Wacker was born in 1856 to a German immigrant who owned a brewing and malting company. Although he worked as a real estate investor and bank director, Wacker eventually took over his father’s business. In civic affairs, Wacker was director of the Ways and Means Committee for the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893. In 1909, Mayor Fred Busse appointed Wacker to the Chicago Plan Commission, a committee designed to convince residents to issue bonds and spend money on widening streets, improving sidewalks, and redeveloping parts of the city. During his tenure on the Commission, Wacker urged voters to approve the forest preserves referenda. Later, he served on the Forest Preserve Plan Committee. Chicago leaders rewarded Wacker by renaming a double-decker roadway after him. First proposed in the Burnham Plan and completed in the 1920s, Wacker Drive runs along the Chicago River in the Loop.