Ride the trolley to the Chicago River, then step off to tour the lobbies of six opulent Art Deco skyscrapers…
Luxurious, exuberant and dramatic, the Carbide and Carbon Building is a metaphor for the sumptuous décor of 1920s America.
The Carbide and Carbon Company, which developed the first dry cell battery, needed a regional headquarters to house its rapidly expanding business. Company executives wanted the building to make a statement, to communicate the firm's success and to attract clients. They commissioned the Burnham Brothers (sons of the deceased Daniel Burnham), who completed the structure in 1929.
All Deco’d Out
A dazzling building on Chicago’s skyline, the Carbide and Carbon Building epitomizes the lavish excitement of Art Deco. The facade is composed of luxurious polished black granite, green and gold terra cotta and gold leaf with bronze trim. The building’s interior is known for its extravagant lobby, originally used to display the company’s products. Frosted glass fixtures and Belgian marble greet visitors at its Michigan Avenue entrance.
The building’s cap is ornamented with genuine 24 karat gold, though it is only one five-thousandths of an inch thick. Bronze trim extends from the tip of the spire to the ground level.
A Hard Rocking Second Life
All good things must come to an end, as they say. With the market crash of 1929, a planned sister building to the Carbide and Carbon Building was cancelled, making it the sole fully-colored skyscraper in the world at the time. The building was landmarked in 1994 and in 2004 it underwent a $106 million restoration. After being sold to a realty company, the building became the new home for Chicago’s Hard Rock Hotel. It still stands out as one of the most unique structures on the city’s skyline.