NORTHWESTERN MUTUAL & THE CUDAHY TOWER APARTMENTS
The Mutual Life Insurance Company of the State of Wisconsin was founded in Janesville in 1857 by New Yorker John C. Johnston. Looking for better market conditions, Johnston moved the company to the quickly growing city of Milwaukee in 1859.
Johnston changed the name to the Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company in 1865 as the company had grown into a regional life insurance firm. By 1870, Northwestern Mutual was the 8th largest insurance company in the US, and the 6th largest by 1907. Northwestern Mutual expanded its national reach by specializing in farm mortgages around the Midwest, and eventually into industrial farms in the South and Southwest after World War II. They also expanded their investments into other development projects, including Milwaukee’s former Grand Avenue Mall and various mixed-use buildings in downtown Milwaukee, among many other projects across the United States.
There are two Northwestern Mutual buildings in the viewer photo, the East Tower on the left and the North Tower to the right of it. The East Tower was constructed in 1976, while the North Tower was built in 1990. The East Tower was demolished to make way for a new skyscraper, The Northwestern Mutual Tower, which opened in 2017.
The other building to the right of the Northwestern Mutual buildings in the photo, is the Cudahy Tower Apartments, which still exists today, but is now dwarfed by the new skyscraper. The original apartments were completed by meat packer and philanthropist, Patrick Cudahy, in 1909. The art deco tower was added on in 1929 by Cudahy’s sons. A notable guest of the Cudahy Tower was First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt in 1936.