Thursday, September 19, 2019

September 19, 1961 -- Equitable Looks to Chicago

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September 19, 1961 – The Vice-President of the Equitable Life Assurance Society of the United States, Laurence Reiner, confirms that the company has asked the New York State insurance department for its approval of a plan to build “a large, modern building in Chicago on the tract just south of the Tribune Tower.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, September 20, 1961]. Reiner says, “We have discussed the purchase with the Chicago Tribune Building Corporation.  We hope sometime soon to come in and make a fine neighbor for the Chicago Tribune.”  According to Reiner the company has outgrown its location at 29 South La Salle Street.  “We have always had a great interest in Chicago.  We hope now to be able to do something nice for the city,” he says.


September 19, 2006 – Mario Wallenda, a 65-year-old paralyzed high wire artist, crosses the Chicago River 100 feet in the air near the Merchandise Mart.  “I’m doing this because I need the money, and I’m tired of sitting around the house. I tried lapidary, woodcarving, even needlepoint,” Wallenda says. [Chicago Tribune, September 20, 2006]  The performer was paralyzed in 1962 when a seven-person high-wire pyramid collapsed, and two Wallenda family members were killed.  Wallenda is paid between $50,000 and $100,000 for the stunt, according to the event sponsor, WLUP-FM.  At 9:09 a.m. a crane drops Wallenda and his specially-designed electric bicycle above the river.  Two minutes later he is on the other side of the river.  He pauses for a few moments, and by 9:14 he re-crosses the river where the crane waits to lift him back to ground level.  “Things are tough,” Wallenda says. “I have enough money to live comfortably for the rest of my life, as long as I don’t live past next week.”



September 19, 1927:  Wreckers begin tearing down a four-story building at Randolph and LaSalle Streets as bands play and city chieftains make speeches, and the long-awaited widening of LaSalle Street from Washington Boulevard to Ohio Street begins.  The project, which has its beginnings in the Chicago Plan of 1909, is expected to cost $7,455,000, an expenditure that will provide another through street to the near north side and relieve congestion on Michigan Avenue. The president of the Board of Local Improvement, Michael J. Flaherty, wields a pickax and chips away briefly at an old building south of the river on LaSalle even as one tenant, the Hub Raincoat Company, refuses to vacate the structure, saying that the firm has a right to remain until September 23.  The $3,500,000 bridge across the river at LaSalle Street is projected to be completed sometime in late 1928.  The widening of LaSalle Street had the city acquiring 20 feet from each property facing the street, which resulted in the complete loss of many buildings and significant alterations to buildings such as the Reid-Murdoch building on the north side of the river, which lost one whole tier on its west side to make way for the expanded roadway.  A picture of the building before and after the truncation can be seen above.


September 19, 1911 – A wild night on the river as a newly-hired wheelman on the Manistee locks himself in the pilot house and “with whistles tooting and engine bell chiming . . . steamed his Dreadnought up and down the river, charging every craft in sight.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, September 20, 1911]  The seaman, Martin Daley, is hired that day and almost immediately “took on a cargo of rum.”  He locks himself in the pilot house, signals the engine room for “full speed ahead,” and gets someone to cast off from the wharf at Michigan Avenue.  He brings the Manistee so close to the Rush Street Bridge that “most of the fresh coat of paint on her side adhered to the bridge.”  Steaming back toward the lake, Daley then “directed his energies toward running down smaller craft – launches, ‘party boats,’ and dingies [sic]”  as members of the crew break the windows of the pilot house in order to stop the rampage.  Finally, a Chicago policeman manages to clamber aboard at the life saving station at the river’s mouth and arrests the drunken sailor.  Daley tells the officer that he is going back to the Atlantic Ocean “because they can’t take a joke on the lakes.”  The above photo, taken in 1905, looks east from the Rush Street Bridge to just about the location where the Manistee was berthed.  The Kirk Soap Works stands where 401 North Michigan and the new Apple Store, currently under construction, can be found today.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

September 18, 1982 -- Chicago Tribune Presses Roll for Last Time on Michigan Avenue

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September 18, 1982 – The Chicago Tribune prints its last letterpress newspaper at its plant off Michigan Avenue.  After more than 60 years of newspaper production just to the west of Tribune Tower, the newspaper will be printed and distributed from Freedom Center, the new printing facility between Ohio Street and Chicago Avenue on the North Branch of the Chicago River.  In the new 700,000-square-foot facility ten Goss Metroliner presses will “utilize a Muirhead Ltd. Laser film system in conjunction with Western platemaking equipment to insure quality plates for the offset presses.”  [Chicago Tribune, September 18, 1982]  Today it appears that the future of the state-of-the-art printing facility on the North Branch of the Chicago River is also looking at the end of its life as Tribune Real Estate Holdings is looking to transform the area on the west shore of the river from Ohio Street to Chicago Avenue into the River District, where office towers for a projected 19,500 workers will rise in the coming years.  The top photo shows the area as it appears today.  The second photo is a rendering of what may be found there within the next decade ... if all the pieces fall into place.


September 18, 1934 –Mayor Edward Kelly is on hand to dedicate the $2,500,000 Steinmetz High School.  In his address he calls upon the state legislature to find a way to increase funding for the school system in the upcoming year.  “The need of more school revenue has been repeatedly demonstrated,” he says.  “At present real estate carries too much of the load, and it is impossible to suppose that additional burdens can be placed on such property. The schools need added revenues and the legislature should provide a plan to secure them.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, September 19, 1934]  Thousands of parents watch 2,800 Steinmetz students pass a reviewing stand to enter the building as the school opens.  The new school is one of five new schools commissioned by the Board of Education that will open in 1934.  Lane Technical High School opens on this day as well.  An addition to Senn High School will open in the next week, and two other schools, Wells and Phillips will be completed by December 15. The school is named for German-American mathematician and electrical engineer Charles Proteus Steinmetz.


September 18, 1924 – The president of the Illinois Society of Architects, Charles E. Fox, proposes in the monthly bulletin of the society “a half-mile long, permanent stone bridge, 160 feet high, over the mouth of the Chicago river”.  [Chicago Daily Tribune, September 19, 1924] The massive bridge would take the place of a lift bridge or tunnel, plans that are under consideration as ways to connect Grant Park and the south side of the city with the north side of the river and Lake Shore Drive.  Says Fox, “It’s a reasonably safe bet that if the proposed tunnel is ever constructed, it’ll stand for a generation or two as a monument to bad judgment and then’ll be filled up … The war department already has shown its hand by refusing to have a lift bridge east of Michigan avenue … On the north a design of approach could be incorporated into the architectural treatment of the Municipal pier.  The bridge itself would be the monumental hub of the city.  A view from the crown of the arch would give to the passing stranger, as well as to the citizen of Chicago a magnificent birdseye view of Grant park and the lake shore both north and south.”  Imagine today what a difference it would make to have a massive stone bridge straight out of New York City plunked down at the entrance to the river … things would look a lot different. 


September 18, 1925 – Alonzo C. Mather pays $500,000 or $7,692 a square foot for 65 feet of frontage on Wacker Drive, adding this property, owned by the Chicago Title & Trust Company, to Michigan Avenue property he already owns east of the Wacker Drive lot.  Born in Fairfield, New York in 1848, Mather came to Chicago in 1875, where he started a wholesale business.  At some point he found a way to wealth – by developing a new kind of railroad stock car that reduced the loss of livestock while in transit through the provision of feed and water.  The Herbert Hugh Riddle design for Mather Tower at 75 East Wacker Drive provided the headquarters for the Mather Stock Car Company when it opened in 1929.  The existing piece of property that Mather owned on Michigan Avenue was meant for another similar tower that would be connected its partner on Wacker Drive by a ground floor arcade.  The economic catastrophe of the Great Depression ended the plan for the second tower.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

September 17, 1962 -- Loyola University Opens New Downtown University Center

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September 17, 1962 – The $2.75 million Loyola University Center at the southwest corner of Rush and Pearson Streets opens to students.  Loyola’s president, the Very Reverend James F. Maquire, says, “The center enables the university to accommodate meetings and gatherings of alumni and friends, to provide facilities for public lectures, luncheons, and conferences, and to serve other functions and activities for business and community groups.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, September 16, 1962]  The new building will include two cafeterias, 18 classrooms, a bookstore, conference rooms, student lounges, and a formal meeting room for administrative meetings.  A two-story enclosed walkway will connect the University Center to Lewis Towers, the main classroom building, which sits to the east just off Michigan Avenue.  As part of the dedication ceremony, at which His Eminence the Archbishop of Chicago Albert Cardinal Meyer officiates, a mural by Park Ridge artist Melville Steinfels is dedicated.  It depicts 400 years of Jesuit education.  The student center is the next step in a move downtown that began in 1946 with a gift of Mr. and Mrs. Frank J. Lewis – an 18-story skyscraper located at 820 North Michigan Avenue, located just to the west of the city’s historic Water Tower. The site is considerably different today as Loyola’s eight-story School of Communication wraps around the north and west sides of The Clare, a senior independent living high-rise, at 55 East Pearson.  A new student center is located just to the west on the northwest corner of Pearson and Wabash Streets.  The photo shows Lewis Center as it appeared in the 1950's, shortly after its purchase.  The second photo shows the area as it appears today.


September 17, 1922 –The new $1,600,000 Madison Street bridge is lowered into position for the first time at 2:00 p.m., leaving the Clark Street bridge as the only center-pier bridge left in the central area of the city.  It will be three weeks before pedestrians will be allowed across the new bridge, and it will be at least six weeks before traffic crosses the new span.  The bridge’s sidewalks will be 13.5 feet, eight feet wider than the sidewalks on the old center pier bridge that is being replaced.  Work on the new bridge began on December 1, 1919, but there is a long delay in the fabrication of the steel for the span.  It isn’t until late September of 1921 before work resumes.  In March of 1922 the bridge’s bond issue expired, and work was once again is ordered to a halt.  In June Chicago voters approve a new bond issue, and work resumes on August 1.  According to historicbridges.org “This bridge stands out among the bridges of Chicago as one of the most historically and technologically significant since it is the first example of a design that Chicago would use in construction on many bridges during a period of over 40 years.  It also retains ornate sidewalk railings that greatly contribute to the visual beauty of the bridge.” The above photo shows the bridge under construction in 1922.  In the right foreground is the swing bridge which it will replace.



September 17, 1954 – The first new office building to be constructed in the Loop since 1933, the ten-story Sinclair Oil Corporation’s office building on the northeast corner of Wacker Drive and Randolph Street, is officially opened as more than 200 business leaders and officials from the state and city attend the ceremonies.  The new building contains 225,000 square feet of office space and 14,000 square feet of basement parking space.  The structure will consolidate various divisions of the corporation that were previously scattered in four separate locations.  The building is gone today, replaced by the Goettsch Partners tower, finished in 2010, at 155 North Wacker Drive.  The Sinclair building is outlined in the older photograph.  The award-winning Goettsch replacement is shown to the left.


September 17, 1969 – The City Council, by a vote of 30 to 6, approves two ordinances that clear the way for the office and residential development that Chicago now calls Illinois Center.  One ordinance establishes guidelines for the development of the area, and the other codifies the relationship between the city, the owner of the property, Illinois Central Industries, and three developers.  The plan calls for buildings of up to 90 stories with 45,000 workers, 17,500 apartments with 35,000 residents.   In an editorial the Chicago Tribune writes glowingly about the project, asserting, “Chicagoans must feel some exhilaration to see, at long last, this strategic area built on in a manner suitable to its location in the center of the city.  And Chicagoans should take an eager, continuing, and responsible interest as Illinois Center plaza gradually develops . . . A brilliantly successful development here will be a civic asset the importance of which it would be almost impossible to exaggerate.” [Chicago Tribune, September 19, 1969]  The photo at the left shows the approximate area where the Hyatt Regency Hotel stands today.

Monday, September 16, 2019

September 16, 1949 -- Haymarket Theater is a Goner


chicagology.com
September 16, 1949 – The Haymarket Theater at 722 Madison Street, near Halsted Street, is condemned to make way for a connection between the new Congress Street Expressway and the Edens Expressway with the city paying $215,075 to the building’s owners.  The Haymarket opened in 1887 as a playhouse with seating for 2,475 on an orchestra floor and three balconies.  After a time the playhouse became a vaudeville theater, and by 1916 it was one of the city’s best-known burlesque houses.  After 1932 it became a second-run movie house with its seating by 1945 reduced to less than 1,000.  In the spring of 1950 the theater was demolished to make way for the highway.  [cinematreasures.org]


September 16, 1909 – The World Series Champion Chicago Cubs fall to the New York Giants in the West Side Park, 2-1, but that is not the real story of the day.  The game takes place with a special visitor in the stands, the President of the United States, William Howard Taft.  The Chicago Daily Tribune attests to the level of interest with which the Chief Executive views the game, reporting, “A leading constituent might be confiding an important party secret to the presidential left ear while another citizen, whose name appears often in headlines, might be offering congratulations on the outcome of the battle for revision downward to the right auricle, but while both ears were absorbing messages from friends both presidential eyes were steadily watching Christy Mathewson and the Giants revise downward the standing of the Cubs.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, September 17, 1909] Fans begin lining up before noon for the late afternoon game, and when the President appears exactly on time, he is escorted to the field where he shakes the hand of each Cub’s player, moving on “to mingle with the rooters … while the Giants were completing their preliminary practice.” Cubs manager Frank Chance starts his “three-fingered ace,” Mordecai Brown against the Giants’ Christy Matthewson … two future Hall-of-Famers.  Before the Giants are retired in the first inning, the team has scored all the runs that it needs to take the contest. 


September 16, 1915 – A dozen years after the Iroquois Theatre fire that claimed 602 lives on Randolph Street, disaster is narrowly averted as 200 patrons at the Alcazar Theater on West Madison Street are watching the conclusion of The Red Virgin at 10:30 p.m.  A small explosion is heard in the projectionist’s booth, and quickly the theater fills with acrid smoke.  The night manager, “possessor of a stern voice,” [Chicago Daily Tribune, September 15, 1915] appears and shouts, “Don’t crowd! There are plenty of exits.  See the red lights in front of you.  There’s plenty of time.  Don’t hurry!  Don’t push!” Ushers keep the crowd moving toward the exits in an orderly fashion, and not a single member of the audience is injured. Miss Mattie Lamb plays the theater piano until the auditorium is empty despite being nearly overcome by smoke.  The only casualty is the projectionist who receives burns on one hand when the film he is showing explodes, beginning the procession toward the exits.


September 16, 1925 – The South Park Commission inks a contract to cover the construction of the $2,000,000 John G. Shedd Aquarium.  It will be built in Grant Park about one-tenth of a mile east of the Field Museum.  Shedd began his career as a stock clerk for Marshall Field and worked his way up the corporate ladder, taking over as president of the firm when Field died in 1906.  The aquarium was his gift to the city, one designed to complement the great museum to the west named after his former boss.  Shedd did not live long enough to see the completion of the aquarium in 1930; he died just over a year after the South Park commission made its 1925 announcement.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

September 15, 1961 -- Marina City Construction Accident Claims Three


September 15, 1961 – Three carpenters fall 43 stories to their deaths as a scaffold on which they are being lifted separates from the hoisting hook inside the core of the east tower of Marina City, under construction north of the river on State Street.  Mike Einsele, a worker inside the core, says, ‘We were raising forms inside the core and I was about five feet above them.  They were standing on the scaffolding, and I guess a cable slipped.  I heard a loud noise and I turned around to look.  The bodies bounced crazily, hitting one obstruction after another, until they hit the bottom.  I heard the thuds when they hit and I got sick.  I got out of there then.”  [Chicago Tribune, September 16, 1961]  Another worker, Will Bridges, who was working ten stories below the scaffold and who had just stepped out of the way to get a drink of water, says “Everyone inside the core heard them fall.”  Speculation about the cause suggests that the heavy forms on the scaffold that were being hoisted for the next phase of concrete work jammed against the wall of the core and twisted the hoisting hook enough so that the scaffold fell away.


September 15, 1966 – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. reveals a plan to target downtown stores in Chicago in an effort to create jobs for African Americans in the city.  Speaking to a rally of 500 in the Greater Mount Hope Baptist Church at 6034 Princeton Avenue, Dr. King says, “I’m going to march straight up Michigan avenue and straight up State street and organize every store in the city.”  [Chicago Tribune, September 16, 1966] The next day, he reveals, pickets will demonstrate in front of the Saks Fifth Avenue store on Michigan Avenue.  In his address Dr. King also criticizes Senator Everett Dirksen for his opposition to the civil rights bill.


September 15, 1976 – Democratic Vice-Presidential candidate Walter Mondale, speaking to reporters at Midway Airport, says that President Gerald Ford’s record “belies and puts a falsehood to everything he says he’s now for.” [Chicago Tribune, September 16, 1976] Using notes that he had jotted down during his flight to Chicago, Mondale attacks Ford on four fronts.  In the area of health care, Mondale says that the President has made no proposal for a health-care program affordable for most Americans.  In education he asserts that the federal oversight of education under Ford “is the worst in 40 years.” Mondale finds that “The record is absolutely miserable,” showing that 2.5 million Americans have lost their jobs since Ford took office. He also finds that the Ford administration is responsible for high interest rates that make affordable housing difficult to find.  “Their record couldn’t be worse on all of their objectives,” the Democratic candidate states.  “I think it’s clear that on the issues he has raised, he has a miserable performance record. And if trust must be earned, he doesn’t deserve the trust of the American people.” The election went down to the wire, but the Carter-Mondale ticket pulled out a narrow victory.  If 3,687 votes  in Hawaii and 5,559 votes in Ohio had been switched from Carter to Ford, the incumbent would have been victorious.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

September 14, 1908 -- Chicago Public Library Gets Trolley Tracks


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September 14, 1908 – Work begins on the laying of trolley track in Garland Court on the west side of the Chicago Public Library. Elaborate preparations have been made for the project, which will ultimately allow the removal of the tracks of the City Railway on Michigan Avenue and on Madison Street..  The City Railway has agreed to pay the expenses for changes in the public library building that are required because of the railway that will pass adjacent to it.  These alterations to the building will be completed according to plans prepared by Shepley, Rutan and Coolidge, the original architects of the structure. The above streetcar on Randolph is making the turn onto Garland Court on the west side of the Chicago Public Library, today's cultural center.  The top photo shows the tracks turning south off Randolph Street and ducking down Garland Court.  The second photo shows Randolph Street as it appears today.


September 14, 1939 – The Chicago Housing Authority is notified that its application for $7,719,000 of Public Works administration funding for the construction of a public housing complex has been approved.  This will be the fifth federal housing project in the city, following the Jane Addams houses, Julia Lathrop homes, Trumbull Park apartments, and the Ida B. Wells project that is under construction at Vincennes Avenue and Pershing Road.  Although the location is not disclosed so as to forestall real estate speculation, it is most likely that the new project will be near the Jane Addams homes and will comprise the Robert Brooks Homes with 835 row houses.  Elizabeth Wood, executive secretary of the Chicago Housing authority, says, “We will definitely be in competition with the lowest slum area houses.  We particularly want to afford accommodations for those families who now live in $15 a month flats.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, September 15, 1939]  


September 14, 1934 – United States marshals seize the excursion boat Florida at its dock east of Michigan Avenue, pending a court hearing and settlement of the claims of 21 crew members for $2,000 in back pay. The Florida has a fascinating history, as it turns out.  As far as I have been able to determine the boat is still taking up space at the bottom of the river just east of Goose Island, opposite the north end of 600 West Chicago, the old Montgomery Ward's warehouse building.  What eventually became the S. S. Florida was originally the City of Mackinac, built in 1882 as a side-wheeled cruise boat on Lake Michigan.  The latter part of its service was spent providing lakefront excursions to the 1933 Century of Progress.  In the mid-1930's it was sold to a scrapper at which time its upper decks were removed, its engines stripped, part of a conversion into a barge.  The Columbia Yacht Club bought the vessel in 1937 to serve as its club house.  On Friday, May 13, 1955 a galley fire caused the ship to sink at its dock.  Members raised the funds and raised the ship, which was used until 1982 when the club acquired the former Canadian ferry, the Abegweit, as its new base of operations.  A trucking magnate, Joe Salon, bought the ship in 1985, renaming it the Showboat Sari-S II, using his daughter's name in its new appellation, and moved it to the river a few blocks north of Ontario Street, before selling it.  The Showboat Sari-S II might be confused with another paddle-wheel steamboat that Salon ran as a restaurant, beginning in 1962.  They are two different vessels.  The last reference to the boat that I can find is in the "Metropolitan" section of the Chicago Tribune on August 28, 1992.  This brief item reports, "The U. S. Army Corps of Engineers has ordered the owner of a 215-foot boat that sank last month in a little-used part of the North Branch of the Chicago River to remove the vessel or face legal action . . . The owner of the vessel was ordered to install markers around the boat until it is removed.  The vessel sank in 16 feet of water on the east side of Goose Island just north of Chicago Avenue, said Lt. Col. David Reed, commander of the Corps District . . . Only the cabin portion is now above water, and the sunken craft obstructs about half of the navigational channel, Reed said."  Kind of a sad story of a once proud vessel that was very much a part of the city's history. The photo above shows the boat when she was the clubhouse for the Columbia Yacht Club.  


Friday, September 13, 2019

September 13, 1963 -- American Dental Association Announces New Headquarters


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September 13, 1963 – It is announced that the American Dental Association is completing plans for a 22-story office building on Chicago Avenue just east of Michigan Avenue.  The architectural firm of Graham, Anderson, Probst and White will design the office building which will have 280,000 square feet of space and cost $5 million.  The association has 100,000 members and plans to use only part of the building, leasing the remainder.  The site, which has a frontage of 200 feet on Chicago Avenue and a depth of 135 feet contains two buildings which will be razed, along with a surface parking lot.  It was purchased from the American National Red Cross for $700,000.  The building still is holding its own at 211 East Chicago, right next door to the Lurie Children’s Hospital.


September 13, 1940 – Wendell L. Wilkie, the Republican candidate for President, tours nearly 50 miles through the city and its industrial areas, giving four speeches to Chicago workers.  The candidate says that “he had never been so thrilled in his life as when he stood before thousands of workers and urged them to forsake the New Deal and come into his crusade for a productive, united and strong America, one with real jobs instead of promises.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, September 14, 1940] Citizens line the curbs of many of the streets through which Wilkie’s motorcade passes, and La Salle Street is “thick with confetti and streamers.” The largest gatherings of the long day are at the Western Electric plant in Cicero and at a baseball park at Thirty-Ninth Street and Wentworth Avenue where 15,000 people crowd together to see him. The loudest applause comes when Wilkie promises “never to send American boys to fight in the trenches of Europe.” On his way back from his address in Cicero, Wilkie stops for a sandwich at a lunch counter at 4714 Cermak Road. At the end of the busy day he retires to the Stevens Hotel where he confers with political leaders.


September 13, 1908 – The Chicago Daily Tribune announces the intention of the Peoples Gaslight and Coke Company to build the “highest building of its kind” [Chicago Daily Tribune, September 13, 1908] at the corner of Michigan Avenue and Adams Street.  Fronting 196 feet on Michigan Avenue and 171 feet on Adams Street, the structure’s cost is anticipated to surpass $3 million with 1,500 offices located within the D. H. Burnham and Co. design.  The outer walls of the first three stories will be of granite.  Above that the walls will be of terra cotta “without the glossy effect, as in the Railway Exchange building.”  The new tower will be constructed in two sections, with the north section of the 20-story building finished first, followed by the section at the corner of Adams Street and Michigan Avenue.  The second half of the building is seen nearing completion in the above photo. 


September 13, 1977 – The Commission on Chicago Historical and Architectural Landmarks sends a proposal to the Chicago Planning Commissioner, Lewis W. Hill, recommending that the South Shore Country Club be designated a landmark.  This is the best hope for saving the club, designed by Benjamin Marshall and Charles Fox and opened in 1905.  The club has been threatened since the Chicago Park District bought the property in late 1974 for $9,775,000 with plans to tear down the old clubhouse and replace it with a new cultural center.   At the same meeting the commission sets dates for similar hearings to determine whether or not landmark status will be recommended for the Old Colony Building, the Fisher Building, and the Manhattan Building, three buildings that stand next to each other on the east side of Dearborn Street.