Throwback Thursday
Staring Down From The Rock

Earlier this week we showed you photographs from the party that was thrown recently on the roof of the not-quite-completed skyscraper at 200 North Michigan Avenue called MiLa.

The photographer was Joe Zekas of YoChicago!, and Mr. Zekas must have some crazy good photo gear because of what we were able to notice in the background of one of the pictures he sent us:

The rooftop addition to 1 Prudential Plaza formerly known as the Top of the Rock (Courtesy of Joe Zekas/YoChicago!)

The rooftop addition to 1 Prudential Plaza formerly known as the Top of the Rock (Courtesy of Joe Zekas/YoChicago!)

It’s the old observation deck that used to awe tourists and locals alike at the top of One Prudential Plaza (130 East Randolph Street).  The Top of the Rock closed in early 1976, but when it was open it was open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  Take that, 360 Chicago and Skydeck Chicago.

When the Prudential observatory closed it was seen as an indication that the Loop was on a serious downward slide toward Milwaukee-dom — a condition that afflicts many American cities from Columbus to Indianapolis to Charlotte where downtowns are the domains of suburban office workers during the day and virtually abandoned at night.

Over the decades, great pains have been taken and many millions of dollars spent to make sure the Loop remained a vibrant place to visit and live 24-hours a day, though those efforts appear lost on the writers of a certain New York-based entertainment magazine which in spite of putting out an alleged Chicago edition repeatedly insists that nobody lives in The Loop and that there is nothing to do there.

In the last few years the Loop seems to be firmly on the up-swing as retailers and restaurants start to move in, lured by the explosion in residential and hotel development.

In the 1950’s, the Top of the Rock didn’t have Millennium Park to look over, or half of the skyscrapers that now protrude from the Loop.  Considering the crowds that pack the Cliffdweller’s Club for views during Open House Chicago, perhaps it is time for Stouffer’s to flip around the “Open” sign so people can once again get a piece of the rock.

Location: 130 East Randolph Street, The Loop



Author: Editor

Editor founded the Chicago Architecture Blog in 2003, after a long career in journalism. He can be reached at

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