A Pop Culture History of Marina City: A Look at its Most Famous Media Moments
Marina City’s unique architectural style has long been a favorite of film and TV directors. Because the towers have a history of being included in some of our favorite media, we decided to put together a compilation of Marina City’s most famous pop culture moments.
Wilco’s “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot” Album Cover
In 2002, Chicago-native band Wilco placed Marina City on the cover of their “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot” album. Based on the chatter we see on social media, this is the most popular instance of Marina City in recent pop culture memory, with fans often referring to the towers as the ‘Wilco Towers’.
A.V. Club explains how Marina City came to be on the front of Wilco’s album:
“Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy and the band’s longtime graphic designer, Lawrence Azerrad (cousin of author Michael), were struggling with the design for Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. They wanted something that connected the band to its hometown, so they combed through hundreds of photos shot by Sam Jones (who would later release a film about the album called I Am Trying To Break Your Heart). Nothing was working until they saw a picture of Marina City. Azerrad removed the neighboring buildings from the image to keep focus on the towers, and Yankee Hotel Foxtrot had its cover. Paste ranked it number 18 in its list of the decade’s 25 best album covers, and nearly 10 years after the album’s release, Marina City is still called “the Wilco towers” by fans.”
Though the 1980 thriller “The Hunter” starring Steve McQueen only has a 55% rating on review site Rotten Tomatoes, many people still fondly remember the famous car chase scene that ends with a big splash. (Warning: movie spoilers ahead!)
The movie is based on the real life exploits of bounty hunter Ralph “Papa” Thorson. In the movie, Thorson is sent to Chicago to apprehend a dangerous ex-con. The film progresses with the characters exchanging gunfire, embarking on a foot chase through city streets and even a not so pleasant ride on the roof of one of Chicago’s famous EL cars. To end the chase, both characters end up stealing cars and racing to the top of Marina City’s spiral parking garage, where the fugitive plunges off the ramp into the Chicago River.
You can watch the clip below.
In 2006 Illinois-based insurer Allstate restaged the famous scene from The Hunter, driving a 1987 Oldsmobile Cutlass off the Marina City parking ramp into the Chicago River.
You can watch the commercial below, or enjoy a video of the view from across the street here.
Nick Wallenda’s Marina City Tightrope Walk
On Sunday November 2nd, 2014, the world watched as someone walked 500 feet above the Chicago River on a tightrope with no safety harness. It wasn’t just anyone making the walk: it was legendary dare devil Nick Wallenda.
Nick completed two separate walks that evening. The first walk led Nick from Marina City’s West Tower, across the Chicago River, ending at the Leo Burnett building. This walk took him 6 minutes and 52 seconds to complete. He then completed a second dare devil act by tightrope walking, while blindfolded, the 94 feet between Marina City’s West and East Tower roofs, completed in only 77 seconds.
Many Marina City residents watched in awe from their balconies; some even managed to capture video of the tower to tower walk from just floors below. You can see a video taken by one of Marina City’s residents below.
In addition to these features in music, movies and television, Marina City has also appeared in:
- The opening credits of the “Bob Newhart Show”
- “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” during the parade sequence down Dearborn Street
- Episodes of “Chicago Fire”
- Episodes of “Chicago P.D.”
- And more!
Living in Marina City not only gives residents the bragging rights that come from residing in a City of Chicago Landmark building; it means their building was damaged by alien robots in “Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon”.
We want to know: what’s your favorite pop culture moment featuring Marina City? Let us know in the comments!
Photo courtesy of CBCRADIO