“For many miles distant the ever-circling powerful light beam from the Lindbergh light can be seen, ’ Lighting, lighting the airway mail’ - the most powerful searchlight imaginable. It is mounted on a tower which extends high above the top of the tall Palmolive building, which in itself is a modern skyscraper landmark which overlooks miles and miles of Chicago’s never-ending shoreline. It is on Michigan Avenue, near north side.”
The Palmolive Building was called the Playboy Building from 1965 to 1989 when it was home to
Playboy Enterprises. This view of the building from North Michigan Avenue on April 27, 1983,
includes the top of the
Chicago Water Tower. Photograph by A. Robert Mata
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1929 Palmolive Building, Chicago IL: Built for one of the world’s leading soap manufacturers, this office building (“a monument to cleanliness”) was the first commercial skyscraper built far from the Loop - at the northern end of Michigan Avenue. It is one of the country’s premier Art Deco-style “set-back” skyscrapers, the design of which were influenced by municipal zoning laws and the dramatic renderings of New York architect Hugh Ferris. The building was designed by one of Chicago’s oldest and most prestigious architectural firms, whose other significant buildings include the 333 North Michigan Building, the Chicago Board of Trade, and the former Chicago Daily News Building.
A navigational beacon operated atop the building from 1930-1981. It was known as the Playboy Building from 1965 to 1989, when it served as headquarters for Playboy magazine. It was designated a Chicago Landmark in 2000, as was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2003.
Today, the building is being converted for residential use by developer Draper and Kramer. The first two floors house upscale office and retail space. High-end condos make up the rest of the building. Perhaps its most famous residents are Vince Vaughn and Lou Piniella.