The seeds of my love affair with Chicago’s Palmer House were sown back in 1969. An anxious and giddy teenager, I was thrilled that the famous hotel had been chosen for my senior prom. I vividly recall stepping into the opulent lobby, with its Tiffany 24-karat gold chandeliers, majestic “Winged Angels” (the largest bronze statues ever made by Tiffany), and its magnificent domed ceiling painted with Grecian frescoes. I was the ugly duckling, suddenly become a lovely swan. I was Cinderella. My handsome, tux-clad prince offered his arm as we promenaded through the glittering lobby and up the staircase to the ballroom, where we danced the night away.
Although I no longer live in Chicago, I recently attended a conference in the Loop and spent a few extra days in the city. Memories came flooding back one afternoon when I turned a corner and found myself in front of the Palmer House. I stood on the sidewalk, debating whether or not to go inside. Perhaps it would be best to remember it the way it was on that fairy-tale night. But the temptation to revisit my past was too strong; I stepped through the front entrance and descended the stairs to the lobby. And just like that I was 17 again, rendered speechless by the exquisite surroundings.