In my 30 years of reporting for the Sun-Times, I've had cause to be there exactly twice, the second time last week. It is probably the most prominently-located yet completely-obscure place in Chicago—known to a select few, the masses not only kept out, but kept in ignorance of its existence. It wants no publicity.
Which is a shame, because the place has a wonderful back story, of why it's so improbably there, where it was no longer supposed to be. I'll tell you the story of its endurance after somebody guesses where this is—this might be one of those that gets cracked early, by somebody who, like me, was invited in once or twice. Or maybe not— everyone I mention this to just gives me a blank look. Then again, maybe I just travel in lumpen circles. Maybe you go there all the time. Lucky you. Either way, hard or easy, today's question is: where are these lovely double swans? What IS this place? Since my stock of posters is dwindling, the winner will get ... a copy of my 2012 memoir, You Were Never in Chicago. Post your guesses below. Good luck.
POSTSCRIPT: Location cracked, but not at 12:05 a.m. this time, so I consider today's puzzle a success. Here's a shot I didn't want to print earlier, so as not to give away the game, to show you where today's location, revealed below, is located—that lovely oval dining room is secreted within this all black building, tucked behind the John Hancock's parking garage.
The Chicago Club on Michigan and Van Buren, accross from the cultural centerReplyDelete
I have 10 more guesses but they're probably wrong, too!ReplyDelete
Nope! Good guess though.ReplyDelete
The Casino ClubReplyDelete
Casino Club it is! Congratulations Lori. Send me your address at email@example.com and I'll mail you your book.ReplyDelete
Thanks so much Neil ! Will do. I absolutely adore your writingReplyDelete
So what's the back story?ReplyDelete
Ah yes, sorry about that. In a nutshell, the Casino Club was supposed to be condemned and swept away to make room for the Hancock footprint. BUT, the members proved too powerful, and pulled strings to allow their building to stay. Which is why the Hancock has that tight spiral ramp leading up to its parking garage. Though now that I relate it, I better make sure it's true...Delete
According to a 1993 Tribune article, the Casino is the reason the Hancock is one tall building and not two smaller ones:Delete
"In the mid-1960s, the Hancock people decided to put up a major development on the block fronting Michigan between Delaware Place and Chestnut Street. They needed the entire block because they planned to erect an office tower and a residential one on the space.
But, then as now, a significant section of the block was taken up by the Casino. The Hancock people wrote to longtime club president Mrs. John Winterbotham asking to negotiate the purchase of the club property. They weren't even given the courtesy of a scornful reply. Years later, after Mrs. Winterbotham died, the Hancock's letter was found buried in a drawer of her desk-so far beneath contempt she didn't bother answering it.
Deprived of space for two buildings, the Hancock Center project developers were compelled to stick the residential tower on top of the office one, producing what was-for a time-the world's tallest building."