Doorperson of the month: Harry Harris at Lake Point Tower
(Published Aug. 31, 2019)
By Jesse Wright
Harry Harris has spent most of his life serving the federal government.
First, he served in the Marine Corps. He spent nine years in the service, and he enjoyed his time.
“I loved serving the country,” Harris said. “It was a different experience and I like to try new things. It had its hectic moments in there, but it was worth it. You get a different outlook.”
His work took him to Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, to Hawaii and even to Cuba, to Guantanamo.
“I was there about six months,” he said of his time in Cuba. “It’s different now. You only could be on the base at that time, but it was beautiful. Well, what we could see. We couldn’t see outside the base.”
After that, Harris worked for decades walking the streets of Chicago delivering letters for the postal service. Harris said he likes to stay busy, so as he pounded the pavement during the day, he managed to squeeze in extra hours as a doorman at Lake Shore Tower, until he had to change shifts at the post office. After 25 years as a letter carrier, he retired.
“Management told me one of the doormen was retiring, and did I want to come back,” Harris recalled. “And I wanted to come back.”
That was in 2011, and he hasn’t looked back. Harris said he loves Lake Point Tower for the reasons many doorpeople love their buildings—the residents are great and he’s made friends at the job—but he added that the building itself is an attraction.
This year the building is 51 years old, and Harris said it still attracts tourists and visitors, people curious to see one of the more significant residential properties downtown. Architects John Heinrich and George Schipporeit designed Lake Point Tower. Both were proteges of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, and the curving, Y-shaped design continues to attract students and fans of architecture—most of whom get turned away except during the Chicago Architecture Center’s annual open house in October.
“This is one of the buildings that people always want to get in to,” Harris said. “Every day, we have people come in off the street and say, ‘can we go upstairs?’ and we say, ‘no sorry. It’s a private building.’”
When workers completed the building in 1968, it was the tallest residential tower in the world and while that distinction no longer stands, it does remain the only major residential structure on the lakefront side of Lake Shore Drive. Given the city’s prohibition on future development, the building will likely maintain that distinction.
All of these things make the building popular among residents and wannabe residents.
“What building do you know has a three-acre park on the third floor?” Harris asked. “It’s got a park, an outdoor pool an outdoor pond and BBQ area a waterfall, it’s a whole park. You have restaurants here with a beautiful view. You don’t gotta leave unless you want to.”
And few do. Harris said the building has about 875 units and they’re generally all full or if they’re not, they’re in the process of being bought. Units don’t stay empty too long.
“I love the people here,” he said. “It’s like a family. They make me feel like I’m part of the family you got all these different families but they make you feel like you’re part of their family. It’s a beautiful atmosphere. I’ve been offered other jobs but I say no, I’m not going to leave Lake Point.”
To nominate your favorite doorperson, email firstname.lastname@example.org with the door person’s name and why you think they should be the doorperson of the month. Each winner will receive a $25 gift card to Mariano’s.