Credit: Andrea Bauer

Fine Arts Building

410 S. Michigan

There are no buttons outside the elevators in the Fine Arts Building—you have to wait in view of the glass doors, because if the operators don’t see you as they go by, they’re not likely to stop. Once in a while an elevator will shoot past a floor before the operator notices the people standing there, at which point he cranks the wheel back around and retreats to pick them up. The three elevators are original to the building, which opened in 1885 as a factory and showroom for Studebaker carriages and was remodeled in 1898 to house artists’ studios and galleries. In the lobby is a plaque for Tommy Durkin, who was an elevator operator there for 55 years until he retired in 2010. “Operators never wanted to leave,” says a building maintenance man. The two on duty the day I visited had been working there for 18 and 25 years, respectively. They’re likely to catch on quickly if your intent is to go joyriding in their elevators—but they probably won’t care. —Julia Thiel