10 April 65 : A peek inside luxurious Marina City : Chicago, USA

This continues the letter dated 8 April 1965, which began:
Dear Family,

Saturday 10th April.

Had a good day today and did a lot of sightseeing in Chicago. This was quite an eye opener. I don’t know what your idea of Chicago is, but mine was quite different to what it is really like. Chicago is a beautiful place.

Firstly Lake Michigan is very nice, much bigger than I ever imagined, as it’s about 100 miles across (it’s only 20 miles to France from Dover). So as you can imagine it’s just like the sea. Very clean indeed, and beautiful beaches all along it’s coast.

The city itself is very modern with lots of very fashionable stores and new modern hotels and skyscrapers. There is a terrific parkway along the water’s edge and many interesting things to see. A yacht harbour (or marina), a huge free aquarium, a museum, a stadium and a huge exhibition hall.

1965 04 10 Chicago river postcard front
Tony’s postcard, captioned: Chicago “The City Beautiful”. View showing Chicago River looking east toward Lake Michigan. In the background are many of Chicago’s skyscrapers.

We spent ages wandering around the centre of the town and were really very impressed.

It’s not a bit like the seamy place that is shown in all the old gangster films. The people here are very friendly indeed, and one thing happened this afternoon which really ‘made’ our visit.

One of the most famous features of Chicago is Marina City. This is world famous. I remember reading about it in a magazine in the barbers in Lewis’s about 18 months ago.

I have enclosed a postcard which will explain it better. These two towers, or cylindrical skyscrapers, contain private apartments and are 60 storeys high.

They are world famous as being the most futuristic, and also the highest, apartment buildings in the world. The first 15 floors are for parking of their cars (and in the basement are boat docks for their private boats), and the remaining floors are luxury apartments.

1965 04 10 Chicago postcard front
Tony’s postcard – caption below

caption of postcard

We had heard that there was a restaurant on the top floor, so we decided to go along to see the view. However, when we got there we found all the doors leading into the buildings were locked. It looked as if we couldn’t go in after all – when we had one of our amazing strokes of luck, which we seem to have quite frequently.

A car drew up and out stepped a woman. I asked her how we could get to the restaurant, and she told us it was in the basement and for residents only. I said we had really only wanted to see the view, and she said “Well, if you would carry up the bookcase which is in the trunk of my car, you can see it from my place.”

So, we carried her bookcase and went up to her 40th floor luxury apartment. We were shown around and we went out onto the balcony and saw the tremendous view of Chicago. She was most apologetic because she was only on the 40th floor!! – and then she had a brainwave.

Apparently she had some bathroom scales which belonged to a lady who lived on the top floor of the other building, so she phoned her up and arranged for us to carry them over.

So, having carried a bookcase to see the 40th floor view from one tower, we now set off with the scales to the 60th floor of the other tower. The first woman had to come to let us in with her passkey, and we shot up to the top.

The second apartment was terrific and we learnt that she paid $600 a month (about £50 a week) rent. It was up to the Eden Rock Hotel standard, and they also had a Buick and a Cadillac – and a boat in the basement!!

She showed us all around the place and we went onto one of her balconies (she had three). So we were extremely lucky, as you can imagine. Not many people have been in a top apartment of Marina City.

1965 04 10 postcard rear

1965 04 10 postcasd front

Postcard reads: April 10th 1965. Went to the top floor of the right hand tower. Oblong hole on ground is a skating rink. Cars can be seen parked on lower floors and boats can be taken into the basement directly from the water. The river (River Chicago) flows into the Lake Michigan.

Caption reads: Marina City. This beautiful apartment house was designed to be a city within itself. It has restaurants, barber shops, beauty salons, Men and Women’s clothing shops, several recreational areas, along with boat and dry dock facilities. Every convenience of modern day living right within its own walls.
To be continued…

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