Thursday, December 8, 2016

December 8, 1961 -- Equitable Announces New Tower

December 8, 1961 – The third largest insurance company in nation, the Equitable Life Assurance Society of the United States, announces plans for the construction of a 35-story office building on a lot located between the Chicago River and Tribune Tower.  James F. Oates, Jr., the president of the company, says that the building will be “one of the most striking and beautiful in America.”  Oates continues, “These are trying days, and many citizens, including business men, are concerned over the future of America and the world.  We are not without concern, but we believe with our full heart that the way to conduct our life in these times is to show our faith in America.  That is why we are going ahead with this building – to show our faith.”  Equitable will occupy about 20 percent of the building’s 600,000 square feet, and the tower will be set back 175 feet east of Michigan Avenue.  Mayor Richard J. Daley says that the deal between the Tribune Company and Equitable “demonstrates anew the faith of men of the economic field in the future of this great city of Chicago.” [Chicago Tribune, December 8, 1961] The architectural firm of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill will design the International Style tower with Alfred Shaw acting as a consultant on the project.  The building stands behind J. Seward Johnson's "God Bless America" in the 2009 photo that I took of what is today 401 North Michigan Avenue.

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