“Hey, look! It’s the Wrigley Building. I just bought it. Well, me and a bunch of other investors.” I was in my booth at one of the art festivals in Chicago when I heard these words. I looked up and saw a young guy, flip flops, polo shirt and the “salmon color” shirts. Hmm, that’s how millionaires dress up these days, I thought to myself. We got into talking and yes, indeed, he bought the building in my picture. He did not buy the picture though.

The Wrigley Building, Wrigley Field, the home of Chicago Cubs, Wrigley Company, Wrigley chewing gum: what do all these names have in common? One man: William Wrigley Jr. A mortal man who became an eponym.

In 1891 he arrived in Chicago with $32 to his name. He started selling soap, then baking soda, then chewing gum and ended up building a $34 million (about $1 billion in today’s money) business empire. He was in the empire business.

When in 1920 William Wrigley Jr. decided to build corporate headquarters for his company there were no office buildings north of Chicago River. In fact the Chicago River Bridge (now it’s DuSable Bridge) wasn’t even finished, people had to take ferry boats to cross the river. A year later, in 1921 the south tower clad in glazed terra-cotta was complete. It was inspired by the shape of the Giralda tower of Cathedral in Seville. It still proudly stands to this day.

London has Big Ben, New York has the Empire State Building, and Chicago has the Wrigley Building. Wrigley is a symbol of Chicago. Thank you, Mr. William Wrigley Jr, immortal man, the eponym.