Why Lake Point Tower Is the Only Building East of Lake Shore Drive

Oh, the stories. You’ve all heard them.  Graft and corruption and all the rest about how Lake Point Tower came to be the only building east of Lake Shore Drive.

But none of that has an ounce of truth in it, just like Oprah never really lived in the building.

Here’s the real truth.

Look at the painting below (oil, 1968, Steven Retttigi).  Note in the lower lefthand corner the dramatic–and dangerous set of curves Lake Shore Drive follows?  Note also a building to the left of the first of the curves.  That’s Outer Drive East, and it was built in 1963. And it’s east of Lake Shore Drive. The painting was in fact done from the roof of Lake Point Tower as it was being built in 1968 and 1969–a full five years after Outer Drive East went up.

Chicago’s Lakefront Skyline, 1968  by Steven Rettigi.

Chicago’s Lakefront Skyline, 1968 by Steven Rettigi.

A decade after this painting was finished, in 1975, Harbor Point was completed. It, too, was east of Lake Shore Drive. So that made a total of three buildings–Lake Point Tower, Outer Drive East and Harbor Point–that were all east of LSD.

So here’s what really happened.

In 1987, Lake Shore Drive was relocated. Yep, the curves were softened and the road made safer.  As a result, Outer Drive East and Harbor Point ended up on the west of Lake Shore Drive and Lake Point Tower became– and still is — the only building in the city east of Lake Shore Drive.

And there you have it. No smoke-filled rooms.  No deals.  Just the luck of the re-draw, you might say.

(A postscript on the painting:  Steven Rettigi painted this oil-on-canvas in three sections, with overall dimensions of 4’-0” x 16’-8”.  He spent over 100 hours working at the site.  After it was completed, Hartnett-Shaw Associates, the developer of Lake Point Tower, displayed the painting in its offices in LPT from 1969 and 1977.  It is now the property of the Hartnett family.)

Like the painting?

Let us hear why or why not.

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