The Biography of Chicago’s Marina City

Moving Day
October 14, 1962

East tower apartment. Chicago Sun Times (1962).

(Above) T. Byrne O’Donnell, sales manager for a Chicago publisher of industry directories, in his east-facing east tower apartment at Marina City in 1962. The chairs in this black-and-white photo were green, blue, and brown plaid, according to a caption written by the Chicago Sun Times. The carpeting was “two-tone beige” and the draperies had a “leaf pattern of greens and browns on beige background.”

The first tenants were expected to move in on Sunday morning, October 14, 1962. Marina City was most definitely still under construction. There was a large crane on top of the east tower. But the 21st, 22nd, and 23rd floors were finished.

Daniel Aguilar, age 28, and his wife, Jo Ann Aguilar, age 26, had rented apartment 2135 in the east tower. Daniel was a credit manager and also managed a Flamenco dance team. He thought they would be the first tenants to move in, arriving before noon.

Unfortunately, their next-door neighbor got there first. Louise Hance, a secretary for the partnership bank Brown Brothers Harriman & Company, had been given the first key by Charles R. Swibel, president of the property management company.

(Left) Marina City from the southeast in 1962. Click on images to view larger versions.

When the Aguilars finally showed, Louise was watching the crane lift furniture to her balcony, from which it was then moved into her apartment. They greeted each other over their balcony railings and had coffee later.

(Above) What Marina City would have looked like in October 1962. This view from the northwest corner of the lot shows an unfinished cross-section of the commercial platform. The east tower is on the left. Today, House of Blues would block this view. Kitchen of Earl Meech, who lived in the west tower at Marina City from 1963 to 1972.

Over at the west tower, tenants started moving in on January 12, 1963. At that time, 729 total apartments were rented although only 100 were actually occupied. Swibel expected all 896 units to be rented by April 1, 1963. He said on January 11 that there were more applications and $50 deposits than available apartments.

February 19, 1963 letter from Morris Swibel to Earl Meech and Randel Aaron. (Left) Letter dated February 19, 1963, from Morris H. Swibel, advising tenants Earl Meech and Randel Aaron that their apartment at Marina City will be available on March 20, 1963. Morris was the brother of Charles Swibel and vice president of Marina Management Corporation, which was located at 316 West Randolph Street before relocating to Marina City.

Last updated 30-Jun-14

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