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William Wrigley, Jr. could have 'Trumped' his name on his Chicago building, but he didn't

Written by
Adam Selzer
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You can say what you will about the presumptive GOP nominee, but his Adrian Smith-designed tower is a masterpiece of architecture, managing to fit in perfectly between Van der Rohe's IBM tower and the Wrigley Building, despite being exponentially larger than either. To fit in so well between black and white buildings is quite a feat. Of course, now that the owner's name is there in giant letters, the building has become a popular site at which to take selfies with one's middle finger exposed. In the shadow of the building sits Taft's statue of George Washington, with a base quoting our first president as saying that our government will "give to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance." 

Buried in the archives of the Tribune is an interesting bit about the next-door neighbor, the Wrigley Building, with its lovely clock tower and gleaming white terra cotta facade. When it was built in 1920, it had the whole of Michigan Avenue above the river to itself—it was an area populated by bohemian dives and gas stations. Its construction was the beginning of the Magnificent Mile. 

On April 4, 1920, the Tribune published an article praising Mr. Wrigley for not putting his name on the building in giant letters. Even though it would be "the most commanding site" in the midwest for an advertisement, like the ones for which Mr. Wrigley was paying a fortune in New York, it would only feature a small brass plaque that said "Wrigley Building." Nothing more.

"Mr. Wrigley's modesty and restraint," wrote columnist Al Chase, "in keeping snaky electric advertisements from luring the eye of the boulevarder in Chicago to his magnificent building is something to commend."

Nearly a century later, no one's calling the Wrigley Building "The Thin-Skinned Racist Bully Tower."

More of the article is excerpted on mysteriouschicago.com


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