Amnesty Program: Go Back in Time, Give Back the Crime
For almost 100 years The Drake has stood at the top of the Magnificent Mile as a pillar of high society. Built in 1920, The Drake Hotel was considered the most luxurious hotel in Chicago. Benjamin Marshall, the original architect, designed the grand dame of hotels with unusual magnificence – it was said there was nothing like it in appearance. Throughout the years, we’ve helped friends and family turn moments into memories, and memories into traditions. Everyone has their Drake story and with that, some have their Drake “souvenir”.
In the last century countless items from the Historic Landmark Property have gone missing. Understanding that our history is part of your history The Drake Hotel is giving guests the opportunity to Go Back in Time and Give Back the Crime with an official pardon. The stories, the memories and the items returned will all be on display – your story will live on within The Drake walls. For the next two months, items will be accepted by mail or in person and without guilt or suspicion—no questions asked. This amnesty program is in preparation for The Drake’s official history tour which will launch this spring.
Please address your submissions to 140 East Walton Place, Chicago IL 60611, Attention: Marketing Department. Or call 312.932.4532.
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On December 6th, 1933, the day after prohibition was repealed, Coq d’Or opened to the favor of thirsty patrons eager to purchase a 40 cent whiskey.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.
While The Drake Hotel thrived in an era of economic downfall the Drake brothers were not so lucky. In 1937 they were forced to sell to The Kirkeby Brothers chain. This turnover marked an absolute change in The Drake’s path toward landmark status.
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.