Industry Update
Press Release20 September 2021

Chicago’s Palmer House, a Hilton Hotel, Celebrates Its 150 Year Anniversary

One of the nation’s longest operating hotels activates its iconic & famed lobby with historic artifacts, revived original recipes, live music and more

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Hilton Hotels & Resorts®

CHICAGO – After first opening its doors in 1871, Palmer House, a Hilton Hotel celebrates its 150th anniversary on September 26, 2021 with a state and city proclamation dedication from the offices of Governor J.B Pritzker Office and Mayor Lori Lightfoot.

“Through the years, Palmer House, a Hilton Hotel has been a pinnacle of resilience, ingenuity, a haven of inclusivity, and instrumental to the growth of Chicago. As a hotel built on love, Palmer House remains engrained into the city of Chicago, serving as a beacon of light following a challenging year,” said Hilton Area General Manager, Dean Lane. “With the demise of the original building due to the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, undeterred Potter Palmer secured the largest hotel real estate loan of its day and rebuilt the second Palmer House. Proving its staying power through the decades, Palmer House has become a hotel of many firsts, famously the first hotel to install the original telephone system, sometimes accommodating 2,700 calls per hour. Palmer House is the first fireproof hotel, birthplace of the original chocolate fudge brownie, the first to employ the vertical steam lift, which would later become the elevator, the first hotel to use the lightbulb, and home to the first-ever Polaroids from the 1893 World’s Fair. We take pride in preserving our hotel’s history and are honored to share our story on the hotel’s150th year anniversary.”

In the past two months, Palmer House has unveiled a brand-new indoor swimming pool following a $2.2 Million renovation and introduced Lockwood Express, a grab and go concept that includes daily baked pastries, Lavazza coffee, a selection of warm artesian meals, and even small batch cocktails for travelers on-the-go. For the anniversary celebration, the hotel will introduce the Bertha Brownie Latte, a playful spin on the original fudge brownie.


The story of Chicago’s Palmer House began as an extravagant wedding gift from Potter Palmer to his new wife, Bertha Honoré Palmer. Only 13 days after its grand opening, The Palmer House sadly fell victim to the Great Chicago Fire, but was rebuilt on November 8, 1873, marking the opening of what would become one of the nation’s most iconic and famed hotels.

By the turn of the century, Palmer House had become Chicago’s liveliest social center, hosting a long list of prominent figures— ranging from U.S. presidents to Charles Dickens to Oscar Wilde. In 1933, the Empire Dining Room hosted legendary entertainers, including Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, Ella Fitzgerald, Harry Belafonte, Louis Armstrong, and Liberace.


To celebrate this milestone, Palmer House has special programming and packages throughout the year, including:

September 23 – 27

  • Complimentary Brownie
    for anyone visiting Palmer House on September 23
  • $1.50 Palmer House Brownies (September 24 – September 26) available at Lockwood Express, which pairs perfectly with the new Bertha Brownie Latte.
  • A historic archival animated art-installation will be displayed on the hotel’s lobby marble columns and Empire Room façade via digital mapping, for a captivating, 360-degree immersed experience beginning September 23rd at 9am through September 25th at 4pm and resuming on September 26th at 9am running through September 27th at 9am.


  • Fudge It – It’s Friday at Five: Every first Friday of the month, Lockwood Lobby Bar will host a 150-minute Brownie Happy Hour, offering each guest who purchases a cocktail or beverage, a complimentary brownie.
  • If These Walls Could Talk Self-Guided Engage & Explore Tou
    r, and discover lesser-known facts and fun that make for Instagram-able moments. Complete the challenge, share photos from the tour with the front desk for a chance to win the gift of the month.
  • Sesquicentennial Magic Parlour Package including tickets for two adults, overnight accommodations and two 1871 cocktails.
  • Sesquicentennial Splash Package which is perfect for families, thanks to a room close to the new $2.2M renovated swimming pool and a food and beverage credit to Lockwood Express.
  • Curated Spa Menu Celebrating Palmer House & The Palmers with unique treatments like the Red Lacquer Manicure and Honoré Hydro-tub Therapy.
  • Sesquicentennial Wedding Package with the special couple dining on Bertha Palmer’s china, valued at $30,000 per place setting, used at the “Greatest Banquet in American History” honoring Ulysses S. Grant.

Accommodation rates at Palmer House start at $189 per night. For reservations or more information on the hotel’s 150th anniversary, please visit or call (312) 726-7500.

About Palmer House, A Hilton Hotel

Located in the heart of Downtown Chicago, Palmer House, A Hilton Hotel is within walking distance to Chicago’s famed cultural, business and shopping destinations such as the shops along State Street, the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Joffrey Ballet. With 1,641 rooms, the hotel offers several dining options, including the seasonally inspired cuisine at award-winning Lockwood Restaurant and Lockwood Express, a grab and go concept providing guests with warm artesian meals, Lavazza and small batch cocktails. The property also features an 8,000 square-foot treatment facility known as The Spa at Palmer House, full fitness center, indoor pool and The Magic Parlour.

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Founded in 1919 as the flagship brand of Hilton Worldwide, Hilton Hotels & Resorts continues to build upon its legacy of innovation by developing products and services to meet the needs of savvy global travelers at more than 550 hotels across six continents.
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About Hilton

Hilton (NYSE: HLT) is a leading global hospitality company with a portfolio of 18 world-class brands comprising more than 6,600 properties and more than 1 million rooms, in 119 countries and territories. Dedicated to fulfilling its founding vision to fill the earth with the light and warmth of hospitality, Hilton has welcomed more than 3 billion guests in its more than 100-year history, earned a top spot on the 2020 World"s Best Workplaces list, and was named the 2020 Global Industry Leader on the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices. In 2020, Hilton CleanStay was introduced, bringing an industry-defining standard of cleanliness to hotels worldwide. Through the award-winning guest loyalty program Hilton Honors, the more than 118 million members who book directly with Hilton can earn Points for hotel stays and experiences money can"t buy. With the free Hilton Honors app, guests can book their stay, select their room, check in, unlock their door with a Digital Key and check out, all from their smartphone. Visit for more information, and connect with Hilton on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and YouTube.

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