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The Drake Hotel Joins Historic Hotels of America®

CHICAGO – December 30, 2014 – The Drake Hotel in Chicago is pleased to announce it has joined Historic Hotels of America®, the official program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The Drake Hotel is one of more than 260 hotels and resorts throughout the country that is recognized by Historic Hotels of America for preserving and maintaining its historic integrity, architecture, and ambiance.

“We are delighted to induct The Drake Hotel, a beaux-art hotel built in 1920 to Historic Hotels of America,” Said Lawrence Horwitz, executive director of Historic Hotels of America and Historic Hotels Worldwide. “We welcome The Drake Hotel and leadership team into Historic Hotels of America.”

To be selected for membership in Historic Hotels of America, a hotel must be at least 50 years old, be designated by the U. S. Secretary of the Interior as a National Historic Landmark or listed in or eligible for listing in the National register of Historic Places and be recognized as having historic significance.

“For almost a century, our hotel has boasted its prominence within Chicago’s history, becoming known as high-society’s first choice in opulence and luxury and is listed in the Nation Register of Historic Places. We have become a steward of stories for generations of Chicagoans, and are honored to have our National Historic Landmark property be recognized as a building of architectural significance,” said Damien McArdle, general manager of The Drake Hotel.

The Drake Hotel is rich in history and architectural integrity. Conceptualized by architect Benjamin Marshall, the Nation’s first urban resort came to fruition on the cornerstone of the Magnificent Mile and Lake Shore Drive by brothers John and Tracy Drake. The Drake was known as a city within a city, complete with an array of leisure activities and luxurious amenities within its famed front doors, ensuring every guest received nothing less than The Drake Standard of hospitality. Listed in the National Register of Historic Places, its distinguished service and historic traditions offer guests a REAL CHICAGO experience.

The Story

Conceptualized by famed architect Benjamin Howard Marshall, The Drake Hotel came to fruition when John B. Drake and Tracy Corey Drake financed the project in 1919. The doors of The Drake Hotel opened on New Year’s Eve the following year to 2,000 of Chicago’s most distinguished citizens.

Throughout the roaring twenties The Drake became high-society’s first choice in opulence. The Fountain Court, now known as the Palm Court, hosted Chicago's social elite daily for tea—a continuing tradition at The Drake. The popularity of the illustrious urban resort continued to rise well into the 1930s seemingly unaffected by the crash of 1929. Icons such as Bing Crosby, Walt Disney, George Gershwin, and Charles Lindbergh could be seen sipping a cocktail and listening to Herbie Kay in The Gold Coast Room.

In 1932 the Cape Cod Room became Chicago’s first choice for fresh fish and seafood and the nation’s first themed restaurant. Twenty years later, seen laughing over drinks, newlyweds Marilyn Monroe and Joe Dimaggio would carve their iconic initials into the bar’s world famous wooden counter.

On December 6th, 1933, the day after prohibition was repealed, Coq d’Or opened to the favor of thirsty patrons eager to purchase a 40 cent whiskey. In the 1940s it became a local hangout for reporters, politicians, and even some notorious characters, though it never lost the true Chicago crowd.

In 1940, The Drake sign was illuminated solidifying the hotel’s rightful place in the most internationally recognized skyline. The 40s proved to be a decade of colossal change, both at The Drake and around the world. The Palm Court changed seasonally to accommodate the changing palate of the sophisticated patrons. In the winter, to set the holiday tone, the fountain was replaced with a 2,000-pound fireplace. In the summer, to get the cool lake breeze, the ceiling was open and the fountain was filled with fresh water.

Throughout the 50s and 60s the political and social climate of Chicago was evolving and The Drake was inclined to develop alongside the city. By the 1970s the John Hancock Center towered over The Drake, providing a frame of evolution for the half-century hotel.

In 1980 Hilton International acquired The Drake Hotel and restored it to its former glory. The Drake Hotel guests see today provides the grandeur of the past and accommodations fitting for today’s high society.

Though The Drake has progressed both architecturally and technologically, the roots of The Drake Hotel run deep beneath Lake Shore Drive into Real Chicago.