Monday, April 23, 2018

April 23, 1992 -- Lake County Forest Preserve District Riled Up over Ft. Sheridan

April 23, 1992 – The Lake County Forest Preserve commissioners vote to protest a decision by the Department of Defense regarding the fate of Ft. Sheridan.  Playing both offense and defense, the commissioners vote to write a strongly worded letter to the Pentagon while stating that they still want to get their hands on 250 acres of the base that are comprised of a golf course, ravines and Lake Michigan shoreline.  This follows an earlier announcement that half of the 250 acres would go toward a veteran’s cemetery with the remainder put up for bid by local governments.  Andrea Moore, the president of the district, says, “I don’t think the Department of Defense ever intended that there be much local use of the land.  They have cut the natural resources in half.  How do you manage half a ravine?”  [Chicago Tribune, April 24, 1992] Commissioner Robert Buhai of Highland Park says that while the communities involved in the Ft. Sheridan commission had worked hard to preserve much of the land for public use, Lake Forest had actively lobbied veterans’ groups for the national cemetery.  He says, “The clout that Lake Forest had has superseded everything else.” All of the controversy comes as the clock ticks steadily closer to the closing of the base on May 31, 1993.  The district did not get its golf course.  Instead it received much of the are covered by the former golf course, a military air strip, rifle range, and Nike missile site.  The restored prairie area contains roughly 4.5 miles of trails for hiking, 3.7 miles for cross-country skiing and 1.3 miles for bicycling.  The area is currently closed for an extensive renovation project, but it is expect to reopen in the summer of 2018.

Alta Vista Terrace
April 23, 1970 – The Chicago Tribune reports that the Commission on Chicago Historical and Architectural Landmarks has voted unanimously to give landmark status to two Chicago historical sites – the Hull House mansion at 750 South Halsted Street and a block of 40 row houses on Alta Vista Terrace, not far from Wrigley Field.  The Hull House mansion was built in 1856 for Charles J. Hull, a Chicago real estate broker but by 1910 had become the center for a 13-building complex that was home to the social settlement community of Jane Addams.  The mansion and one other building are the only two structures that remained after the University of Illinois began levelling the area for the building of its Chicago campus.  The Alta Vista terrace area is only the second such district to be designated as a landmark, the first being the area surrounding the Chicago water tower on Michigan Avenue.  Hearings within the month will determine the status of the Leiter I building at 208 West Monroe Street and the Monadnock Building at 55 West Jackson Boulevard.  Leiter I would not make the cut and would be demolished in 1972.  The Monadnock, fortunately, received landmark status and was meticulously restored.

April 23, 1955 -- The Chicago Daily Tribune reports that mass injections of the Salk anti-polio vaccine for Chicago first and second graders in 65 parochial schools will begin on April 25. Herman Bundesen, the president of the Board of Health, also announces that the rest of the 16,200 boys and girls in these schools, along with students in 38 private and five Jewish schools will begin receiving vaccinations on April 26. The first shot will be given by Dr. Bundesen at Immaculate Conception School, 1415 N. Park Avenue. Reverend Monsignor Daniel Cunningham, Superintendent of Catholic schools in the city, will be present as well as Mayor Richard J. Daley. Chicago School Superintendent Benjamin C. Willis reports that shots for public school youngsters will begin on May 2 with 89 percent of parental permission slips for first and second graders already returned.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

April 22, 1963 -- United States Gypsum Moves into New Headquarters

April 22, 1963 – United States Gypsum Company employees take their places for the first time in the new 19-story building at the corner of Wacker Drive and Monroe Street after two days of moving directions in preparation.  The company will occupy 11 floors, the lobby and two lower levels with the remaining five floors set aside for rent.  The building will bring together 1,000 people who were formerly spread across four locations on Adams Street and Wells Street. U. S. G. chairman C. H. Shaver says the company felt a responsibility to design a building “compatible with our company’s needs, and an obligation to the community to be harmonious with its environment, aesthetically pleasing, and which exemplifies the highest type of contribution toward enhancing the Chicago skyline.” [Chicago Tribune, April 22, 1963] The tower was razed in the first years of the new millennium to clear the site for the 111 South Wacker Drive building, but while it stood it drew its share of controversy, mostly because the architectural firm of Perkins and Will turned the tower on a 45-degree angle to the streets on which it stood.  Lawrence Perkins, in his Oral History with the Art Institute of Chicago, said of the plan, “It derives from several things. To do it with a perfectly square plan would not have worked because the squares were inefficient.  If you’ve looked at the building, you’ll know that each corner is notched out so that we have eight corners on each floor.  That permits you to get more space nearer the lot line.  But by turning it we are protecting our light and air on all four sides.  We knew that we that had a bunch of uncompromising rectangles on the three and now four of the sides of the building.  We were protecting their light and air, we were protecting ours … “  The original U. S. G. building is shown in the photo above.  Below it is its replacement the Lohan Caprille Goettsch 111 South Wacker, completed in 2005.

April 22, 1971 – The Chicago Tribune learns that the Atcheson, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad’s passenger trains will be moved to Union Station, making it certain that the Dearborn Street station will be closed.  Signs are already posted at Dearborn station, notifying passengers that service will be discontinued on April 30.  The passenger operations of the Atcheson, Topeka and Santa Fe have been taken over by Amtrak and one of the government agency’s principal goals is to consolidate terminals in Chicago since they eat so much of the operating costs of passenger trains.  Chicago’s commuter trains will maintain their present distribution across several stations on the periphery of downtown.  Consolidation of these trains would add as much as 30 minutes to some routes, defeating the purpose of paying for a 30-minute train ride from the suburbs to the city.  The photo above shows the 1976 demolition of the train sheds that lay south of the station.

April 22, 1862 -- The Chicago Tribune reports that one Frederick Boetiger has filed a grievance with the Chicago Common Council that will be referred to the Finance Committee for a determination of damages. It seems that Boetiger had attempted to make his way into the city by way of Division Street, using "all due care and diligence in traversing the same". However, the street was in such bad condition that his horse became "stalled in the mud of the said street and smothered to death within the city limits." Boetiger sought compensation for his lost animal. The street on the far left of the photo above is the same street poor Mr. Boetiger got stuck on back in 1862.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

April 21, 1948 -- Railroad Fair Begins to Lay Tracks

April 21, 1948 – A gang of more than a hundred railroad workers begin laying racks form the Illinois Central tracks across South Lake Shore Drive at Twenty-Eighth Street and into the grounds where the Chicago Railroad Fair is set to open on July 20.  A cut is made in the southbound lanes of the drive so that tracks can be laid with the northbound lanes tackled the following day.  Asphalt resurfacing of the road “to leave the drive as good as ever.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, April 22, 1948] Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry organized the Railroad Fair “to celebrate the One Hundredth Anniversary of the Opening of the West in the United States, by holding an Exposition in Chicago, showing in Educational, Scientific and Graphic form the building and development of the Railroads of North American with a demonstration of their place and importance in the American Economy.”  [] The fair was originally supposed to run for just the summer of 1948, but it was so successful that the city brought it back for the summer of 1949.  Held on 50 acres of Burnham Park between Twentieth and Thirtieth Streets, the fair was planned in just six months and featured exhibits from 38 railroads and 20 railroad equipment manufacturers. During the two summers the fair ran, over 5.5 million people trekked to the lakefront to see the show.  The laying of the tracks across Lake Shore Drive is shown in the photo above with the Railroad Fair itself shown in the second photo.

April 21, 1901 – A huge iron tank breaks from its supports on the roof of the Galbraith Building on Madison Street and smashes through six floors to the basement.  Seven people are injured, none of them seriously, and all the glass on the Madison Street side of the building is broken.  Two crows are killed in the Slotkin Pet Store on the ground floor.  Fortunately, the accident occurs on a Sunday.  There was no warning, and if the tank had fallen on any other day of the week, casualties would have undoubtedly been far greater.  The tank had been installed a month earlier to supply water to the fire suppression system, and the water in the tank alone weighed almost six tons.  Harry Solomon, one of the fortunate souls who escaped the tank’s fall, said, “The thing was over before we could realize our peril.  A deluge of water and wreckage poured on us as we stood gazing into the great gap that had been cut through the floor not three feet from where I had stood.  I knew in an instant that it was the tank, as we had spoken of the danger of installing the great weight in the old building.  The whole building shook, and I thought there was no hope for us, but we rushed to the fire-escape to avoid going down with the floors.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, April 22, 1901] In the above plate from Rand McNally's 1893 View of Chicago the Galbraith Building is #10 at the very top of the rendering toward the right corner.

April 21, 1967 -- The third and final tornado to strike Illinois on this day begins northwest of Joliet at about 4:45 p.m. It moves east-northeast, building power and momentum as it goes. It takes six minutes for the monster funnel to carve a path of damage 16 miles long through the suburbs of Oak Lawn, Hometown, and Evergreen Park. At the intersection of Ninety-Fifth Street and Southwest Highway it throws several dozen cars stopped in traffic off the road, and sixteen people are killed at just this one location. The south end and east wall of Oak Lawn High School are destroyed at 5:26 p.m. when the school clocks stop. With winds of over 100 m.p.h., the tornado finally blows itself out over the lake off Rainbow Beach. Even though it is no longer on the ground, it still has enough power to pop windshields out of cars parked at the Filtration Plant at Seventy-Eighth Street and the lake. The disaster is immense -- 33 people lose their lives, and over 1,000 suffer injuries. 152 homes are totally demolished, and another 900 or more are damaged. In its analysis of the tornado the National Weather Service concludes, "Most of those killed were people who were not in a position to hear the warning because they were away from home. Actually, the tornado could hardly have come at a worst [sic] time of day or week to catch the greatest number of people out in the open."