Sunday, June 3, 2018

June 3, 1921 -- Marie Curie Visits Chicago

June 3, 1921–Marie Curie, on her first trip to the United States, visits Chicago for two hours and is “besieged by newspaper men and women anxious to get her ideas on the fashions, the war, radium, woman suffrage, the political situation.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, June 4, 1921]All Curie, the winner of two Nobel Prizes in Physics, wants to discuss, though, is Lake Michigan.  The Tribune reports, “To her the engineering feat of reversing the flow of the Chicago river to dispose of the city’s sewage was a problem far more interesting than a comparison of American styles with French creations.”  By nightfall she is off to Colorado with a topographical map of the western states in hand, a gift of Mrs. W. Lee Lewis of Northwestern University.

June 3, 1933 – A receiver is appointed to collect the income from the White City amusement park at Sixty-Third Street and South Park Avenue, until delinquent taxes of $75,535 are paid in full.  This is the end for the great fun fair that began in 1905 in what is now the Greater Grand Crossing area of the city’s south side.  Only the roller rink remains at the end of 1933, and that closes in 1949.  Today’s Parkway Gardens stands where the park once attracted patrons from all over the city, lured by its bright lights and promise of fun-filled evenings.  There were at least two dozen amusement parks in the United States that carried the “White City” label, a name that comes directly from the great White City of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago.  The photos show the original amusement park and Parkway Gardens that stands in its place today.

June 3, 1950 – Foundation work begins for a 1.5 million dollar church that will stand on Madison Street on the former site of the La Salle Theater. The new church and friary of the Franciscan Fathers will replace the 1875 St. Peter’s Church that stood at 816 North Clark Street. The new church, designed by Vitzthum and Burns, will have seating for 1,550 in the main section with two chapels providing 500 more seats. An Arvid Strauss sculpture of Christ and the cross will grace the Madison Street entrance 50 feet above the street.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

May 20, 1895 -- Second Regiment Armory Ordered Off the Lakefront

May 20, 1895 –Another step is taken in the City Council in an effort to establish a lakefront park with the following order: “Whereas. The Second Regiment Armory and Battery D, located on the Lake-Front, between Madison and Washington streets, are being used for the benefit of private parties; and Whereas, It is important that these buildings be removed without delay; therefore, be it Ordered. That the Commissioner of Public Works is hereby directed to see that such buildings are removed at once.”[Chicago Daily Tribune, May 21, 1895]In debate over the resolution Alderman Madden observes that “the buildings were only used for dances, prize fights, dog shows, and bicycle races.” Alderman Coughlin countered that the city was using one of the buildings as a police station and a fire engine house and that “It was all very well to talk in time of peace, but when soldiers were wanted the Council gladly would accommodate the regiments controlling the armories.”  The bill passes by a vote of 51 to 10.  The armory can be seen in the above rendering on the far side of the massive Industrial Exposition Building, which was torn down to make way for the Art Institute of Chicago.

May 20, 1914 – The board of the South Park Commissioners authorizes its superintendent, J. F. Foster, to begin “at once” the first phase of Grant Park improvement by beautifying a strip of land west of the Illinois Central tracks between Jackson Boulevard and Randolph Street.  Foster says, “These plans will be worked out by our landscape architects and gardeners from the original complete Grant park plan submitted by Olmstead brothers of Boston.  The park will be beautified in units.  The second portion to be improved will be that west of the Illinois Central tracks and running south from Jackson boulevard to the proposed new Illinois Central terminal to be built south of Twelfth Street extended.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, May 21, 1914] The above photo, taken in July of 1914, shows Monroe Street as it crosses the Illinois Central tracks.  The Modern Wing of the Art Institute of Chicago sits on the right side of the street today on the lake side of the railroad tracks.

May 20, 1965 – The Plaza of the Americas on the north side of the Wrigley building is opened, extending from the lot line on Michigan Avenue almost to Rush Street. This is the first of two great public spaces on Michigan avenue to be developed by private interests. Pioneer Court, jointly developed by the Tribune Company and the Equitable Life Assurance Society of the United States, will open on the east side of the avenue in the upcoming month. The Plaza of the Americas is a joint undertaking of the Wrigley company and Apollo Savings and Loan Association of Chicago, which occupies the building just to the north of the Wrigley Building. That building is now the Realtor Building at 430 North Michigan Avenue. On this day in 1965 at 11:45 the flags of Chicago and the United States are raised, followed by the flags representing the nations of the Organization of American States. There is to be a pole set aside for the Cuban flag, but no flag will be raised. “It was decided that until Cuba becomes free, its flag would not be flown,” Edward P. Kelly, the chairman of Apollo Savings, says. [Chicago Tribune, May 16, 1965]

Saturday, May 19, 2018

May 19, 1862 -- Clark Street Cattle Ban Imposed

May 19, 1862 –The first regular meeting of the newly elected Common Council is held, and the alderman get off to a big start.  Alderman Hoyt presents an ordinance regulating cows … “providing that no person should drive cows in herds to pasture, who lives east of Clark street on any street west of Clark street, and vice versa.”  [Chicago Tribune, May 20, 1862]From the looks of it this burg is becoming civilized, and Clark Street seems to be turning into a pretty big deal. 

May 19, 1893 -- The battle for the city’s lakefront, which continues to this day, commences as a judge issues a restraining order that prevents the city from leasing any part of the Lake-Front Park “to a circus or to any party or parties for any purpose except as a public park.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, May 20, 1893] Although the judge says that he will allow the circus to continue in the park until the end of its run on June 5, he orders that all other parties leasing space in the park must get the heck out. Elbridge Haney, attorney for Montgomery Ward and Co., says, “The city authorities have rented the property at ridiculously low figures to circuses and other shows. This year they have rented it for two weeks for $5,000. Then the city has for years maintained a yard for storing paving blocks, tar wagons, stones, old lumber, and all sorts of rubbish, and lately it proposes to add another objectionable building for stabling sixty garbage horses and wagons. Last Monday it commenced the erection of such a building, and I compelled the city to quit work as soon as I discovered it.” The battle over the Lucas Museum of Narrative Arts, pictured above, a plan that has now been abandoned, is just one more episode in a 125-year narrative about how best to use the city's lakefront.

May 19, 1908 – A plaster of paris model goes on display at the Art Institute of Chicago, showing landscape architect Frderick Law Olmsted’s vision for Grant Park. The Chicago Daily Tribune reports rapturously, “From the sooty network of railroad tracks and the malodorous wastes of mud and garbage, there will rise, according to the model, a magnificent plaza, beautiful buildings, broad meadows, great trees, swimming pools, boat houses, brilliant flower gardens, impressive boulevards and winding drives.  Above all, Chicago will regain its heritage, the lake, which will be bordered by high wooded banks, surmounted by promenades and drives.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, May 20, 1908] The focal point of the plan will be the Field Columbian museum, situated in the center of the park on Michigan Avenue, dwarfing the Art Institute’s building just to the north.  The plan locates the Crerar library to the south of the Field Museum, balancing the Art Institute to the north.  Other amenities include a gymnasium, natatorium, “a monster playground,” boat houses, restaurants, rest houses and “airy piazzas.”  The chairman of the South Park Commissioners, Henry G. Foreman, says of the plan, “Chicago has become so used to a front yard filled with smoke, and cinders, and railroad tracks, and ugly freight cars, and mud, and refuse, that any plan to change it seems to many people a mere dream.  It is hard to wake people up to the fact that we not only have great opportunities, but that we are making the most of them, and soon will have adjoining the loop a great and beautiful park.”

Friday, May 18, 2018

May 18, 1886 -- Schiller Monument Dedicated

May 18, 1886 –The Schiller Monument in Lincoln Park is unveiled on a Saturday afternoon before 7,000 people, including members of 60 separate German societies and lodges of the city.  Mayor Carter Harrison and William Rapp, editor of the Staats-Zeitung, make speeches appropriate to the occasion.  The Chicago statue is recast from a model of the original sculpture that stands in Marbach, the birthplace of Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller.  The original sculptor was Ernst Rau.  According to the Chicago Park District a large number of German immigrants held a meeting in Turner Hall, after spending several years raising money for the monument, and subsequently placed a cornerstone and foundation for the work in Lincoln Park.  William Pelargus, a sculptor from Stuttgard, was hired to recast the original Marbach monument, and a Lake View stone cutter was given the commission to create the granite base.  The Laing and Son Granite Company repaired the monument in 1959 and installed a bronze plaque on the base.  It still stands in its original location. The top photo shows the original monument in Marbach.  Below that is the memorial as it looked in the early 1900's.  It is not much changed today, as can be seen in the final photo.

May 18, 1878 – The cornerstone is placed for the First Regiment’s armory on Jackson Street between Wabash and Michigan Avenues, celebrated in “one of the finest military parades and reviews that has taken place in this city for years.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, May 15, 1878] The first meeting to organize a National Guard regiment in Chicago took place on August 28, 1874 with the militia funded through private donations.  George M. Pullman contributed the first $500 with 22 of the city’s leading citizens contributing $100 apiece.  The first drill hall was established at 112 Lake Street.  In February of 1875 the First Regiment assembled as demonstrations swept the downtown area.  The six companies of the regiment were credited with saving the city from almost certain rioting as the men encamped in the armory.  The members of the regiment, still without a suitable place to call home, played an instrumental role in putting down the disturbances that came in July of 1877 during the rioting that occurred during the railroad strike, stationing cannons on the Twelfth and Sixteenth Street bridges.  Finally, the First Regiment dedicated its new armory on the site of the old Trinity Church on October 29, 1878.  The armory remained open until 1900 when a new armory was begun farther south on Michigan Avenue.  The above photo shows the armory as it stood on Jackson next to the Leiland Hotel.

May 18, 1967 – Officials of Chicago Helicopter Airways, Inc. predict that the helicopter line may be hauling a million passengers annually within a few years. The chairman of the company, John S. Gleason, Jr., says that preliminary plans have begun for developing a downtown heliport in Grant Park or on adjacent Illinois Central air rights. Gleason is encouraged by reports that a projection of 300 flights a day operating out of a revamped Midway Airport could result in the shuttling of a million passengers a year between Midway, O’Hare and the Loop. He is also optimistic about a third major airport being built in the lake. Optimism is the engine that turns the rotors, right? Even if the craft never gets off the ground, the noise sure gets your attention.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

May 17, 1912 -- Pilot Arrested after Emergency Landing in Grant Park

Farnum T. Fish
May 17, 1912 –After being caught in a dangerous air pocket, Farnum T. Fish, “the youthful aviator at the Illinois Aero club’s flying field,” [Chicago Daily Tribune, May 18, 1912]is forced to descend from 8,800 feet and land his plane in Grant Park in front of the Auditorium Hotel. He is almost immediately arrested by park police officers.  At the South Clark Street police station, the 16-year-old aviator is formally charged with violating Section 1 of Chapter 7 of the 1911 code of the South Park Commissioners, which states, “No person shall make any descent in or from any balloon, aeroplane, or parachute nor shall any person aid or permit any balloon, aeroplane, or parachute to descend in any park or in any boulevard.  Any person violating any clause or provision of this section shall be fined not less than $10 nor more than $100 for each offense.” When released on a $400 bond, Fish observes, “Chicago must be ahead of the times. I know of no city in the world with such an ordinance.” Known as the “Boy Aviator,” Fish received FAI Airplane Pilot’s Certificate #85 in Dayton, Ohio in 1911.  He flew nearly continuouslyin various ari meets throughout 1912.  In 1915 he flew for Pancho Villa in Mexico where he was shot in the leg while flying over enemy troops, still managing to land his plane before collapsing at the air base.  He was commissioned as a lieutenant in the United States Army in July,1918 and served as an overseas test pilot for the Army Signal Corps.  He was a member of the Air service Officers Reserve Corps form June 1919 to 1934 and returned briefly to active duty in 1942. He died on July 3, 1978.  

May 17, 1913 – In a rare display of cross-town (even cross-country) unity, over 35,000 Chicagoans slip through the turnstiles at Comiskey Park to pay tribute to New York Yankee manager Frank Leroy Chance, a former North Sider. As I. E. Sanborn reports for the Chicago Daily Tribune, “It was impossible at anytime to tell Chance fans from Sox fans. For that one day each was both and both each.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, May 18, 1913] The festivities begin at 2:00 p.m. when the White Sox band marches onto the field from the south entrance and settles behind home plate. For an hour afterward the “field looked like anything but a baseball park. The diamond was full of acrobats, tumblers, jugglers, trick dogs, human snakes and Sandows (professional bodybuilders).” Just before 3:00 Chance heads to home plate with the Yankee line-up, accompanied by Governor Edward Dunne and Mayor Carter Harrison. The fans jump up “with a roar which in the aggregate sounded like several hundred Niagaras all working at once.” The crowd is even more enthusiastic when it is learned that Chance will play first base for an inning with the New York team. Before that, though, he is presented with a pair of giant floral pieces eight feet tall, and a horseshoe of red carnations and roses. Chance had led the Cubs to World Series championships in 1907 and 1908, but in 1912 while in the hospital recovering from blood clots that resulted from blows to the head from pitches, the Cubs released him and the Yankees signed him to a three-year contract worth $120,000. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1946, 22 years after his death. On this day in 1913, though, the city is his – not so the game, which the last-place Sox win, 6-2. As Sanborn wrote, “It was a wonderful testimony to the warm spot Chicago has in its heart for the young Lochinvar (You won’t see too many baseball writers these days making references to Sir Walter Scott in their copy . . .) who came out of the farthest west more than a dozen years ago, stole a bride among its fairest daughters, and gave the city in return a proud place in the annals of baseball.”

May 17, 2016 – As it nears its first year of operation the Bloomindale Trail, Chicago’s “606,” comes under fire as hundreds of people march in a protest against the trail, saying that its popularity is making the area unaffordable for families who were there before the trail opened.  In a press release the Logan Square Neighborhood Association announces the march with this assertion, “Our families are being displaced from the community they love because housing costs are skyrocketing.”  The protest aims to get six aldermen from the area to get behind two ordinances.  One would institute a property tax rebate that would make it easier for families to stay in the neighborhood.  The other would cordon off an area on the west end of the 606 in which demolition fees would be assessed by the number of residential units in a building being demolished with fees as high as $25,000 for a single-family home.  Gentrification on the west end of the trail creates particularly strong pressures – the median income in the area is less than $50,000 a year while on the east end of the trail the median income is over twice that amount.  A report by the Institute for Housing Studies at DePaul University concludes, “Before 2012, the abandoned rail line was a penalty on property values of about 1.4 percent.  After the 606 was underway, being near the 606 began to command a premium, but only on the western side of the trail.  Although the rail line was no longer a penalty in 606 East, buyers did not pay an additional premium for homes near the trail in this higher value market.  The story is different in 606 West.  There, buyers were willing to pay a 22.3 percent price premium for properties within one-fifth of a mile of the trail.”

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

May 16, 2009 -- Nichols Bridgeway Opens

May 16, 2009 –The Nichols Bridgeway, a 625-foot pedestrian bridge connecting Millennium Park to the new Modern Wing of the Art Institute of Chicago, opens.  Designed by the Pritzker prize-winning architect of the Modern Wing of the museum, Renzo Piano, it gradually rises from the Great Lawn southwest of the Pritzker Pavilion to a height of 60 feet as it meets up with the Bluhm Family Terrace on the third level of the Modern Wing.  As walkers move along the 450 tons of steel that make up the bridge, they are treated to spectacular views, west down Monroe Street toward the South Branch of the river, east to the open space of Grant Park and Lake Michigan, south to the spectacular new addition to the museum (and the railroad tracks that once occupied the entire area), and, north to Millennium Park and its lush Lurie Garden.  The bridge, built by Industrial Steel, Construction, Inc., is named after its benefactors, John D. and Alexandra Nichols.  

May 16, 1910 – The Chicago Daily Tribune reports that James A. Pugh, the largest stockholder in the Chicago Canal and Dock Company, has confirmed that the company will build piers into the lake at the mouth of the river without permission of the city – if the United States War Department renews the permit that it granted the company 18 months earlier.  A member of the City Council’s committee on harbors, wharves, and bridges says, “If Pugh gets his permit and goes ahead without a city franchise to build his piers he will get into a fight.  We’ll tie the thing up in the courts, if necessary, until we can get a bill through the legislature.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, May 16, 1910] Good luck, Mr. City Council Guy.  The terminal got built – it’s the long light-colored structure to the left of Ogden Slip, extending toward the brand new Lake Point Tower, nearing completion in 1968.  

May 16, 2000 – The Chicago Tribune editorializes about cost overruns at Millennium Park. “Private-sector corporations generally prefer the design-build method of contracting for new facilities,” the editorial observes. “They hire a unified team of architects and builders that can deliver an agreed-to building for an agreed-to price. Then there’s the method Mayor Richard Daley is using on the Millennium Project . . . you might call it the design-as-you-build method.” At issue is a Frank Gehry-design that, as originally proposed, was supposed to cost 150 million dollars and which had by this time risen to $270 million. “And crews are still building the support structure,” the editorial sniped. “What happens when they start adding the fancy stuff?” In a stinging conclusion, the editorial asks, “And one last question for the planners: After you’ve made your last change and gotten your elegant little culture park just the way you like, where are the hoi polloi going to go for the Blues, Jazz, Gospel and Taste concerts that are too big for Millennium Park? Or is that just another small, hanging detail?” A space of over 17 years is probably time enough to judge whether the “little culture park” was worth the investment. Judging from the crowds at what is now the most popular tourist destination in the midwest, it feels as if the “small, hanging details” worked out. The photo above shows the park as it started to take shape in 2001.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

May 15, 1893 -- Art Institute Hosts Woman's Congress

May 15, 1893 –It’s a big, big day in the city as the first of the World’s Fair Congresses kicks off at the spanking new Art Institute, a building that will for the next seven days be the “Place aux Dames”[Chicago Daily Tribune, May 15, 1893]or the site of the Woman’s Congress, a colloquium that “is to be conducted by women, for women, and the subjects that will be discussed are all related to some phase of the life of modern women.” Preparations have been ongoing since May, 1892 and provide for four classes of meetings, the largest of which will consist of two daily sessions held in the Hall of Washington and the Hall of Columbus, each of which will accommodate 3,000 people.  Mrs. Potter Palmer and Mrs. Charles Henrotin will open the Congress on this day with a welcoming address.  One subject that the Woman’s Congress will cover in depth is “Woman’s Progress,” with discussion of such topics as “civil and social evolution of woman; the administrative ability of woman; woman the new factor in industrial economics; the ethics of dress; woman as an actual force in politics; woman as financier; woman in municipal government; the political future for woman and woman’s war for peace.”  One of the unique features of the Congress will occur on the final day, May 21, a Sunday, when religious services will be held at the Art Institute at which only women ordained as ministers will take part.  On that closing evening a “sacred concert” will be held “in which the line of sex will again be drawn, both as to composers and performers, both being, it is hardly necessary to say, women.”  The highlight of the concert will be the Columbian Ladies’ Harp Orchestra, “led by Mme. Josephine Chatterton, who has arranged for this harp orchestra a grand ‘Marche Triumphale,’ … the first time in this country so large a harp orchestra will be heard.

May 15, 1881 – With a fresh legal judgment giving the South Park Commissioners responsibility to improve and maintain streets that move people onto boulevards leading to or passing around parks, the Chicago Daily Tribune offers an opinion on what should be done with Michigan Avenue south of the river.  The editorial shines a spotlight on the one thing “which all the property-owners and residents along the line of Michigan avenue ought to agree to, and which will greatly enhance the beauty of the new boulevard.”  That is … getting rid of all the fences along the front yards that line the street.  “It is only by this means,” the editorial says, “that uniformity can be secured and protection guaranteed against rickety or incongruous fences.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, May 15, 1881]  

May 15, 1938 – An “autogiro” takes off from the Chicago Airport (today’s Midway) at 1:40 p.m., lands on the roof of the main post office at 1:45 and heads back to the airport 15 minutes later. This is a symbolic flight. The two-seater rotor craft will only carry 200 pounds of mail, and it can only fly about 100 miles per hour. BUT this event, as the Chicago Daily Tribune points out, “ . . . presages the day when all mail will be flown between these two points.” With pilot Johnny Miller in the cockpit, the autogiro takes off on the first day of National Air Mail Week, commemorating the day twenty years earlier when air mail service was initiated. The sacks of mail are delivered directly to Postmaster Ernest J. Kruetgenon who stands on the roof of the post office, 14 stories above the Chicago River. Only 200 guests are on the post office roof, but the event is seen and heard by many. The Field Building at 135 South La Salle opens its entire fortieth floor to spectators, and the Board of Trade opens its forty-fourth floor to the public. The event is also covered by W.G.N., WBBM, and the coast-to-coast Mutual broadcasting system.