Thursday, February 22, 2018

February 22, 1892 -- Congressional Delegation Monitors Fair Progress

February 22, 1892 – All of the officials of the World’s Columbian Exposition, due to open in a little over a year, meet at the Van Buren Street station for a trip to Jackson Park where they will show off the progress of the grounds for the fair to officials from Washington, D. C.  Those with special passes gather at the Woman’s Building on a damp day, the first stop for the Congressional delegation.  At the east entrance of the building a platform stands with a huge map showing the grounds and the different buildings that will be a part of the fair.  At 10:30 a.m. the train carrying the visitors arrives with at least a thousand persons entering the grounds.  At 10:45 a.m. the President of the World’s Columbian Exposition board, William Taylor Baker, begins to speak, saying, “On behalf of the World’s Fair management I welcome you to this the scene of active operation.  Eight months hence I hope to welcome you again.  Today is but a promise of future things.  What has already been done is a guarantee that the twelfth day of October these buildings will be ready for occupancy … It is hard to derive inspiration from a foggy morning.  But we promise you all better weather when you come again.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, February 23, 1892] With that the Chief of Construction, Daniel L. Burnham, using the large map mounted on the dais, explains the grounds and the buildings.  He gives “a startling array of facts and figures.  He described the attractive features of the waterways, the different displays, and the buildings in such a way that the dullest imagination could not help framing a picture of wonderful proportions.”  At the conclusion of Burnham’s speech, the delegation heads to the roof of the Woman’s Building.  It was a “picturesque assemblage … tall Western Representatives, dapper New York politicians, Southern belles, and chivalrous Colonels.” The Tribune reports that “A common remark among the Congressmen was: ‘It’s a big thing isn’t it?’”  The above photo shows construction of the great fair, looking east across the Illinois Central Railroad tracks at Sixty-First Street.

February 22, 1922 – The Chicago Daily Tribune prints an editorial in praise of the 6,000 Chicago club women who have successfully petitioned the South Park Commissioners for the Illinois chapter of the American Society of Architects to restore one wing of the old Fine Arts building, a building that would eventually be fully restored and see new life as today’s Museum of Science and Industry.  The editorial states, “Unquestionably the building is one of the most beautiful architecturally in the world.  It is a credit to Chicago, an inspiration to modern builders, and a monument to the World’s Fair which marks an epoch in the city’s history.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, February 22, 1922] At this point, no one knows what will become of one of the only survivors of the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893.  The paper proposes some possibilities:  a branch of the Art Institute; a space for loan exhibits of Chicago artists; a school of industrial art; a park field house with gymnasiums, swimming pools, and assembly halls; even a public library branch.  The investment of just $7,000, the editorial observes, is a good one and will “furnish a striking contrast with the remainder of the building and reveal most effectively the real and potential beauties of the structure.”  The above photo shows the condition of the building that would become the city's Science Museum, today's Museum of Science and Industry, in 1925.

February 22, 1914 -- Chicago comes by its role of Sanctuary City honestly as can be seen by an event that took place over a century ago.  Despite a blinding snowstorm, 2,200 out of the 4,700 citizens who have been naturalized since July 1, 1913 gather together at the Auditorium Building at the New Citizens' Allegiance Celebration. Dr. Emil G. Hirsch, who was born in Luxembourg, and is the rabbi of the Chicago Sinai Congregation, gives the address. He tells the audience, "Let us be on our guard against tampering with our Americanism by hitching it to a hyphen . . . Let us see to it that our conduct disarms this anti-alien prejudice and show that American civilization has been enriched by reason of our being here." Mrs. Mary McDowell, head of the University of Chicago settlement, the "Angel of the Stockyards," speaks especially to the women of the audience, saying, "We must learn things from you. You must give us your sentiment and ideals, for they belong to us now, and we need them. If you like this city, you can help us make it fit to live in." Dr. Hirsch and Mrs. McDowell are pictured above.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

February 21, 1947 -- Tribune Completes Another Purchase on the River

February 21, 1947 – The Chicago Tribune Building Corporation, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Tribune Company, completes purchase of approximately 39,000 square feet of land, running along the north bank of the Chicago River, land formerly owned by the New York Central Railroad Company.  Purchase of the land gives the Tribune Building Corporation 385 feet of frontage along the river, east of the bridge at Michigan Avenue, and west of the large warehouse of Hibbard Spencer Bartlett and Company. Today, the Gleacher Center, the downtown campus for the University of Chicago sits on the site.  The above photos show the property in 1926 and as it appears today.  401 North Michigan Avenue, the 1965 glassy tower designed by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, stands on property the company purchased four years earlier.

February 21, 2007 – On this day ten years ago Carson, Pirie, Scott closed its State Street store, and 84-year-old Virginia Connor, who has worked in the men’s department for 46 years, the last four of which were in “Men’s Basics,” bids farewell to her fellow clerks. “The mind of men is extremely interesting,” Connor says.  “Men are extremely vain.   Men always say they’re smaller than they really are, in the waist.  They don’t really mean to lie, they just believe it, in their minds.  And so, you have to be very patient with them.”  [Chicago Tribune, February 22, 2007] When Connor began her career at Carsons she was required to wear white gloves, a suit or a skirt and blouse and a jacket.  As of this day she will be dressing up to look for another job.  One of her last interactions with a customer is with a man who comes up to her, asking to exchange an item.  “Exchange what,” she asks him.  “There’s nothing in the department to exchange.  It’s gone.” 

February 21, 1912 -- The worst February storm in 18 years brings business in Chicago to a standstill. Service on the Illinois Central suburban line is shut down at 1:30 p.m. after a northbound train crashes into the rear of a milk train, leaving stations crowded with passengers. The downtown hotels do a brisk business, taking in workers who are unable to find a train home. For the first time in the city's history the street cleaning bureau gives up the fight in the face of 52-m.p.h. winds that leave workers lost in white-out conditions and horses wandering around in Grant Park. Policemen at crossings in the Loop are kept busy picking up people who have fallen or been blown into drifts. Members of a funeral party for 12-year-old Rose Myrtle Drautzburg, with her schoolmates acting as pallbearers, start for the Grand Trunk station at Forty-Seventh Street at 9:30 in the morning and wait for a train until 4:30 p.n. when they are informed that the train is cancelled. The estimate is that over 30,000 men are temporarily thrown out of work because of the weather.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

February 20, 1910 -- Dwight Perkins Backed by Chicago Federation of Labor

Dwight Heard Perkins
February 20, 1910 – The Chicago Daily Tribune reports that the Chicago Federation of Labor has stepped up in defense of suspended Chicago Board of Education architect Dwight H. Perkins, adopting a resolution “denouncing ‘star chamber trials’ and demanding that Architect Perkins and ‘all civil service employ√©s’ be given public trials when charges are preferred against them.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, February 20, 1910] Oscar F. Greifenhagen, a member of the trial committee of the Board of Education’s school management committee says that the demand that Perkins be given a trial by his peers is “absurd.”  For five years Perkins had served as the Chief Architect of the Chicago School Board, designing close to 50 schools, and as a noted engineering journal at the time wrote, “It is greatly to be regretted that for purely personal and political reasons Chicago is to lose a man who has so efficiently served the city, and who has rendered so great a service to modern school architecture in the United States.” [The Technology Review, Volume 12, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1910]  For more on Perkins, turn to these entries in Connecting the Windy City here and here and here and here and here.

February 20, 1958 -- Marc Chagall arrives in Chicago to deliver three lectures at the University of Chicago under the auspices of the Committee on Social Thought.  Dr. John U. Nef, the chairman of the committee, a man who has worked for over a year to get Chagall’s visit approved, introduces the artist to the assembled group.  Speaking in French, Chagall speaks of “mankind’s need to reform to first principles:  love thy neighbor as thyself, forgive thine enemies.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, February 21, 1958] The artist says, “For me life divides itself into two parts – Life and Death – and for me whatever is not an inner truth is death.  But maybe – to be a little more concrete – or, if you prefer, more truthful, one must use the word ‘love,’ because there is the true color, not only in art, but in life.”  During his stay, Art Institute officials will photograph him with his works, and for the first time in forty years he will see “Birth,” one of his early paintings that the late Maurice Culberg donated to the museum.  It would be another decade before Chagall would return to a dramatically changed city to supervise the installation of his “Four Seasons” mosaic at the corner of Randolph and Dearborn Streets.

February 20, 1947 -- The Illinois Department of Aeronautics approves Chicago's plan for the construction of the Northerly Island downtown air terminal. There are a couple of caveats -- no instruction flights would be permitted and the airport must be closed under unfavorable wind conditions. Additionally, a power boat must be kept available at all times for emergency use and pleasure boats would need to be prevented from becoming obstructions in landing approach zones. The island, originally created for the 1933 and 1934 Century of Progress World's Fair, is in the process of being converted to a multi-use recreational area. The new incarnation of the park began at about 1:30 in the morning on March 31, 2003 when Mayor Daley ordered the bulldozing of the runway at Meigs with no advance warning, not even to the FAA.