This slender skyscraper at East Wacker Drive was built between 1926 and 1928, as the headquarters of the Mather Stock Car Company. The Mather Tower was named for Alonzo C. Mather, a businessman and philanthropist who was born in New York in 1848. Mather became the founder of the Mather Stock Car Company, a leading manufacturer of railroad livestock cars designed to provide more humane shipment of animals. The tower, now known by its address, was Chicago's second tallest building (41 stories) when it was completed in 1928.
Mather Tower is Chicago's most slender skyscraper, a Jazz Age silhouette against the city's skyline. Richly clad in stylized Gothic terra cotta, Mather is one of Chicago’s best "Modernistic" skyscrapers, combining modern form with lush historic ornament both in its exterior and interior. It reflects Chicago's 1920's obsession with height, encouraged by the 1923 Chicago Zoning Ordinance which called for tall, slender, "setback" towers.
Mather Tower briefly was the city's tallest structure and forms a critical part of one of the city's most memorable building ensembles of early 20 th -century skyscrapers located at the intersection of the Michigan Avenue Bridge and Wacker Drive.
The S.S. Eastland Disaster Memorial
This plaque along the Chicago Riverwalk commemorates the 1915 Eastland Disaster, one of the most deadly maritime disasters of the 20th century. The capsizing of the S. S. Eastland led to the death of an estimated 848 passengers and crew and remains the largest loss of life from a single shipwreck on the Great Lakes. Most of the victims were factory workers and their children, and twenty-two entire families saw the loss of both parents and all of their children on that day.
On the morning of July 24, 1915, four major passenger steamers ready to take over 7,000 passengers to the Western Electric Company’s company picnic across Lake Michigan in Michigan City, Indiana. On the Eastland, nearly 2,500 Western Electric employees, crew members, and employee family members were on board. Around 7:30 am that morning, while still docked in the Chicago River, the Eastland capsized. Out of the 2,500 passengers, 844 passengers and four crew members drowned.
While the Eastland Disaster made headlines for a few days, media coverage soon focused on other events such as the marriage of a millionaire heiress in Michigan the following week. More passengers lost their lives in this disaster than the Titanic, although far more crew members lost their lives on the Titanic than the Eastland. That the Titanic tends to focus on the death of passengers while few people remember the Eastland demonstrates the tendency for tragedies involving non-elites and working-class victims to receive less media coverage. the story of the Eastland might have also ended in the wrongful arrest of crew members had it not been for the efforts of attorney Clarence Darrow who demonstrated the innocence of the chief engineer and other crew members.