35 East Wacker

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35 East Wacker
Chicago September 2016-41.jpg
35 East Wacker is located in Central Chicago
35 East Wacker
Location within Central Chicago
35 East Wacker is located in Illinois
35 East Wacker
35 East Wacker (Illinois)
35 East Wacker is located in the United States
35 East Wacker
35 East Wacker (the United States)
Former namesPure Oil Building
North American Life Building
Jewelers Building
General information
TypeCommercial offices
Location35 E. Wacker Drive
Chicago, Illinois
Coordinates41°53′11″N 87°37′36″W / 41.8865°N 87.6268°W / 41.8865; -87.6268Coordinates: 41°53′11″N 87°37′36″W / 41.8865°N 87.6268°W / 41.8865; -87.6268
Construction started1925
Roof523 ft (159 m)
Technical details
Floor count40
Design and construction
Architect(s)Joachim G. Giaver
Frederick P. Dinkelberg
Main contractorStarrett-Dilks Company
North American Life Insurance Building
Architectural styleNeoclassical
Part ofMichigan–Wacker Historic District (ID78001124)
Designated CP1978

35 East Wacker, also known as the Jewelers' Building,[5] is a 40-story 523 ft (159 m) historic building in the Loop community area of Chicago, Illinois, United States, located at the intersection of Wabash Avenue and East Wacker Drive, facing the Chicago River. It was built from 1925 to 1927, and was co-designed by Joachim Giæver and Frederick P. Dinkelberg.[6] At the time of its completion in 1927, it was the tallest building in the world outside New York City.[7][8] Formerly the Pure Oil Building and North American Life Insurance Building,[9] 35 East Wacker was listed in 1978 as a contributing property to the Michigan–Wacker Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places, and was designated a Chicago Landmark on February 9, 1994.[4][7][10]

For its first 14 years, the building had a car lift that served the first 23 floors and facilitated safe transfers for jewelry merchants.[5] Currently, the French-American Chamber of Commerce in Chicago is a tenant,[11] and the showroom of architect Helmut Jahn was atop the building inside the dome, which was also once a restaurant called the Stratosphere Club, often erroneously said to be run by Al Capone.[5] (In reality, the Stratosphere Club opened in 1937, long after Capone was imprisoned and too late for the building to have been an illegal speakeasy.)[12] The building is currently being renovated, by Goettsch Partners, and the façade is being maintained, but the interiors converted into a more modern configuration. Both the Chicago chapter of the American Institute of Architects and the City of Chicago have recognized the renovation project with awards.[5][13]


In popular culture[edit]

  • The building was featured in the TV series Bob.
  • The building is featured in scenes of the 2005 film Batman Begins.
  • The 2011 film Transformers: Dark of the Moon features a climax set atop the building, which is heavily damaged, along with most of Chicago, in the giant robot battle that ensues.[15]
  • In 2012, episode 2 of the first season of United States of America on the American History Channel featured the building's historic elevator, made by the Otis Elevator Company.[16]
  • The building is shown in the TV series The Good Wife as the location of the law firm Lockhart/Gardner.
  • Emergency Call Ambulance (Sega 1999), Arcade racing videogame. The player drives by this building in the third case. In the game however, a burning gas station that has no relation to reality, is located at the bottom of this building.
  • The building is a prominent landmark within the fictional city of Lost Heaven in the video game Mafia, and appears also in the remake Mafia: Definitive Edition.




  1. ^ "Emporis building ID 117142". Emporis. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016.
  2. ^ "35 East Wacker". SkyscraperPage.
  3. ^ 35 East Wacker at Structurae
  4. ^ a b "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. January 23, 2007. Retrieved November 21, 2010.
  5. ^ a b c d "The Jewelers' Building" on the 35 East Wacker Drive website. Accessed: January 30, 2011
  6. ^ Commission on Chicago Landmarks Chicago Landmarks[permanent dead link] (2008) p.16
  7. ^ a b "35 East Wacker Building". City of Chicago Department of Planning and Development, Landmarks Division. 2003. Archived from the original on June 30, 2009. Retrieved November 21, 2010.
  8. ^ As with many claims of record height, definitions are important, and the claim for 35 East Wacker ignores the Chicago Temple Building's steeple.
  9. ^ Saliga, Pauline A.; John Zukowsky; Jane H Clarke (1990). The Sky's The Limit: A Century of Chicago Skyscrapers. New York: Rizzoli International Publications. ISBN 0-8478-1179-4.
  10. ^ Robert Wagner (February 3, 1978). "Michigan–Wacker Historic District" (PDF). National Register of Historic Places Inventory — Nomination Form. National Park Service.
  11. ^ "Chicago". SkyTeam. Archived from the original on January 29, 2009. Retrieved November 21, 2010.. Retrieved on January 31, 2009.
  12. ^ "Al Capone and the Jewelers' Building – Mysterious Chicago Tours".
  13. ^ Realty and building, Volume 197, Issues 14-26, page 30
  14. ^ "Headquarters | the Sigma Chi Historical Initiative". Archived from the original on January 17, 2019. Retrieved January 16, 2019.
  15. ^ Murphy, Mekado (June 22, 2011). "Welcome to Chicago, Just Don't Kill Us". The New York Times. Retrieved July 1, 2011.
  16. ^ "Moving On". The History Channel. May 15, 2012. Retrieved May 15, 2012.

External links[edit]