Sunday, July 23, 2017

July 23, 1897 -- St. Gaudens Honored at Art Institute Reception



July 23, 1897 – Five thousand invitees come to the Art Institute of Chicago to honor the sculptor August St. Gaudens and the widow of General John A. Logan.  “For nearly two hours,” the Chicago Daily Tribune reports, “the throng filed in and out of the room known as the Henry Field gallery, where they were greeted by Mrs. Logan, Mr. St. Gaudens, and the members of the receiving party.  Charles H. Hutchinson, President of the Art Institute, stood at the head of the line, introducing the guests to Mrs. Logan, who offered her hand to each in a hearty grasp.  Scores of times during the evening did Mrs. Logan demonstrate her rare faculty for remembering the names and faces of those whom she had met only casually before.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, July 24, 1897]  The event is held just two days after the widow of the great Civil War general arrives in the city from New York for the dedication of her husband’s statue in Grant Park.  The sculptor, August St. Gaudens, spends the evening of the Art Institute reception in humility.  The Tribune reports that he “stood almost at the end of the line of those receiving the guests.  He who was most talked of among the thousands who thronged the galleries and promenaded the corridors, who was the cynosure of all eyes, was in mien and bearing the most unassuming man in the entire assemblage.  With quiet dignity he received the congratulations that were showered upon him, his clear, keen eyes lighting up now and again as some artist friend added a word of appreciative criticism to his friendly greeting and congratulation.”  For more information on the Logan statue you can turn to this link in Connecting the Windy City.


July 23, 1925 – Chicago’s new Union Station is formally opened at 11:30 a. m.  The ceremonies begin with Mayor William Dever and other officials touring the structure that covers 35 acres just west of the river between Adams Street and Jackson Boulevard.  After the tour is completed the guests are entertained at a luncheon served in the terminal's Fred Harvey restaurant.  The waiting rooms are finished in marble and cover an expanse as large as three baseball diamonds.   The terminal includes a jail for prisoners in transit, a hospital and a chapel.  Graham, Anderson, Probst and White are the architects of the complex.  The photo above shows the massive terminal as it appeared when it opened in 1925.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

July 22, 1985 -- Hotel Niko Plans Announced



July 22, 1985 -- TIshman Realty and Construction Company, Incorporated and Japan Air Lines Development announce plans to build a 450-room luxury hotel on the north side of the Chicago River.  Scheduled to open in June of 1987 on the northwest corner of Dearborn Street and the river, the hotel is expected to cost $70 million.  The firms of Hellmuth, Obata and Kassabaum, Inc. and Takyama and Associates, Inc. project a 350,000 square foot hotel with a 100-seat gourmet French restaurant, a 150-seat Japanese restaurant, and two lounges totaling 160 seats.  The hotel will also feature a 9,000 square-foot ballroom and a smaller 4,000 square-foot gathering hall.  The announcement of the new hotel follows the start of the 35-story Quaker Tower in the same area, a tower that will house the new headquarters for Quaker Oats Company, scheduled to move from the Merchandise Mart in early 1987.  In January of 1997 the Hotel Nikko became the Westin River North Chicago and away went Benkay, the Hotel Nikko's Japanese-style restaurant.


July 22, 1897:  The formal ceremonies dedicating the Logan Monument in Grant Park are held, beginning a 1 p.m.  After the two-hour dedication ceremony, guns sound on the shore and from ships on the lake, and a parade of 10,000 marchers begins at Twelfth Street and Michigan Avenue and moves north on Randolph, west to State, south to Adams, west to Dearborn, north to Washington, west to La Salle, south to Jackson, finally ending at Michigan Avenue.  Mrs. Logan, the general’s widow, is received that evening at the Coliseum with a fireworks display and band concert preceding that event.  Of Augustus St. Gaudens’ equestrian statue of General Logan, the Chicago Daily Tribune writes, “In the statue of General Logan St. Gaudens has chosen as the dominant idea the expression of courage, the martial courage, which is born of patriotism and indomitable will.”  The above photo shows the dedication ceremony on that July day in 1897.

Friday, July 21, 2017

July 21, 1919 -- City Beautiful Movement Sprints Forward



July 21, 1919 – The lead in today’s Chicago Daily Tribune packs a powerful punch, “Not since the disastrous fire of ’71 has the city council at any one meeting considered improvement ordinances of such far reaching effect.”  This is the day that the city council votes on a budget package that will potentially lead to more than $195,000,000 in city improvements, including the completion of a bridge across the river at Michigan Avenue.  There is apparently no opposition to the plans.  “So anxious are the large majority of the aldermen to make Chicago go ahead that it is proposed now that plans be considered at once for initiation of improvements next year,” the Tribune reports.  [Chicago Daily Tribune, July 21, 1919]  Bond issues will lead to the widening of Ogden, Ashland, Western, Robey (now Damen), and South Water Streets.  Two million dollars will cover the cost of finishing Michigan Avenue.  Up to $30,000,000 will cover “reclaiming and improving submerged lands between Grant and Jackson parks.”  Aside from the money involved, the council will ask for an investigation of civic improvements in Detroit, Cleveland, Cincinnati, St. Louis, Kansas City, Omaha, Minneapolis and St. Paul because “Charles H. Wacker of the Chicago plan commission has repeatedly stated that these cities are attempting to become real rivals to Chicago in trade, commerce, manufacturing and municipal improvements.”  The above photo shows the proposal of the Chicago Plan Commission for eliminating the South Water Street markets and improving the area just south of the river.


July 21, 1919 – The Chicago City Council passes two huge ordinances that will, together, have an immense impact on the future of the city.  One is the lake front development ordinance, adopted by a vote of 66 to 2.  This decision ratifies an agreement between the city, the South Park Commission, and the Illinois Central Railroad, restricting development on the lakefront from the Chicago River all the way to Forty-Seventh Street.  The other act submits bond issues for street improvements totaling $28,600,000 that will be on the ballot for approval in November.  Charles H. Wacker, head of the Chicago Plan Commission, says, “This is the greatest day, barring none, in Chicago’s history. It means more to the growth, development, and greatness of the city than anything which has heretofore happened . . . When these improvements are completed this city will have passed from the provincial town class to a real metropolitan city.”  The photo above shows the lake front five years later in 1924.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

July 20, 1881 -- Board of Trade Purchase La Salle Street Property



July 20, 1881 – The Directors of the Board of Trade receive assurances that an ordinance vacating a portion of LaSalle Street between Jackson Boulevard and Van Buren Street will be valid and, based upon this information, vote to purchase the property at this location for $10,000.  The next step will be to organize a Building Association since Illinois law prohibits the Board from erecting a building exceeding $100,000 in valuation.  It is anticipated that the new building will cost at least $800,000, but the matter of the building itself is left for another day.  The Chicago Daily Tribune summarizes the results of the meeting in this way, “The Board of Trade purchases the property for $10,000.  This it leases to a Building Association for a term of fifty or one hundred years at a fixed rental.  The Building Association erects the edifice, and leases to the Board of Trade what my be required at a certain rental, yet to be determined upon.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, July 21, 1881] This would be a decision that would produce a huge impact on this area. According to Homer Hoyt in his One Hundred Years of Land Values in Chicago, "From 1881 to 1883 the value of land on Jackson, Van Buren, Wells, and LaSalle streets near the Board of Trade advanced from $200 and $400 a front foot to from $1,500 to $2,000 a front foot .. the total increase in the value of land and buildings within half a mile from the Board of Trade from 1881 to 1885 was estimated by current observers at from $20,000,000 to $40,000,000."  The first Board of Trade building to stand on this site is pictured above.  Barely visible above the front entrance at the base of the tower are the two statues of Agriculture and Industry that still stand in the plaza outside the present day Board of Trade building.


July 20, 1913 – The Chicago Daily Tribune’s art critic, Harriet Moore, writes an opinion piece in which she supports the City Club in its campaign against billboards.  Her argument begins with a single question, one she asked at a previous hearing in which a City Council committee was listening to testimony from both advocates and opponents of the signs, “Is it your opinion that beauty has neither health value nor financial value in a modern metropolis?”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, July 20, 1913]  She then answers the question with three separate responses:  that beauty is a health producer (“Hideous objects and harsh sounds, assaulting eyes and ears in a manner not to be escaped, destroy the harmony of life by introducing discords, and reduce the joy of life by insulting the senses with ugliness.”); that beauty is a commercial asset in any community (“Without beauty a city is merely a place to make money in and get away from.”); and, beauty is a great investment (“Why does the whole world flock to Italy, spending there millions every year?  Because, a few centuries ago a few hundred artists builded and carved and painted beautifully.”)  Moore concludes, “Chicago has the opportunity to become one of the most beautiful cities in the world.  The lake, the long stretch of park which is to border it, Michigan avenue widened to the river and adequately connected with the Lake Shore drive, the widened Twelfth street, the new railway terminals, the enlarged business district—these and other conditions and projects will create a beautiful metropolis.  Along with these large plans for civic beauty should go eternal vigilance against all kinds of defacement and in favor of all kinds of minor improvements.  The fight against billboards is an important detail of the general campaign.”

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

July 19, 1859 -- Cornerstone Laid at the Board of Trade



July 19, 1859 – The laying of the cornerstone of the new building for the Board of Trade takes place on the lot adjoining the Wells Street Bridge on South Water Street.  According to the Chicago Press and Tribune, “The accommodations the Board are to enjoy will be of the most complete and desirable character, giving them the entire second floor, in a noble hall of 95 feet by 50 feet – its area unbroken by pillar or column.  From this, at either end, open off such ante rooms as the convenience of officers or members require.”  [Chicago Press and Tribune, July 10, 1859]  During the ceremony the President of the Board of Trade, Julian S. Rumsey, places a sealed box the cornerstone, the box containing the First Annual Report of the Board, copies of daily papers, a list of officers and members, the previous day’s telegraphic dispatches, coins in circulation at the time, and a broker’s ticket for 15,000 bushels of corn.  It is anticipated that the new headquarters for the Board of Trade will be completed by the fall.  President Rumsey is pictured above.


July 19, 1922 – Steam shovels begin excavation work in Grant Park, the first step in the construction of the new stadium south of the Field Museum.  The stadium, designed by Holabird and Roche in a neoclassical design style, is the result of an architectural competition to build a stadium as a memorial to American soldiers who lost their lives in service to the country.  The stadium will be completed in three stages between 1922 and 1939, with its final capacity holding over 100,000 people.