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15 Cool Tribune Tower Facts

This famous building has been dominating the Chicago skyline for nearly a century.

In this post, you’ll discover the ultimate list of Tribune Tower facts, one of the most iconic skyscrapers ever constructed!

1. It was built in the 1920s

The Roaring Twenties as they are called were a time of innovation, especially when it comes to architecture. Numerous skyscrapers were constructed in this period, culminating in a “race to the sky” with the Chrysler Building and the Empire State Building in New York City fighting to become the tallest building in the world.

They both achieved this goal, even though the Chrysler Building was just for 11 months.

This fictional competition raging in New York overshadowed some other notable events, including the construction of one of the most iconic skyscrapers in Chicago, the Tribune Tower, which was constructed between 1923 and 1925.

Tribune tower facts
Tribune Tower / Source

2. It used to be the headquarters of a famous publishing company

The reason it was constructed was to house the new headquarters of the Chicago Tribune, one of the major newspapers in the city which was about to celebrate its 75 years of existence in 1922.

The building also housed the main offices of Tribune Media and Tribune Publishing and was used by WGN Radio to broadcast until June 2018, after which they moved to 303 Wacker Drive.

3. A massive design competition was organized for its design

In order to find a fitting design for their new home, the Chicago Tribune organized an architectural design competition. The winning design was to receive $100,000 and the runner-up $50,000, not a shabby amount by any means at the time.

It turned out to be a huge success because over 260 designs were submitted by architectural firms from all around the world, including Mexico, Cuba, Luxembourg, and Australia!

Tribune tower from the street
The tower / Velvet /

4. It was a huge event in American architectural history

Art-Facts Youtube Channel

Because of the international nature of the competition, it turned out to be much more than just another architectural contest. It became one of the most influential events in architectural history!

It shaped the way architects from all around the world thought about designing skyscrapers and had a profound influence on numerous skylines of big cities in the modern age!

Quite something, isn’t it?

5. The most influential design didn’t win the competition

One of the most fascinating Tribune Tower facts is that the actual winning design didn’t turn out to become the most influential building. This honor was reserved for the so-called “Saarinen tower” designed by Finnish architect Eliel Saarinen.

His design won the second prize but managed to become the main influence on dozens of other famous skyscrapers, including the Daily News Building in New York, the Fisher Building in Detroit, and the Russ Building in San Francisco!

You surely recognize this design from somewhere, right?

The Saarinen Tower
The Saarinen Tower / Wiki Commons

6. It’s inspired by a famous skyscraper in New York City

The actual winning design was submitted by two architects from New York named John Mead Howells and Raymond Hood. They used a neo-Gothic design that was inspired by a famous building in their hometown.

Howells and Hood got the inspiration for their design from the Woolworth Building, a famous skyscraper in New York that was completed in the year 1913.

interesting facts about the Woolworth Building

7. Hood worked on another famous project in New York a decade later

Raymond Hood managed to become the leading architect on another massive project a decade later. If you look closely at the buildings of Rockefeller Center, it’s clear you can see a resemblance!

Rockefeller Center would turn out to become one of the only major construction projects that were completed during the Great Depression and is still an important landmark in New York today!

rockefeller plaza

8. How tall is the Tribune Tower?

The Tribune Tower is far from the tallest building in Chicago. It only has 36 floors and the top floor is located at a height of 462 feet (141 meters) while the roof is located at a height of 470 feet (140 meters).

The architectural height, up to the antenna spire, reaches a height of 496 feet (151 meters).

9. Its most prominent feature is best visible at night

The tower is heavily decorated with amazing sculptures and fabulous buttresses at the top. The elaborate elements aren’t too visible from the ground level and really shine as they are lit at night!

Tribune tower at night
The tower at night / Victorgrigas /

10. The decorations near the entrance are a reference to the tower’s architects

One of the most amazing Tribune Tower facts is that there it’s decorated with numerous sculptures, especially near the entrance which really makes the neo-Gothic style of the building come out.

Two of these sculptures are a reference to the main architects as there are sculptures of Robin Hood (Hood) and of a howling dog (Howells).

Tribune tower entrance
Entrance of the tower / Ken Lund /

11. The top of the tower was inspired by a French cathedral

While the overall design of the building was created in the neo-Gothic architectural style, the top section of the tower was inspired by a specific tower of a cathedral in France.

It’s noted that the top was inspired by the “Tour de Beurre” (Butter Tower) of the Rouen Cathedral in France, or possibly the “Tower of Malines” in Belgium. Both these towers are attached to a cathedral.

Butter tower rouen
The Butter Tower of Rouen Cathedral.

12. Fragments of numerous famous buildings were incorporated in the structure

One of the coolest Tribune Tower facts is that stones from numerous famous buildings all across the globe are embedded into its structure. These stones can be seen at the lower levels of the tower with an explanation as to where they came from.

Some of the most notable stones were extracted from:

There are about 150 fragments of monuments and famous buildings embedded into the Tribune Tower from all across the globe!

Pretty fascinating, isn’t it?

Edinburgh castle stone tribune tower
1 of the 150 stones / HaSt /

13. The building has inspired structures in Australia as well

To say that the Tribune Tower was an influential building is an understatement. It hasn’t just inspired dozens of designs in the United States, it also inspired several buildings all across the world.

Two of the most notable are located in Australia, the Manchester Unity Building in Melbourne, and the Grace Building in Sydney. Both these buildings were completed in the 1930s.

Grace Building in Sydney
Grace Building in Sydney / Ales Proimos /

14. The Tribune Tower was featured in a popular movie

Just like many other famous landmarks, the Tribune Tower has been featured in a movie. And not just any movie, it was featured in the blockbuster “Transformers: Dark of the Moon.”

In the scene it was featured, snipers are shooting out of the windows of the Tribune Tower, just below the buttresses near the top of the building on the 26th floor.

fun facts about the tribune tower
The tower / TonyTheTiger /

15. It’s possible to live in the Tribune Tower!

Did you know that the Tribune Tower has been seriously renovated between 2018 and 2020 and that the spaces have been transformed into condos and penthouses?

Yes, that means that you can actually live in the Tribune Tower!

You’re going to have to pay some serious money though because prices range from $700,000 for small condos and up to $8 million for penthouses that occupy entire floors!

Living in a building that has fragments of 150 of the most famous landmarks in the world integrated into it sounds pretty cool, doesn’t it?

Living in the tribune tower condos