The Chicago suburb of Oak Park, Illinois is mostly known for its famous residents. That list includes people like Frank Lloyd Wright, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Ernest Hemmingway, and (for readers who are a bit younger) Tavi Gevinson. To may I-290 Chicago commuters, however, the village of Oak Park might be best known for something else. Namely: the Volvo Tower.
I am very familiar with the tower- as is my coworker and inventory manager, Jose Mendez, who was recently featured in an article about the tower by the Chicago Tribune, wherein he describes his first time operating the elevator. “I was so nervous, I would make any excuse to not have to do it,” said Jose. “One Saturday, I had to get a car. By the time I got down, I was sweating bullets!”
I don’t think he was making that up, either. It looks pretty solid from the road, but once you’re up there- the tallest thing in the area- it’s pretty harrowing!
Harrowing or not, the addition of the tower was definitely worth it. In addition to being an eye-catching landmark, the tower does give us a few opportunities to have fun throughout the year we wouldn’t otherwise have. “In terms of what goes in there, normally we try to have something timely,” explains VOP General Manager (and race-winner!) Richard Kirkpatrick. “Sometimes we put red, white, and blue cars in there around American holidays, and for Christmas we’ll drop in red and white cars. We try to have something that’s eye-catching … if the Blackhawks are in the playoffs, we try to put the colors of the sports teams in the rotation at night.”
So, yeah- the Volvo Tower here at my “home base” in Oak Park is pretty cool. To learn more about the construction of the tower- and, because it’s Oak Park, the architects behind it- check out the original article at the Tribune. I think you’ll find it an interesting read, even if you’re not a local!