They must have been very surprised to arrive and be greeted by their neighbor, Louise Hance, who got there first.
|October 14, 1962||30-Jun-14|
|Star map buried
Two years to the day after the groundbreaking ceremony, on Thanksgiving Day, November 22, 1962, dignitaries gathered again at Marina City. This time, to bury into the foundation a celestial map showing the position of the stars and planets when ground was broken two years earlier.
|November 22, 1962||1-Jul-14|
3,500 people wanted a slice of Marina City but only 896 pie-shaped apartments were available. The lucky ones moved in to new apartments between October 14, 1962, and December 23, 1964. They walked across muddy wooden planks, through common areas lit by bare bulbs and heated using butane tanks, to get to their apartments. No laundry room, storage areas, or even mailboxes. The hallways were cold and damp from the concrete that had not yet cured. And then there was the time one of the butane tanks exploded.
|January 31, 1963||7-Jul-14|
|Desperate burglars steal doorknobs
Burglary reached new heights.
|February 20, 1963||28-Sep-14|
|Hilton signs on to run the first restaurant
Whether you ate at Galley & Grog, which had a bar made of wine barrels, the more formal Parlours with its crystal chandeliers, Viennese Coffee Shop with its red and white striped ice cream parlor chairs, or Pier Too where the servers wore Mandarin dresses, you wanted to be at Ships Lounge, a bar built like a ship, at 5:30 p.m. when the bell rang.
|May 8, 1963||6-Jul-14|
|Marina Citys theatrical flourish
A fan of the arts, Bertrand Goldberg had high hopes for his theater building on the Dearborn side of Marina City. It would be designed for live, modern theater for the next generation, and have a state-of-the-art sound system. He was hoping the Goodman Theatre could be lured to Marina City.
|Marina City backdrop as CTA shows off new bus
CTA shows off its new bus in front of Marina City.
|The incredible shrinking marina
All that separated the marina at Marina City from the Chicago River was a 280-foot-long concrete and steel seawall. For a few days in 1963, beginning on November 27, the riverfront was punctuated with blasts from 80 pounds of dynamite used to blow the seawall out of the water.
|November 6, 1963||7-Jul-14|
|Closer Look: The Teleview Teller
P.J. Hoff braves the cold to try the Teleview Teller at Marina City. And 350 North State Street through the years.
|February 25, 1964||7-Jul-14|
|Battle for control of Marina City
William McFetridge was ok with not being president of the Building Service Employees International Union. He could get by without a consulting job that paid todays equivalent of $115,000. He just didnt want to give up control of Marina City. The deal he offered the union was this all or nothing.
|May 5, 1964||9-Nov-14|
|From Marina City
Marina Citys first newsletter issues covered the movie that had recently been filmed there, a marina that could launch a boat in five minutes, how many people lived at Marina City and how much money they made.
|Meet Mike Kobluk: Former Marina City resident and voice of a generation
Meet Mike Kobluk. When he lived at Marina City from 1963 to 1967, he captured some quality images of not just Marina City in the skating rink days but a surrounding neighborhood long before its skyscrapers. As a photographer, he was quite competent and perhaps he should have pursued that further. But no, he was probably too busy singing as a founding member of Chad Mitchell Trio.
|The executive board decides
The union that built Marina City gets out of the real estate business, selling to Charles Swibel for todays equivalent of $20 million. Peanuts compared to what his company still owes on the mortgage, $136 million in 2014 dollars.
|July 10, 1964||9-Nov-14|
|Marina City Promenade
A benefit during which the public could tour Marina City.
|September 25, 1964||10-Nov-14|
|Downtown at Marina City, its 30 degrees at WCFL
Bob Dearborn, Dick Biondi, Dick Orkin, Larry Lujack, Wolfman Jack. These radio legends all worked at Marina City at one time. From 1964 to 1987, through four music formats, WCFL fought Chicago radio ratings wars from the top floor of what is now Hotel Chicago.
|Life In The Round
The November 1964 issue of Ebony included articles on jazz trumpeter Louis Armstrong, gospel singer Mahalia Jackson, and Marina City, where its ultra-modern housing was a radical departure from conventional apartment living. Life In The Round followed six African-Americans living at Marina City, including real estate broker Albert Gaskin and grade school teacher Geraldine Johnson.
|Dinner this Evening at Marina City Restaurants
Marina City restaurant wedding dinner menu presented to Larry and Carolyn Lorren, married on November 28, 1964.
|November 28, 1964||7-Dec-14|
|Bertrand Goldberg on the architect, in his own voice
What did Bertrand Goldberg sound like?
|December 2, 1964||7-Dec-14|
|Marina City strikes deal for bowling alley
William Spencer signs $1 million lease for 38 lanes.
|December 18, 1964||7-Dec-14|
|Marina City stars in its first movie
Goldstein was Philip (Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Right Stuff, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Henry & June) Kaufmans first film and it included scenes at Marina City.
|May 7, 1965||5-Dec-16|
The film starred Warren Beatty as a nightclub comic fleeing the Detroit Mob for Chicago. (Yes, you read that correctly.) It is considered a cult classic today.
|September 27, 1965||5-Dec-16|
|This Is Marina City
In 1965, Arthur P. Mandler brought his wind-up Bolex H-16 film camera and wife to Marina City and produced for Portland Cement Association the most detailed historical account of the construction of Marina City. When the 19-minute film was professionallyrestored in 2010, its quality and value were even more in focus.
|Station of Tomorrow
WFLD, one of Chicagos five UHF channels and located at Marina City.
|January 4, 1966||10-Nov-14|
|Things to see and do at Marina City
1964 Visitors Guide
|Explosion of The Unbearables
A 35-foot cabin cruiser explodes and burns in Marina Citys marina.
|October 9, 1965||7-Dec-14|
12-foot sculpture on the plaza.
|November 1, 1965||7-Dec-14|
|Richard Hauff, Marina City resident and a friend of ours
Marina Citys first mobster.
|November 15, 1965||8-Dec-14|
|Murray The Camel
The sad story of Murray The Camel Humphreys, mobster and high-rolling apartment dweller. His run from justice ended on the 51st floor of Marina Citys east tower, on the wrong end of a vacuum cleaner.
|November 23, 1965||8-Dec-14|
|Ten-year-old boat thief foiled before reaching Cleveland
William Blasio steals a boat after school but does not get far.
|December 1, 1965||8-Dec-14|
|You Live Better Electrically
1965 Life magazine ad
|December 24, 1965||8-Dec-14|
|Marina City: The Brochure
1966 brochure from Marina Management Corporation
|Skating around Marina City
In the 1960s, shopping malls were becoming not just retail centers, but places of recreation. Ice skating rinks were the latest thing and so, naturally, Marina City had to have one.
|October 12, 1966||4-Jan-15|
|Flying down with the garbage
Think your job is tough? We found a guy who used to climb into garbage at Marina City to free stuck refuse. It was dirty, dangerous work and made his job later on NBCs The Today Show seem almost easy.
|July 5, 1967||17-Dec-14|
|On the cover of National Geographic
In 1967, Marina City was among the most interesting things in Illinois. The June issue of National Geographic that year caught it all Marina Citys lofty pie-slice apartments, its views all the way to Indiana, and its sky dancers.
|Calculated move by Univac
Before BIN 36 served wine flights there, Univac had offices on the west side of what is now Hotel Chicago.
|Snapshots of 1967
What a year 1967 was. A map was published that showed what they meant when they called it Marina City. The police bust a Bingo party. The parking garage might have mob connections. An art exhibit features eclectic work of Illinois artists. WFLD sets up shop and a Christmas tree sings. John Denver sure picked an interesting year to move to Marina City.
|Rental office robbed
In 1968, two polite, well dressed men with a flowered shopping bag and a shotgun robbed the rental office.
|September 21, 1968||8-Feb-15|
|Marina Citys first murder
Marina City was a crime scene on January 13, 1969, when a man despondent over health issues shot his mother and then himself.
|January 13, 1969||8-Feb-15|
|The lobby of tomorrow
Marina Citys original lobbies offered a feature common now but new then the ability for a visitor to call up to a resident.
|Bob Gibsons demons
Folk singer/songwriter Bob Gibson lived at Marina City at the peak of his career. He was arrested for drug possession there, too.
|August 14, 1969||15-Feb-15|
|Back safe from Vietnam
Seven friends gather at Marina City in 1969 to celebrate a safe return.
|August 16, 1969||15-Feb-15|
Braless Friday brings 1,500 men and 14 women to Marina City.
|September 5, 1969||15-Feb-15|
|1970s||Title (click to read story)||Key Date||Last Updated|
Marina Cinemas showed movies three at a time at Marina City from 1970 to 1977.
|September 25, 1970||16-Feb-14|
|Tax scandal of 1970
In October 1970, there was concern that some buildings in Cook County were being given unfair property tax breaks, and one of those buildings was Marina City.
|Marina City Bank robbery
A bank robbery at Marina City in 1972 was an inside job.
|April 28, 1972||22-Feb-15|
|Happy times, happy people
A German polka band helps us see how much the riverfront has changed since 1972.
|Who killed Gloria?
In 1972, Gloria Kirkpatrick, the young, pretty manager of the movie theaters at Marina City, was stabbed to death in the middle of the afternoon in downtown Chicago. Her assailant is unknown. Motive is unknown. What happened to Gloria? What are the theories? Who are the suspects? Will this forever remain a Marina City murder mystery?
|May 5, 1972||22-Feb-15|
|Snapshots of the 1970s
A charity tournament at Marina Citys nine-hole miniature golf course features buxom ladies in saucy costumes. Two speedboats are destroyed in a fire at the marina. And a daredevil walks a high wire between towers, four years before Nik Wallenda wasborn.
|Retired Navy diver drowns. Police are suspicious.
Another Marina City murder mystery. In 1976, a man whose sister lived at Marina City appeared to have drowned in the Chicago River east of State Street. But the man was a retired Navy diver, and the story just kept getting stranger and stranger. On the CBS Evening News, a 35-year-old Bill Kurtis unraveled the curious case.
|March 25, 1976||5-Dec-16|
|Sweaty burglar spills the keys
In late 1976, just before Christmas, a rash of burglaries had residents worried and management stumped.
|The end is coming: Marina City goes condo
For almost 15 years, Marina City was all rental property. The company that managed the residential property also managed the commercial property. That changed when apartments were sold off as condo units starting in 1977. That was the year Marina City split into two entities. And the towers changed color.
|September 15, 1977||22-Mar-15|
|Welcome to Marina City. Dont forget where you parked.
September 21, 1979. A green 1980 Grand Prix Pontiac crashes through a cable barrier on the 17th floor of the west tower parking ramp and dives hood-first into the Chicago River. Cut and print. It is a movie stunt for the 1980 Steve McQueen movie, The Hunter.
|September 21, 1979||23-Jun-16|
|1980s||Title (click to read story)||Key Date||Last Updated|
|Marina City News
The first residents of Marina City had no stores inside the building or laundry room or mailboxes or carpeting in the halls. The original lobby was an expanse of mud covered by planks and a few bare bulbs lighting the way. Their recollectionswere captured in the April 1980 issue of Marina City News. The issue was published two months after an electrical outage so epic it inspired a poem.
|A police officer has been shot
Reconstructed from eyewitness interviews, court documents, and police reports, the grueling, minute-by-minute account of the death of First Deputy Superintendent James J. Riordan, the highest-ranking Chicago police officer killed in action.
|June 6, 1981||20-Apr-15|
|Snapshots of the 1980s
Trouble on the State Street Bridge. Marina City Bank is held up twice. And Alderman Fast Eddie Vrdolyak sells most of the condo units he bought the day before the City Council voted on Marina Citys condo conversion.
|WFLD moves on
The Svengoolie lineage Son of Svengoolie and later, just Svengoolie started out at Marina City. WFLD was located there from 1967 to 1986. Rich Koz, the man behind the makeup, shares his recollections about The Whale, or what today is called House of Blues.
|Nothing In Common
Steve McQueens last movie included a major scene filmed at Marina City. This was also the fate of Jackie Gleason, whose last film included a scene shot in 1985 in the east tower parking ramp with 29-year-old Tom Hanks.
|July 30, 1986||17-May-15|
|William Goodstein, first condo association president
Marina Citys first condo association president said his job was like being a town mayor. William Goodstein served for ten years but was brought down by an indictment over a missing pension fund.
|May 27, 1987||29-Mar-15|
|Dear Mr. Tarkington
Three letters from the court-appointed receiver offer glimpses of Marina Citys deteriorating condition in 1988.
|April 25, 1988||31-Mar-15|
|Bankruptcy case 88-17840
$24.4 million in debt, Marina City Associates, owner of all commercial property at Marina City, filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy on November 18, 1988. The case would not officially close until 12 years, four months, nine days, and 47 attorneys later.
|November 18, 1988||7-Jun-15|
|Bankrupt commercial owners forced to sell
At 11:00 a.m. on November 22, 1988, 28 years to the minute after Marina Citys euphoric groundbreaking, bidders, each with a certified check for $1 million as earnest money, gathered at the Hyatt Regency Chicago hotel a few blocks away, where MarinaCitys bankrupt commercial property was put on the auction block.
|November 22, 1988||7-Jun-15|
|Meet Ilene F. Goldstein, Marina Citys bankruptcy trustee
For 12 years, no one really owned the commercial property at Marina City. It had a court-appointed bankruptcy trustee, an attorney from Highland Park who tried to find money to pay back dozens of creditors. Deals to buy the office building kept falling through, and the casinos were circling like vultures. Marina City was so far behind on its electric bill, Com Ed finally came by to disconnect service. Thank goodness the equipment was so old, they were afraid to switch it off.
|1990s||Title (click to read story)||Key Date||Last Updated|
|A post-modern mess
In June 1990, with the commercial property at Marina City being run by a bankruptcy trustee, a Chicago real estate company proposes turning the office building into a Fairfield Inn hotel. Hiffman Shaffer Anderson also wants to build a new restaurant, newretail buildings, and a landscaped walkway next to the river. They also want to tear down the theater building. Bertrand Goldberg may be 77 years old but he comes out swinging.
|November 21, 1990||23-Jun-15|
|Marina City apartment converted to weapons bunker
When police raided a Marina City apartment and seized 285 guns, the largest single seizure of weapons in Chicago, they may have thought they were up against gang members. But it was just Francis Samp, a Korean War veteran and licensed gun collector, who kept a Civil War-era cannon on his balcony, pointed toward the Chicago River.
|May 3, 1991||7-Jun-15|
|A seedy, crumbling wreck
The best that anyone can say about Marina City is that it is a seedy, crumbling wreck. Two deals to sell the property have fallen through. The federal agency in charge of the commercial property gives up. Proper maintenance is now considered a luxury.
|September 27, 1992||12-Jul-15|
|Residents help down-on-its-luck neighbor
A concrete column supporting a main beam under one of the ramps onto the property is seriously cracked. Supporting steel beams have holes in them. In an editorial about Marina City, the Chicago Tribune uses to word blight.
|October 8, 1992||12-Jul-15|
|A new gateway to Marina City
It is 1993 and the commercial property at Marina City is languishing in bankruptcy. Bertrand Goldberg calls Marina City his 30-year-old wayward child. On the same block, a developer wants to build a 20-story condominium and hotel tower. But when the price to buy Marina Citys commercial property crashes to six measly million dollars, it gets their attention. For Goldberg, it might be his last opportunity to make the property right.
|Luck starts to change
It may have been a rat hole, but it was a $3.35 million rat hole now owned by John L. Marks. His bid was accepted over a rival group that included Bertrand Goldberg. Marks says his goal is to return Marina City to the great complex it once was.
|November 11, 1994||12-Jul-15|
|Were going to electrify the city with this
September 14, 1995. Developer John Marks and entrepreneur Isaac Tigrett announce plans for a House of Blues concert hall, hotel, nightclub, and restaurant. To the groundbreaking ceremony, Tigrett arrives in a vintage railroad car with actors Dan Akroyd, Jim Belushi, and John Goodman. They wear black suits, black hats, and black sunglasses.
|September 14, 1995||20-Jul-15|
|Nancy Goldberg, restaurateur
Equestrian. Pilot. Restaurateur. Saloon keeper. Nancy Goldberg was also the daughter of a noted sculptor and a Florsheim, mother of three, and wife of Marina Citys architect.
|November 12, 1996||22-Jul-15|
|Bertrand Goldberg, architect
His career path did not go neatly from Point A to Point B, nor would he have wanted it to. Over 60 years, he gave the world 44 major works, including Marina City. Bertrand Goldberg left us on October 8, 1997.
|October 8, 1997||22-Jul-15|
|New use for the skating rink
The design may have had some admirers but they were not at Bertrand Goldberg Associates. Undeterred, Smith & Wollensky opens at Marina City, to favorable reviews, in space that used to be the skating rink.
|April 15, 1998||22-Jul-13|
The office building is gutted in preparation for a new 372-room House of Blues hotel, to complement the concert venue that had been in business for about a year. As if things could even get any better, its announced that bowling would return to Marina City.
|February 26, 1998||22-Jul-15|
|Loud neighbors with a liquor license
Over time the relationship cooled between the loud music nightclub and the hundreds of residents who lived above it.
|2000s||Title (click to read story)||Key Date||Last Updated|
|Toast of the Towers
Status at Marina City can be measured by how long a person has lived there. Some have lived there since the beginning. Marina Citys original residents were the first to occupy their respective apartments. In 2003, an elite group of 19 originals were honored at a reception.
|May 18, 2003||25-Oct-15|
|Shoeboxes full of money
The long, strange trip of Dr. Gary S. Kimmel, the Marina City resident and condo board member who was convicted on federal money laundering charges.
|January 18, 2006||4-Apr-16|
|Hotel for sale. Garage included.
House of Blues checks out of its hotel at Marina City. LaSalle Hotel Properties checks in.
|February 22, 2006||4-Apr-16|
|Flying car sequel
For a television spot for Allstate, a car once again is shot off the west tower parking ramp.
|October 15, 2006||4-Apr-16|
|Candle blamed for small fire
After fire damages a unit on the 21st floor of the west tower, the condo association at Marina City upgrades its life-safety system.
|April 21, 2006||11-Apr-16|
|Condo board claims ownership of Marina City name and image
The condominium association at Marina City embarks on arguably its most contentious and most ridiculed quest ever, to control how images of Marina City are used.
|September 7, 2007||1-Dec-16|
|The arduous six-block journey of Dicks Last Resort
Fighting the condo association all the way, Dicks Last Resort moves its mayhem to Marina City.
|October 30, 2008||28-Dec-16|
|2010s||Title (click to read story)||Key Date||Last Updated|