The dueling main columns of Marina City overlook the Chicago River. Its scalloped “corn-on-the-cob” exterior, formed by undulating half-moon balconies, has made it instantly recognizable and a popular setting in movies such as Batman Begins, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and The Blues Brothers. While the historic buildings are largely residential—some 1,400 people call Marina City home today—visitors are welcome to the complex. You can head up to roof decks for 360 degree views of the city skyline, rent boats in the attached marina to explore the Chicago river, dine in restaurants like Smith and Wollensky’s Grill, catch a concert in the House of Blues, and even use the structures’ ice skating rink, swimming pool, and bowling alley.
Marina City’s 588-foot towers, designed by great Chicago architect Bertrand Goldberg, were the tallest residential structures and the tallest concrete buildings in the world when they were constructed in the early 1960s. Forty-stories of pie-shaped apartments, designed to emphasize city views, sit atop twenty stories of parking. Designed as a “city within a city,” with shopping, dining, office buildings, recreational spaces, and entertainment for its residents, the then-novel concept was part of a movement encouraging Chicagoans to return to downtown from the suburbs.
Marina City is located on the Chicago River at 300 N. State Street across from the famous “Loop” central business district. Parking in the area can be challenging, so it’s best to use public transit. The closest stops are Grand on the red line (three blocks north) and the Merchandise Mart on the brown and purple lines (three blocks west).