The Drake Hotel, 140 East Walton Place, Chicago, Illinois, is a luxury full-service hotel, located downtown on the lake side of Michigan Avenue two blocks north of the John Hancock Center and a block south of Oak Street Beach at the top of the Magnificent Mile. It was developed by second generation hotel magnates, Tracy Drake and John Drake (1872-1964) and designed by Marshall and Fox. It is known for the contribution that its signage on the northern side of the building (the Oak Street side) makes to the Gold Coast skyline.
Overlooking Lake Michigan, it was founded in 1920, designed in the Italian Renaissance style by the firm of Marshall and Fox, and soon became one of Chicago's landmark hotels, a longtime rival of the Palmer House. It has 537 bedrooms and 74 suites, a six-room Presidential Suite, several restaurants, two large ballrooms and the "Palm Court", a club-like secluded lobby.
Tourists visiting Chicago are often invited to have high tea at the Drake as an essential thing to do in the city. It includes several in-house luxury shops.
All the corridors and guest rooms were renovated in a $45 million five-year project from 1998 to 2003. A further $15 million was spent in 2005 and 2006 to add a fitness center, an executive conference center, and new luxury bedding and desks in all the guest rooms.
When Francesco ("Frank 'The Enforcer' Nitti") Nitto headed the Chicago Outfit in the 1930s through the early 1940s, he maintained his office here for a time in a suite of rooms. He was also shot in his office by two "dirty cops" in a set-up shooting.
The Drake served as the original studios of radio station WGN when it was renamed from WDAP in 1924.
William Drake and his wife Elizabeth lived at the hotel for several years until the family lost the hotel during the Great Depression.
Tracy Drake and John Drake (1872-1964) acquired the property from the estate of Potter Palmer in 1916. The building was financed by a syndicate of family friends including members of the Palmer, Armour, Swift, McCormick families and the hotel's architects, Benjamin Marshall and Charles Fox. At the time of its completion, the Drake was the transition between the fashionable Gold Coast residential area and the new commercial north Michigan Avenue. The building's Walton Place main entrance avoided the commotion of the commercial thoroughfare and increased vehicular access. The Drake brothers upheld the family reputation as a main focus of social, commercial and political life in Chicago with its ownership and management of the city's two (see Blackstone Hotel) most prominent hotels as bookends of Michigan Avenue.