Strowger and Purple Reign Redux | WBEZ
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Strowger and Purple Reign Redux

If you are an undertaker in 1878 Kansas City, and you learn that your competitor's wife works as a telephone switchboard operator and has been diverting business calls meant for you to her husband, you have a few potential courses of action. Almon Brown Stroger picked the one that changed the world. Last July, we told the story of the Purple Hotel. Here's the original story, with an update at the end. -- What’s the difference between what the public sees and what an architect sees when they look at a building? The hotel on the very prominent corner of Touhy and Kilbourn Avenues in Lincolnwood, Illinois used to be the town’s most famous building: The first Hyatt hotel in all of Chicagoland, premiere accommodations, top-notch restaurant. It was swank! Roberta Flack stayed there. Barry Mannilow stayed there. Perry Como. Michael Jordon stayed there on his first night in Chicago. Every thirteen-year-old in the area had their bar mitzvah there. Then, slowly, over time, it became Lincolnwood’s most infamous building. Changed hands, got seedy and run down. It was the home of the Midwest Fetish Fair and Marketplace convention. There were drug-fueled sex parties attended by shady Chicago politicians later convicted of things like extortion. And of course there was the convicted mobster Alan Dorfman, who was gunned down in the parking lot. It’s now dilapidated and empty. But even if you know nothing about the history, everyone in the area knows this hotel. Because it’s purple. Really, really purple.

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