Palmer House celebrates 150th anniversary

Chicago News

CHICAGO In a city known for its soaring skyscrapers built of steel and glass, the Palmer House Hilton harkens back to a bygone era in a Chicago institution that has stood the test of time.

“You definitely get that old school cup of champagne vibe, which is really fun,” Damon Wheeler of San Francisco said.

Just a few months since reopening due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the hotel on Monroe Street between State Street and Wabash Avenue is celebrating its 150th anniversary.

“There’s something cozy about it that you don’t get with the more brutalist architecture in the townm which is what drew us to the place,” Wheeler said.

The original Palmer House opened in 1870 as a wedding gift built by Potter Palmer.

“I thought that was beautiful, I told my wife, ‘I don’t know if I can give you a hotel but I can give you whatever else I can give you,'” Anthony Brown of Oak Park said.

The original hotel burned down a year later during the Great Chicago Fire in 1871.

The second hotel, a 7-story Palmer House, was already under construction in 1871 and was finished even as cleanup from the fire continued. At the time, it was billed as the world’s only “fireproof hotel.”

In the 1920s, the current building was constructed, hosting presidents, future presidents and celebrities alike, hosting the likes of Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra.

The hotel is also credited with some culinary creations, such as Palmer House cherry ice cream and the brownie.

The hotel is offering their famous brownies for $1.50, coming for free with a cocktail during certain happy hours.

The anniversary celebrations have brought tourists and Chicagoans alike for self-guided tours, highlighting the historic Grand Lobby.

“It harkens back to the old days and there was beauty in the way buildings were built,” Jackie Canigiani of Chicago said.

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