The Prudential Building – Chicago, Illinois

IL, Chicago - The Prudential Building - Chicago, Illinois (1)

This small pamphlet/brochure, produced around 1959/1960  about the recently opened Prudential Building in Chicago

IL, Chicago - The Prudential Building - Chicago, Illinois (2)

These are just a few facts about Chicago’s first new skyscraper built since 1934. A few more facts (from Chicago Architecture info).

  • Construction started in 1952 and was completed in 1955. The opening date was December 8, 1955

    Southern Illinoisan – December 9, 1955
  • Designed by the Firm of Ness and Murphy
  • 41 stories tall

IL, Chicago - The Prudential Building - Chicago, Illinois (3)

This great fish-eye Panorama map from the Prudential features a numbered map of the Chicago skyline when this one printed.

IL, Chicago - The Prudential Building - Chicago, Illinois (4)

With a charge of 50 cents for adults and 25 cents for Children, the Prudential really did offer “The Most Dramatic View in Chicago.”

Found Kodachrome slide

This found photo from the Summer of 1958 shows the view towards Buckingham Fountain and the Field Museum.


This view, from a different series of found slides, is from the Summer of 1960 and features the down Michigan Avenue with the Mandel-Lear Building and the Wrigley Building in the fore front.

View down Michigan Avenue towards the Prudential sometime in the late 50s.

The view wasn’t just for sightseeing. Stouffer’s Top of the Rock was the place for visitors to see and be seen. According to language on the back of a late ’50s postcard, the restaurant and cocktail lounge was the place to:

Enjoy “cocktails in the clouds” in Stouffer’s fabulous glass-enclosed “Top of the Rock” lounge and see one of the most spectacular views in the Midwest! On a clear day you’ll see way beyond Chicago . . . to Michigan, Indiana and Wisconsin!

Late 1950s postcard

Eventually tastes changed and The Top of the Rock fell out of favor and closed along with the Observation Deck.


I will do a write-up on the history and imagery of Stouffer’s Restaurant and the other Top of the… Restaurants at a different time.

The Prudential is still standing tall in Chicago and is now known as One Prudential Plaza.. A second skyscraper was built on 1990 and is known as The Prudential Tower.

I highly recommend this 2012 post from Connecting the Windy City for facts and insight on the Prudential.

4 thoughts on “The Prudential Building – Chicago, Illinois

  1. I remember this building and Top of the Rock well. In the late 1950’s when I was in grammar school, I would come downtown with my dad when he went to work at the LaSalle Street Depot. I would spend my day walking around downtown with my trusty Brownie Camera. Went up to the observation deck at the top of the Prudential Building (as well as the observation deck at the top of the Board of Trade Building on LaSalle Street). During my high school years in the first half of the 1960’s, I ate at the Top of the Rock several times. It was also one of the last restaurants I went to before I entered service in 1966. Ah, what memories! Thanks for helping me remember them and this building.

  2. I remember taking the escalator to the observation deck—what a view! The Prudential was the first building to be built East of Michigan Ave. on air rights I believe. Boy, have things changed in that area since 1955.

  3. When I turned 21, I went to the Top of the Rock and had a Singapore sling over looking Chicago – 55 years ago. The world changes and so does Chicago. I miss the Old Town Atmosphere. The Art Studios, Kings Knight Club on State and Rush, Over all an amazing journey from the beginning to the sunset

  4. 1960 Chicago and just 1960 USA was the best time for our city our nation. Such style, good economy America on top, things getting better. Beautiful women dressed in classy clothes. Jackie Kennedy was our first lady. What a time to be alive.

    Ours is not a good time and the future looks terrifying.

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