The story of downtown Chicago’s Palmer House Hilton is one of romance and undeniable charm. Potter Palmer was a Chicago business magnate—well-known for a variety of endeavors, including his significant role in the development of downtown Chicago’s iconic State Street. Bertha Honore, 23 years Potter’s junior, was a wealthy socialite who also had a drive to learn and succeed. An introduction by Potter’s former business partner, Marshall Field, sparked a romance—and eventual engagement—between Potter and Bertha that led to perhaps one of the most extravagant wedding gifts of all time – Palmer House. It was a grand Chicago Hotel—one destined to take its place among the most luxurious hotels in Chicago and beyond. However, only 13 days after its grand opening, the Palmer House fell victim to the Great Chicago Fire. But that didn’t deter Potter. Determined to rebuild his hotel, Potter secured a $1.7 million loan–negotiated on his signature alone. On November 8, 1873, the new Palmer House welcomed its first guests, marking the opening of what would become the nation’s longest continually operating hotel.
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