The Jewelers Building

Gotham City Court House 35 E Wacker Dr #600

Odyssey Chicago River Experience/The Jewelers Building
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> The Jeweler's building had elevators that jewelers drove into and were lifted safely into their offices.

> The building was completed in 1927 and during Prohibition, the dome at the top was rumored to have housed Al Capone's speakeasy, the Stratosphere Club.

A Prohibition-era Work of Art

Technically the building is called by its address, 35 East Wacker Drive, but it's commonly referred to by the original name, The Jeweler's Building. Here's an example of how tenants influenced design in this early 20th Century architectural work. The clock on the Jewelers' Building Northeast corner was long said to be linked to the Elgin Watch Company, a building tenant. Local know-how always claimed that the Elgin Clock offered the most accurate time of the city.

At 40 stories high, the building was at one point the tallest building west of New York City. Its "wedding cake" design was made in the classical revival style, which was popular during the Colombian Exposition of 1893. It's one of the largest structures of this style. The building was designated a Chicago landmark in 1994 and has since made a few big screen appearances. Its repertoire includes Batman Begins and Transformers: Dark of the Moon.

One Per Elevator Please

Joachim G. Giaver and Frederick P. Dinkelberg created harmony between security, craftsmanship, and design with their plans for the Jeweler's Building. They needed to create a building where armored cars, carrying highly valuable gems, could drive into an elevator and be safely transported to any floor. A requirement at the time seeing as the building was erected during Chicago's notorious mob era. Frank Nitti, Al Capone, and Jack 'Machine Gun' McGurn were quite active at the time, keeping locals on edge.

“A crook is a crook, and there’s something healthy about his frankness in the matter." Al Capone

The Stratosphere Club

How a security-conscious building ended up with wild speakeasy inside a dome on its rooftop is anyone's guess. There have been stranger bedfellows though. The dome of the building housed the Stratosphere Club, which was rumored to be a hub of kingpin Al Capone. However, the club opened during his incarceration in 1937 after Probihition had been repealed. The elevator to the dome no longer exists, but the original space is still there.

Cover image source: Kimberly Vardeman, CC BY 2.0, no changes made.

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