Wilbur Foshay made a fortune in public utilities, and he built the first Midwestern skyscraper outside Chicago as a monument to himself. Italian, French, Belgian, and American marbles, along with gold- and silver-plated ceilings, were installed throughout the art deco interior. Wilbur's office and home on the 27th and 28th floors featured African mahogany and magnificent teak, rose, and walnut paneling. On August 29, 1929, his castle was opened to the world with a three-day gala celebration featuring not only a brass band, but a commissioned Sousa march as well: "The Foshay Tower-Washington Memorial March." Two months later Foshay was broke, under indictment for phony stock schemes. His check to Sousa bounced. Legend has it that his name in lights on the tower was left unlit so as not to shame the city for his jazz-age hubris. Somehow the Foshay survived the ordeal and continues to rent space at a lively rate. The observation deck is open to the public in the summer months, offering one of the best views (between the taller glass towers, that is) in town.


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