10 Historic Facts About The Wrigley Building

Who would have thought that a building commissioned by a chewing gum company would become one of the most iconic landmarks in Chicago, right?

Well, that’s exactly what happened. In this post, you’ll discover some of the most interesting facts about the Wrigley Building, an amazing icon in the city featuring a remarkable clock tower.

1. It’s located in a particular spot on Michigan Avenue

The Wrigley Building is a fascinating structure in many ways. It’s located right in the heart of Downtown Chicago and is surrounded by multiple other historic buildings and structures.

It’s located on Michigan Avenue just north of the Chicago River and the DuSable Bridge. This is the start of the so-called “Magnificent Mile,” an upscale section of one of the most famous avenues in the city.

Other notable structures in the area are the Trump Tower and Hotel which is just located to the southwest, and the equally iconic Tribune Tower, a building constructed for the Chicago Tribune newspaper which was completed in 1925.

Much further down the road, you can also find the Willis Tower, the highest building in the city at 442 meters (1,450 feet).

Magnificent Mile Wrigley Building
VIew down the Magnificent Mile / TonyTheTiger / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en

2. It was built as the headquarters of a Chicago-based company

The building was commissioned by the Wrigley Company, a manufacturer of chewing gum known as “Wrigley’s Gum.”

This company was originally founded in 1891 and has since been merged with “Mars Incorporated,” an equally famous producer of chocolate candy bars.

It originally served its purpose as an office building and more particularly, as the headquarters of the Wrigley Company.

Today, this company is known as the “Mars Wrigley Confectionery” and has become the largest chewing gum producer in the world.

The groundbreaking of the 2 buildings that make up the complex was conducted in 1920 (yes, well over a century ago already).

The south tower (which features the iconic clock tower), was already completed by April 1921, but the north tower, which features more office space, was completed 3 years later in May 1924.

Wrigley Building Chicago river
View from the Chicago River / Diego Delso / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en

3. The tower resembles that of a famous structure in southern Spain

The building was designed by Graham, Anderson, Probst & White, a local architectural firm that was operational until 2006.

Other famous landmarks in the city that they designed included the Museum of Science and Industry and the Civic Opera House, Chicago’s most famous opera venue.

Even though the building was ornamented with French Renaissance elements, the most prominent feature of the structure is the clock tower. This reaches a height of 130 meters (425 feet) which effectively makes it a magnificent skyscraper as well.

This great tower was modeled on the clock tower of Seville Cathedral, a structure known as “La Giralda.” The resemblance of the design of the two towers is indeed striking.

Wrigley Building Clock Tower
Detail of the clock tower / Alves Gaspar / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en

4. The 2 buildings are connected with 3 walkways

Upon completion of both buildings, there were two walkways to make it easy to move from the north to the south tower and vice versa. These are located on the first and third floors.

The most remarkable walkway was only added later on in the year 1931 and is situated on the 14th floor. This walkway was added to connect two banks located within the buildings with each other.

Wrigley Building Walkways
Detail of the walkways / Bex Walton / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en

5. The structure still serves its purpose as an office building

Even though the Wrigley Company built the structure and was headquartered here, this isn’t the case today.

They don’t even own the building anymore because it was sold to a group of investors for $33 million. This is the equivalent of $72 per square foot, which is in our opinion pretty cheap for such an amazing property on this location.

The new owners were a collection of investors including the Zeller Realty Group and the co-founders of Groupon. They clearly had some spare change left so they renovated the building extensively.

Some of the facilities that were added include a Walgreens pharmacy, a coffee shop, a fitness center, and even a nursing home for mothers. This was done in an attempt to attract potential tenants.

Wrigley Building area
The area around the building / Pedro Szekely / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0

More interesting facts about the Wrigley Building

6. Back in the early 1920s, the Chicago skyline looked quite different than it does today. There weren’t that many skyscrapers back then, something emphasized by one particular fact.

Even though the area is now full of tall structures, the Wrigley Building was the first office building to be constructed north of the Chicago River. before its completion, the high structures were all concentrated to the south of the river.

7. The DuSable bridge was named after the first non-Indigenous man to settle here named “Jean Baptiste Point du Sable” in 1780. He is therefore considered to be the “Founder of Chicago.”

The location that he built his house is commemorated by a plaque located on Pioneer Court, a square right across from the building. You can’t really build a structure closer to the historic heart of the city, that’s for sure.

Wrigley Building from Pioneer court
View from Pioneer Court / Alves Gaspar / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0

8. Even though the Wrigley company originally used the building as its headquarters but ended up selling the building, they haven’t moved out of Chicago.

This global company is now headquartered at the “Mars Wrigley Global HQ,” a massive structure located on an artificial island called “Goose Island.”

This is located just northwest of Downtown Chicago, just a few miles away from their original home.

Mars Wrighley Headquarters today
Mars Wrigley Global HQ / Jeremy Atherton / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en

9. The two buildings that make up the structure don’t have the same height. The south tower features 30 floors and the north tower just 21 floors.

Combined, both buildings have a total floor space of 42,125.3 square meters (453,433 square feet).

The distinctive tower features a clock that faces all sides and which have a diameter of 5.97 meters (19 feet 7 inches). That’s more than big enough to see the time from quite some distance.

10. The buildings are clad with glazed terracotta, a feature that gives the building its distinctive white appearance.

Because of pollution and the resulting accumulation of dirt, this façade often needs to be cleaned. This way, the building can retain its impeccable white color.

Wrigley Building facts
The amazing building / Daryl Mitchell / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/deed.en