Outer Drive East (400 East Randolph) Turns 50

When it was built, Outer Drive East was one of the first truly mammoth middle-class apartment structures constructed after World War II, and the building continues to stand out for its size, cost, and location to this day. Designed by FitzGerald’s antecedent firm Reinheimer & Associates, the 40-story development was built in 1963 as the only building built east of Lake Shore Drive—then known as Outer Drive East. Also of note, the building was among the first in the country to be developed using air rights over the Illinois Central Railroad.
Brand new, with its huge white and black balconied façade crowned by an undulating penthouse hiding mechanical equipment, Outer Drive East seemed the epitome of modern comfort. Linked to a glass-domed, kidney-shaped swimming pool, there was “no need to dash off to Florida or southern France to escape the wintery weather,” promised the rental brochure.
The building was converted to condominiums in 1973, and stands today as the largest condominium building under one roof in the State of Illinois with nearly 1,900 residents.
Representatives of the building’s condo board and 42nd Ward Alderman Brendan Reilly gathered to mark the building’s milestone birthday on July 24th, where Alderman Reilly presented a resolution which presents even more background on the building.
Congratulations Extended for the 50th Anniversary of 400 East Randolph
• WHEREAS, 400 East Randolph Street was originally built as an apartment community – opened In 1963, making it the first building built east of Lake Shore Drive – known as Outer Drive East when it opened; and
• WHEREAS, The architectural firm that designed the building was Hirschfield, Pawlan and Reinheimer and the developer was the Jupiter Corporation. The building was originally built of 955 units that included a rooftop restaurant which was converted into two penthouse units on the 40th floor. In 1973 the building was converted to a condominium building; and
• WHEREAS, The building is the largest condominium building under one roof in the state of Illinois, and one of the largest in the country; and
• WHEREAS, 400 East Randolph rises 415 feet and 40 stories, the building features a glazed brick facade supported by poured concrete and steel superstructure, with 8 passenger elevators and 2 freight elevators; and
• WHEREAS, Nearly 1900 people reside in the building and it is governed by a nine member elected board of directors and is managed by The Habitat Company of Chicago. It has amzong its amenities one of the very few geodesic dome swimming pools in the country, and has a recently remodeled fitness center known as the 400 Fitness & Spa for its residents.
• WHEREAS, It has recently completed a 5-year, 27.6 million capital improvement that replaced all of its vertical risers, major infrastructure improvements and the total hallway remodeling of the 32 residential floors
• WHEREAS, Two movies were filmed in the building – Nothing in Common with Jackie Gleason and Tom Hanks in 1986, and Eyes of an Angel with John Travolta in 1991; and
• WHEREAS, Recipient of the Good Neighbor Award in 2010 for Mixed Use Renovation by the Chicago Association of Realtors. 400 East Randolph now consists of 956 units, including 942 residential and 14 commercial units; and
• WHEREAS, The Honorable Brendan Reilly, Alderman of the 42nd Ward, has apprised this eminent body of this auspicious occasion; now, therefore.
• BE IT RESOLVED, That we the Mayor and Council members of the City of Chicago, assembled here this twenty-fourth day of July, 2013 A.D., do hereby honor and recognize the fiftieth anniversary of 400 East Randolph; and
• BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That a copy of this resolution be prepared and presented to the condominium board at 400 East Randolph.
Brendan Reilly Alderman, 42nd Ward