The Neighborhood

1928 map of central Chicago showing prominent buildings in the city, including the Drake Tower, Drake Hotel, and Chicago’s business district. A large red star indicates the location of the Drake Tower in the North East section.
Real estate map of central Chicago, Ross & Browne, 1928. Chicago History Museum, ICHi-037301. The location of Drake Tower is indicated by the star on the map.

The Wormsers’ move to the Drake Tower brought them to the “Gold Coast” of Chicago’s north shore, one of the city’s wealthiest areas. The tower’s tenants were within walking distance of the city’s business center and the best clubs, schools, and amusements. It would have been a marvelous locale for a young woman coming of age in the late 1920s.

The Wormsers’ downtown location would have frequently exposed them to applications of modern design. Chicago was an epicenter for the adoption and the promotion of the new style, and many upscale clubs and shops featured modernist decorations. Just next door at the Drake Hotel, the design firm W.P. Nelson kept a showroom displaying boldly colored work in the modern style. The Tavern Club, frequented by Leo Wormser, was sumptuously furnished with modernist interiors. A short stroll to the south, Marshall Field’s department store mounted displays of model rooms and smaller decorative objects drawn from Austria, Germany, and France.