Address: 410 North Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60602.
The gleaming white Wrigley Building is one of America’s most famous office towers. Located on Michigan Avenue on the north bank of the Chicago River, at the southern-most point of Chicago’s Magnificent Mile, the Wrigley Building consists of two towers connected by an open walkway at street level and two enclosed walkways.
History & Construction
The land for the building, chosen by William Wrigley Jr., is unique because of its triangular shape. Mr. Wrigley’s goal was to create an impressive headquarters for his successful chewing gum company and the northwest corner of Michigan Avenue was the perfect location. During January 1920, when excavation for the building began, the Michigan Avenue Bridge was under construction. The Wrigley Building became the pioneer structure in the development of the north Michigan Avenue business district.
The architectural shape of the Wrigley Building is patterned after the Seville Cathedral’s Giralda Tower in Spain. However, the ornamental design of the building is based on an American adaptation of French Renaissance style. Mr. Charles Beersman, chief designer for the building’s architects, Graham, Anderson, Probst and White, used his talent and imagination to combine the two concepts.
On November 11, 1920, the cornerstone for the southern tower was laid. In May of 1924, the north tower was completed and connected to the south section with walkways at street level and between the third floors. Later, in 1931, a 14th floor walkway was put in place.
The building’s large clock-tower is one of its most well-known features. The giant two-story clock in the south tower features four dials, each 19 feet, 7 inches in diameter. Each dial has an hour hand that measures 6 feet, 4 inches and a minute hand that is 9 feet, 2 inches long. These clock hands were originally made of redwood, but were recently refashioned in aircraft-grade aluminum to increase their durability. Because of its multiple dials and prominent positioning, people coming from all directions use Wrigley’s clock to check the time.
The building is clad in approximately 250,000 individual glazed terra cotta tiles, the most extensive use of terra cotta in the world during the time of construction. Each tile is uniquely identified in a computer database that enables consistent tracking and maintenance of each and every tile located on the building. The interior of the building contains extensive brasswork throughout each tower’s lobby, including the entryway, elevator doors and lobby clock.
In addition to housing the international headquarters of the Wm Wrigley Jr. Company, the Wrigley Building is home to many other companies. Tenants include investment management companies, advertising agencies, marketing firms, and foreign consulates. Over 1,300 people come to work each day in the Wrigley Building.
The nighttime floodlighting of the Wrigley Building is one of the nation’s major commercial lighting displays. Illumination of the building is provided by several banks of lights, including 116, 1,000-watt metal halide lamps mounted on the south side of the Chicago River. These, along with another seven lamps at street level, keep the Michigan Avenue and Chicago River sides of the building brightly lit. West of the Wrigley Building an additional 16, 1,000-watt metal halide lights are used. To help create the effect of gradual brightness toward the top, 62 lights were installed on the building itself.
Except for the years marked by World War II, a three-month period in the winter of 1971 when a new system of lights was being installed, and nine months in 1973-1974 when an energy crisis called for stringent conservation of all natural resources, the illuminated Wrigley Building has been a bright feature of Chicago’s evening skyline since the lights were first turned on in 1921. The decision to illuminate the building again beginning on August 17, 1974, was made only after assurances by Commonwealth Edison, the local power company, that this off-peak use of electricity would not drain any essential fuel from the city’s power sources.
For over 75 years, the Wrigley Building has been recognized as one of Chicago’s most attractive buildings. Its sparkling white terra-cotta cladding, well-proportioned architecture and nighttime lighting have established it as of symbol of Chicago in many books, motion pictures and television programs, and have made it an unforgettable nighttime sight for Chicago’s residents and visitors.