The "Father Time" Clock at 35 East Wacker Drive in Chicago is located at the Jeweler's Building which faces the Chicago River.
Aside from the fact that it's a beautiful building with a fancy dome on top of it, it has a very cool history. Construction started in 1925 and was completed in 1927.
Since this was originally a jewelers building, it had many different security features. One of them was a really extreme version of a parking garage. Since jewelers would carry their merchandise around with them, they were often in danger of being robbed. So, to make sure no one was attacked on the walk between the car and the office, jeweler's just drove their car straight into the building! For its first 14 years, the building had a car lift that served the first 23 floors and facilitated safe transfers for jewelry merchants. The car elevator would bring you to the floor you worked on and then drop your car off on one of the parking levels. From the security office, a lock-down would commence upon any tenant's trigger of the alarm system. All outside doors would lock and elevators would stop at the next floor, doors remaining closed, and would not move.
The best part of this 40 story building is the dome at the top.
The Stratosphere Club in the dome was not, nor ever was a speakeasy, and Al Capone never stepped foot in the Stratosphere Club.
The creation of the Stratosphere Club was announced in the Tribune. In January 10, 1937, a Tribune article entitled “City’s Highest Restaurant Being Built.” Owner Paul Streeter, he named the club after a closed club which was in the Rockefeller Center in New York.
The Stratosphere was scheduled to open in March and was the top four floors – a kitchen on the 37th, a regular restaurant on the 38th and 39th, and a cocktail lounge on the 40th. An ornate birdcage elevator took guests to the 40th-floor. The lounge was decorated as a hot air balloon, accentuating the outstanding views of the Chicago River and the Loop.
The Stratosphere Club opened in March of 1937. Al Capone had already been in Alcatraz since August 22, 1934, and prohibition ended on December 5, 1933.
The club was a big hit, but by 1954, the cupola was converted into a showroom for a commercial artist who kept and used the old circular bar of the Stratosphere Club. Presently, it's the private conference room and showroom for architect Helmut Jahn, with his offices in Suite 300 of the Jewelers Building. Jahn designed that awesome terminal corridor at O'Hare with the moving walkways and ceiling light sculpture.
NOTE: A Facebook comment from Mr. T. R. about this article:
"I used to give [Chicago] tours on double-decker buses, river & lake tours. We [and I] used to tell the story of Al Capone and the Stratosphere Club [being a speakeasy] and we always believed it to be true. All those people that I lied to through the years."Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.