Lake Point Tower and a Vision Fulfilled

Chicago and Navy Pier, 1965  (Courtesy Zeus of Hollywood)

Chicago and Navy Pier, 1965 (Courtesy Zeus of Hollywood)

In the above photograph taken from a helicopter in 1965, you can easily see several Chicago landmarks.  There’s Marina City (being built), the Wrigley Building, Tribune Tower.  And farther in the background is the water treatment plant and, of course, Navy Pier.  Note that Navy Pier is a working pier.  See the cranes and ships?  How about those white buildings just this side of Navy Pier?  Those are warehouses and a couple of factories.  Pretty different from now.

One structure is noticeably missing–Lake Point Tower.

All great buildings need dreamers. Lake Point Tower is no exception.  Try to imagine yourself as a young man standing in the vacant lot where Lake Point Tower would soon be built and looking around.  Behind you is a frankly run-down, soon to be abandoned pier (most shipping in the Chicago area was being moved farther south) and in front are warehouses and small factories.  Not very encouraging, right?  Most of us would have walked on to find something more exiting to look at.

But not Bill Hartnett. No, what he saw instead was not only a building rising from where he stood, but a magnificent building that would be noticed and eventually draw the city to it.  That kind of vision takes a lot of courage, a lot of commitment and a little foolhardiness for good measure.  Mr. Hartnett had never been involved in a project of such magnitude, but he wanted to give it a shot.  So he brought on two equally fresh young architects, George Schipporeit and John Heinrich, to design something bold and beautiful to match his dream.

The result was Lake Point Tower.

Lake Point Tower under construction

Lake Point Tower under construction

For a good while after it was completed in 1969, Lake Point Tower stood by itself. Even as late as the 1980s, the area immediately west of LPT remained largely undeveloped, as seen in the following photograph.

Lake Point Tower Then © 1987 by Lawrence Okrent

Lake Point Tower Then © 1987 by Lawrence Okrent

Twenty years later, however, a great deal has changed in the Streeterville area.

Lake Point Tower Recently © 2006 by Lawrence Okrent

Lake Point Tower Recently © 2006 by Lawrence Okrent

And even more development has taken place since this 2006 photograph.

Bill Hartnett’s original vision has been fulfilled. Chicago truly has grown to meet LPT.

We’re only six weeks away from our gala 40th anniversary celebration. Our next few posts will focus on our wonderful building and how it came to be.  We hope you enjoy our efforts.

Let us hear from you.

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