The Drake Hotel

On January 17, 1920, Tracy and John Drake laid the cornerstone for their new hotel. It had been a decade since they opened the Blackstone and in that time the brothers had established a reputation as men who knew a thing or two about innkeeping. To be fair, that was expected. Their father, John Burroughs Drake, had been one of the most respected hoteliers of the nineteenth century and they’d learned from the master. It was probably no coincidence that Tracy and John chose that specific date to lay the cornerstone, considering it would have been their dad’s 94th birthday.

The location was ideal—or at least it would be soon. Lake Shore Drive curved from north to east right in front of their lot. Oak Street Beach was on the other side. Mansions radiated west and north, including the extravagant Palmer Castle, which meant their neighbors were the kind of people who could afford to stay in luxurious hotels and who would want a convenient place for visitors. Perhaps the biggest draw for this particular location was that within four months the Boulevard Link would open, an innovative bridge that would connect the north and south sides of Chicago with a broad artery. Pine Street, as the one-lane dirt road was called from the Chicago River to Ohio Street, and Lincoln Park Boulevard, as the rest of it was called, would soon be widened and paved. When the Drake Hotel opened later that year, it would be sitting pretty on promenade-lined Michigan Avenue with a view of the lake and a direct line to the Blackstone, two miles to the south.

Read more about this landmark in Living Landmarks of Chicago.

Completed: 1920
Architect: Marshall & Fox
Address: 140 E. Walton Pl.

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Sources for The Drake

This is a selection of specific sources used to provide details while researching this landmark. Additional sources, including books and websites, can be found on the Resources page.

  • The Drake Hotel History
  • “John B. Drake Dead.” The Inter Ocean. 13 Nov 1895.
  • “Lay Cornerstone of New Lake Shore Drive Hotel.” The Chicago Tribune. 18 Jan 1920.
  • “Loan Completes Refinance Plan of Drake Hotel.” The Chicago Tribune. 23 Aug 1932.
  • Morgan, Adam. “A Brief History of Chicago’s Other Haunted Hotel.” Chicago Magazine, 30 Oct 2017.
  • National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form
  • “New Year’s Eve Gayety.” The Chicago Tribune. 02 Jan 1921.
  • “Owner Resumes Management of Drake Property.” The Chicago Tribune. 13 Jan 1946.

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