Friday, August 7, 2020

August 7, 1978 -- Illinois Center's First Residential Building Begins Rising

August 7, 1978 – Construction begins on Columbus Plaza, the first residential building to go up on the Illinois Central Railroad property between Randolph and Wacker Drive on the south and north and Michigan Avenue and Lake Shore Drive on the west and east.  The 47-story building will contain 552 studio and one- and two-bedroom apartments. Five buildings have already been erected on the 83-acre site since development began in 1969, but they are all commercial or hotel buildings.  Two residential buildings have been completed east of Lake Shore Drive in this time period, the Outer Drive East condominium and Harbor Point; today they can be found to the west of the reconstructed Lake Shore Drive.  The tower is the product of the architectural firm of Fujikawa Conterato Lohan and Associates.

August 7, 1973 – Following the third murder of a woman in Grant Park in less than a year, the Chicago Tribune editorializes about “Our Unsafe City.”  [Chicago Tribune, August 7, 1973] “That women should be killed in the front yard of downtown Chicago,” the editorial states, “is shocking and shameful.  That the murders remain unsolved compounds the shame.”  The Tribune offers three areas that should be considered immediately.  “The facts call for more than hand wringing.  They call for more rigorous police work in the future than in the past,” the editorial states.  Along with that, “The facts call also for constant concern on the part of everyone for the safety of both oneself and of others.  Public awareness of risk needs to be heightened, tho of course short of panic or neurosis.” And, finally, “… prudence suggests staying away from wooded areas without sight lines to passers-by, even when those areas are in heavily used public parks … Broad daylight is not sufficient protection.”  The editorial concludes, “It is shameful that, more and more, people have reason to become wary like antelopes among predators.  The harsh fact is that vicious crime in public places is an ever present possibility in cities, including Chicago.  Heightened vigilance by both police and public offers the best—tho an imperfect—defense.”

August 7, 1968 – For the second night in a row electrical malfunctions at the Chicago River lock trap sight-seeing boats and pleasure craft inside the lock in stifling summer heat.  For more than two hours passengers fume as boats bob up and down, trapped between lake and river.  Passengers on board the Sea King finally decide they have had enough and demand to get off, “clambering onto the sea wall looking strangely like a platoon of middle aged marines in mufti making an invasion landing.”  [Chicago Tribune, August 8, 1968].  Passengers in boats already out on the lake get a far longer ride than the one for which they paid as the boats sail up and down the lakefront, waiting to get back to their river docks.  The owner of Mercury Sightseeing Boats, Art Agra, greets the suggestion from a reporter that river passengers got a nice ride with, “Let’s face it – the river is junk, and this whole affair is a pain in the neck.”  Navy Pier in 1968 is circled in the distance of the top photo.  The area has changed considerably as can be seen in the second photo. 

August 7, 1910:  The Chicago Daily Tribune once again editorializes about the evil of the Illinois Central Railroad, writing, “Yesterday was a perfect day in Chicago.  The sky was cloudless and the lake a blue turquoise, save along the eastern edge of the south side.  There the vile smoke from a hundred coughing locomotives of the Illinois Central railroad made it seem the gateway to the inferno.  All along one-half of what should be the most magnificent city water front of the world went the disfiguring trains drawn by engines, the stacks of which belched forth clouds of smoke and showers of embers.  The public library, the Art institute, the hotels, the business blocks, and miles and miles of private residences are all begrimed and polluted by this nuisance.  Books, pictures, and furniture are discolored by it, health is endangered, and a property loss of millions constantly increased.” The paper presents only one viable alternative:  electrification.  Yet, it is pessimistic about such a remedy ever occurring.  “A corporation like the Illinois Central never improves its service until the balance goes against it,” the editorial ends.  “Or until a municipality takes it by the back of its corporate neck and squeezes it into compliance with a popular and imperative demand.”  At this point the Illinois Central operated over 300 steam trains into and out of Chicago.  It would take 16 more years before the commuter tracks were electrified from downtown to Matteson.

Thursday, August 6, 2020

August 6, 1911 -- La Salle Street Tunnel Creating Havoc
August 6, 1911 -- With the work of deepening the La Salle Street streetcar tunnel ongoing, the Chicago Daily Tribune discloses that at least a dozen buildings near the tunnel have settled from four to eighteen inches.  Two of those structures have cracked from wall to wall, and on both sides of the river La Salle Street sidewalks and streets have sunk four inches.  The Oakley building, a seven-story structure at the southwest corner of La Salle Street and Michigan Street is held together by 380 jackscrews, six iron braces and tons of wooden scaffolding.  It has settled 16 inches, and in the northeast corner a crack, in some places more than an inch wide, runs from the ground to the roof of the building.  The Chicago Daily Tribune reports, “Wooden braces are keeping the windows from collapsing.  Plastering is dropping from the inside walls, and, except for the careful reinforcements which have gone on, the warehouse long since would have collapsed.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, August 6, 1911]. The headquarters of the Armour Steamship Line is close to collapsing into the river after settling four inches in a 24-hour period a week earlier.  Five hundred jackscrews have barely kept it upright.  Its outer walls have been torn open in at least a half-dozen places.  Nearly all of the streets that intersect La Salle Street on both sides of the river have settled a minimum of two inches and “sidewalks have erupted in peaks and angles or slipped half way into the excavation for the tunnel approach.”  The president of the company that is building the tunnel, Michael H. McGovern, says, “We are not responsible for damage done to nearby buildings.  Property owners were notified before the work started to take the necessary precautions, and as long as our excavations do not go outside the curb line we are immune from suit.  It is my understanding that the company will assume the cost for the repair of street damages.”  The above photo shows the location of the north portal of the tunnel, used today as the entrance to parking garages at 300 North La Salle Street and the Reid Murdoch Building.

August 6, 1978 – The Chicago Tribune reports that even though developers promised to landscape the shore line of Wolf Point in the original deal for special zoning status made with the city to build the Apparel Center, the area “remains a tangle of high weeds and unpruned trees several years after owners promised to landscape the area.”  [Chicago Tribune, August 6, 1978].  Architectural renderings show a 25-foot wide park with a paved pathway winding around the quarter-mile of riverfront property to the south of the Apparel Center, which was completed in 1976.  James Bidwill, the spokesman for the developers, the descendants of the late Joseph P. Kennedy, says, “There are several alternative aspects of planning that will result in beautification of the park in the near future.”  There is good news along much of the river, though.  The 1974 “Riverside Plan of Chicago” is beginning to reap benefits as four small parks with a row of linden trees and park benches have been established on the south side of the Main Stem.  Two of these small parks, between Wabash and Dearborn, have been created with $139 million that the IBM Corporation gave the city for trees, lighting, granite paving, and concrete walls to block out the noise of lower Wacker Drive from the firm's 1971 headquarters building across the river.  Still to come is a long strip of green space between Michigan Avenue and the lake, a strip of land which the developers of Illinois Center gave to the city.  Development there must wait until the Columbus Drive bridge is completed and infrastructure work for the Deep Tunnel project is wrapped up.  The top photo shows the area around Lake Street -- note the elevated train crossing the river -- in the 1970's.  The second photo shows the same area, looking at it from the opposite direction.  Things have changed ... for the better ... although it's hard not to miss the Wild Turkey signboard.

August 6, 1974:  The Queen of Andersonville, a tour boat operated by Wendella Sightseeing Boats, sinks just south of the Coast Guard station at the Chicago lock where the Chicago River meets Lake Michigan.  Hero of the Day is Bob Agra, the captain of a Mercury sightseeing boat, who maneuvers his boat, loaded with about 70 people, alongside the stricken Wendella craft and helps evacuate all 23 passengers, many of them wearing life jackets.  “Some of the rescued people were a little shook up,” Agra states.  “But they weren’t hysterical.”  [Chicago Tribune, August 7, 1974]  Agra attaches the foundering boat to his own with three lines and tows it to an area behind the breakwater, southwest of the lock.  All three lines eventually break, and the Queen of Andersonville sinks before the hoist at the Coast Guard station can be lowered to secure the vessel.  Agra's son, Bob, who was on board that day as a deck hand, is shown above.  Today he is head of Chicago's First Lady, partners with the Chicago Architecture Center's premier architectural tour on the Chicago River.

August 6, 1971 – The largest crowd in the history of Ravinia Park comes to the outdoor venue on the North Shore to see Jesus Christ Superstar.  The crowd of 18,718 people breaks the previous record, set by Judy Collins, of 18,491, a week earlier.  More than 150 police officers are on duty, dispatched from five suburbs to patrol a mellow crowd.  “Despite the religious theme of last night’s event,” the Chicago Tribune reported, “The thousands of young listeners looked and acted little differently than at more mundane outdoor rock concerts.  Botttles of wine were passed freely, along with the ever-present marijuana cigarets.” [Chicago Tribune, August 7, 1971] The performance company that provided the show had previously performed in Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and Toronto.  The Ravinia show attracted at least 5,000 more people than any of the troupe’s previous performances.

August 6, 1946 – Edward J. Sparling, the president of Roosevelt College, tells of the school’s plans to restore the newly purchased Auditorium building to its original beauty.  Sparling says that “old paintings will be restored, remodeling of the hotel into classrooms and offices will follow the original structure as nearly as possible, and the theater will be operated by the college or leased to someone who wants to bring back music and theatrical productions to the 57 year old stage.”  Mrs. Julius Weil, the daughter of architect Dankmar Adler, the architect of the Auditorium building along with Louis Sullivan, says that General Sherman’s march to the sea in the Civil War was instrumental in her father’s plans for the auditorium.  “In every house that was looted,” says Mrs. Weil, “my father eagerly searched for books on architecture.  When he returned to Chicago he cooperated with Theodore Thomas in working out arches and types of construction for better acoustics.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, August 7, 1946] Sparling says that the renovated building will allow the college to serve 2,000 more veterans. The $400,000 purchase price of the building, he reveals, is the result of “loans by friends, gifts, efficient administration, and profit from the sale of the building at 231 South Wells Street.”

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

August 5, 1966 -- Cr. King Felled by Rock in Chicago March
August 5, 1966 – The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King leads a large number of people in an open housing march on a real estate office on Sixty-Third Street as “a hail of rocks, bottles, and curses and jeers” [Chicago Tribune, August 6, 1966] greets the group.  Forty-one people protesting the march are arrested and still more are arrested afterward when an attempt is made by whites shouting racial slurs to block Kedzie Avenue from Marquette Road to Sixty-Third Street.  Projectiles hurled at Dr. King’s marchers, including bricks and bottles and at least one knife, injure at least 30 people as well as four police officers.  Dr. King himself is struck by a rock as he gets out of a car on Sacramento Avenue in Marquette Park to join 700 demonstrators.  He is knocked to one knee and stays there as he attempts to clear his head.  He says, “I have to do this – to expose myself – to bring this hate into the open.  I have seen many demonstrations in the south but I have never seen anything so hostile and so hateful as I’ve seen here today.”  An estimated 1,200 policemen are on hand to provide protection for the marchers.  At Sixty-Fourth Street and California Avenue, the marchers are stopped when 300 white teenagers sit down in the street.  Police disburse them, only to have the group run a half-block north and block the road again.  Police charge the youths again, and the march continues to the F. H. Halvorsen Co., Inc., real estate office at 3145 West Sixty-Third Street, which is closed.  Re-tracing their steps in relative calm, the marchers return to Marquette Park where an estimated 4,000 people jeer, heckle and throw rocks and firecrackers at them.  The assistant deputy superintendent of police, Captain James Hartnett, calls the violence the worst of the summer.

August 5, 1970:  With 200 police officers gathered from seven other suburbs on hand, Highland Park’s Ravinia Park gives its stage to Janis Joplin and the Full Tilt Boogie Band.  The Chicago Tribune describes the scene as a mob consisting of “20,000 clapping screaming youths listening to the Full Tilt Boogie band . . . Highland Park Police Chief Michael Bonamarte waiting for a riot.”  [Chicago Tribune, August 6, 1970]  “In her satin hooker clothes,” Tribune music critic Linda Winer writes, “no less than a full fall of purple feathers sitting atop her tangled hair, foot stamping, bottom waving, Southern Comfort swigging Miss Joplin could almost convince you to just watch her sing all night.”  Eight days after the concert at Ravinia Joplin gives her final public concert at Harvard Stadium.  On October 4, in the middle of recording her album Pearl, she fails to show up at the studio, and at the age of 27 she is found, dead of an overdose at Hollywood’s Landmark Hotel.
August 5, 1967 – A thief nabs an Andrew Wyeth painting, “Artist’s Studio,” from the Sears-Vincent Price Gallery at 140 East Ontario Street and vanishes.  Although a dozen patrons are inside the gallery when the painting disappears, no one sees the thief, who escapes with the 50-pound painting and its driftwood frame at 2:00 p.m.   At least ten galleries are located within the general area and the director of the gallery, Harold Patton, says, “People are always walking around with paintings in this area.”  The painting was completed in 1966 and had hung in the gallery since Sears opened the showroom. In the Fall of 2000 the painting, depicting the artists’ studio in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, turned up at Christie’s Auction House in New York.  Its value had grown from $30,000 at the time of the theft to more than $500,000 by the time it re-surfaced.   

Leo Noble Burnett
August 5, 1935 –The announcement is made that a new advertising agency, known as the Burnett Company, Inc. with offices at 360 North Michigan Avenue, has been formed.  The founder, Leo Noble Burnett, was born in St. Johns, Michigan where he resided until his graduation from the University of Michigan in 1914. He came to Illinois, working briefly as a reporter for the Peoria Journal before moving on to edit the company magazine for the Cadillac Motor Car Company.  Burnett served a stint in the United States Navy during World War I before becoming vice-president of the Lafayette Motor Company and later, vice-president of the Homer McKee Advertising Agency in Indianapolis.  In 1930 he joined Erwin, Wasey and Company where he oversaw the account of the Minnesota Canning Company, a marketer of Niblets and Green Giant canned vegetables.  On August 1, 1935 Burnett resigned and four days later began the new firm with three accounts: Minnesota Canning, Hoover, and Realsilk Hosiery.  The motto of the new agency became “Reach for the Stars.”  AdAge said of the man, “Although a short, somewhat stout man with little physical charisma or pretense, Burnett became a central figure in the Chicago advertising scene as his agency grew competitive with the major New York shops. In 1953, the Leo Burnett Company moved onto the list of the top 10 American agencies with billings of $46.4 million.  The following year it won Philip Morris Cos.’ Marlboro account; Burnett took a personal role in repositioning the brand from a women’s cigarette to a men’s with the introduction of the ‘Marlboro Man’ campaign.”  Burnett died at his home in Lake Zurich on June 7, 1971 after putting in a full day at the office.  In 1999 Advertising Age named him as the third most important advertising person of the century.  The same publication named the agency’s Marlboro Man, Jolly Green Giant, Pillsbury Doughboy and Tony the Tiger among the top ten advertising icons of the century.  No other agency in the country had more than one in the list.

August 5, 1912 – As the new National Progressive Party with Theodore Roosevelt at its head is at the beginning of its rise, suffragettes parade through Chicago in recognition of the fact that the new party will carry a plank in its platform that advocates giving women the right to vote.  According to the Chicago Daily Tribune, “A crowd of many hundreds, flaunting banners and headed by a band, formed in front of the Art Institute and marched to the Coliseum.  It included women of every age and many stations in life.  There were gray haired grandmothers and young girls still with their schooling unfinished; mothers of families and old maids.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, August 5, 1912] So many women showed up for the parade that it was difficult to get the march organized.  At one point the main group of marchers was asked to move back about six feet.  Mrs. Catherine Waugh McCulloch, responding to the request, said, “What!  Retreat?  We never retreat!”  A squad of mounted police leads the procession, followed by a marching band, the band followed by a group of young women from the University of Chicago. The lead automobile carries Miss Jane Addams, Mrs. H. M. Wilmarth and Mrs. Isabella Blaney, a delegate from California.  Other cars follow, but the most impressive portion of the procession is made up of the ranks of women, many of whom have never been in a public march before.  One Methodist deaconess, Miss Estella Manley, says, “We are progressives and believe in suffrage because we see the necessity of a progressive movement in our work against the traffic in women.  No one realizes how ineffective a law can be and how much a community is in need of progressive lawmakers until one has done some uplift work in a community.”

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

August 4, 1902 -- Subway Needed in Chicago

August 4, 1902 – Aldermanic members of the City Council’s Local Transportation Committee return from an East Coast visit to three cities where they inspected subways and streetcar lines.  They all agree that a Chicago subway is a necessity as is an operating agreement between the different traction lines that carry passengers into the city.  The men speak glowingly of Boston’s unified management of streetcars.  Alderman Charles Werno says, “The service of New York and Boston is so much superior to that of Chicago that comparison is impossible.  The companies in these cities do not allow any passengers to stand on the front platform of a car; neither do they allow anyone to stand on the footboard.  Cars are run during the rush hours at intervals of twenty seconds.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, August 5, 1902].  Alderman Foreman adds, “The surface cars should handle the short haul, or local, traffic.  They should be a business auxiliary, a means of communication between business houses and offices downtown.  They should serve the same purpose as an elevator in a large building.  People who are through with their business downtown and ready to go home should be furnished with means of going without interfering with people who need the district for business purposes.”   Alderman Bennett is optimistic about the city building a subway with relative ease, “In New York the excavation had to be made through miles of solid rock.  I believe that a subway can be constructed in Chicago much cheaper, because the soil here can be more easily worked.  The work can be done more quickly.  Chicago can have a fine subway at a relatively small cost.  It is only a question of money.”  Bennett’s optimism must have faded as year piled upon year.  The city’s first subway would not open until October 17, 1943.
August 4, 1946 – The Auditorium Hotel and Theater are sold to Roosevelt College for $400,000 and a promise that the school would pay back taxes amounting to $1,300,000.  Edwin R. Embree, president of the Rosenwald Fund and chairman of the college board of trustees, and Edward J. Sparling, president of the college, say that the purchase will provide additional space for an increasing student population, boosted by the number of ex-service personnel returning to school.    Sparling says, “We had an enrollment of 2,500 last spring, and we’ll have that many in addition this fall.  Our quarters on Wells Street are inadequate, and we’re building now not only for this immediate present but for the future.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, August 4, 1946]. Sparling vows that the college will return the theater to its glory days.  He says, “The college will put the Auditorium theater, one of the great acoustical wonders of the world, into condition for public service.  Undoubtedly the school will use it, but the theater will be used for great theatrical and operatic productions and for rallies and meetings by the community.”  Roosevelt College, only a year in existence, was formed when a group of educators split from the Central Y.M.C.A. college with help from the Rosenwald fund and the Marshall Field Foundation.  Its plan is to turn the Auditorium Hotel into an instructional facility, combining rooms and suites to create classrooms and lecture halls.  With an optimistic budget of $500,000 to renovate the building, the college still has to deal with issues surrounding the land on which it is built.  Half the hotel and the area on which the Auditorium’s stage, orchestra pit, lobby and seats are located fall under the ownership of a group of investors who purchased the property in 1945, along with the Fine Arts Building to the north, for $750,000.  

August 4, 1928 – Plans for the 47-story One North La Salle Street are announced, a building in the art deco style to be built at the northeast corner of La Salle and Madison Streets.  It will replace the Tacoma building.  Work is expected to begin on May 1, according to K. M. Vitzhum and Co., the architects of the building.  Speculation is that the building will be seven feet shorter than the Pittsfield building on Washington Boulevard and six feet shorter than the First United Methodist Church of Chicago building on Washington and Clark, the two tallest buildings in the city.  The first eight floors of the building will be “artificially ventilated” to “reduce the ear strain caused by wailing taxicab brakes and the miscellaneous street uproar which supposedly blends into a soothing medley of sounds by the time it reaches the ninth floor.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, August 5, 1928] The Tacoma building, which will be razed, was completed in 1887, following the plans of Holabird and Roche, a tower that some claim to be the first metal-framed skeleton building in the world.  Below One North La Salle above is a photo of the Tacoma Building as it stood at the corner of La Salle and Madison.

August 4, 1903 -- President Foreman of the South Park Board receives a letter from Marshall Field in which the merchant and real estate baron shares his desire to move forward with his offer to pay for the Field Columbian Museum as soon as the lakefront ground is ready for the site.  In the letter Field writes, “I am ready to go forward with the building whenever materials and labor are at reasonable figures, which probably will be as soon as the ground is ready for building.  Regarding the exact location, I think that can be safely left to your board.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, August 5, 1903]  The site the park board ultimately chooses for the museum is exactly the location of today’s Buckingham Fountain, east of the railroad tracks and at the foot of Congress Street, extending north and south from Van Buren to Harrison.  Foreman responds to the offer, saying, “The Field museum will be the central gem in the greater Grant Park.  It will stand on a slight elevation, will be visible from all directions, and will present an especially imposing view.  The building, I am sure, will be the finest of its kind in the world.  Mr. Field is not in the habit of doing things half way or half-heartedly.”  Field would die in 1906, and it would be another 15 years after his death before his namesake museum would be opened after a decade of acrimony and lawsuits contesting the choice of the original site in Grant Park.   

Monday, August 3, 2020

August 3, 1978 -- State of Illinois Office Tower to Anchor Massive Redevelopment Project

Chicago Tribune Graphic
August 3, 1978 – The Chicago Tribune reports that Illinois governor James Thompson has approved $15 million in state funds to proceed with land acquisition and design of a new Chicago-based state office complex.  The new building, expected to replace an office facility at 160 North La Salle Street, will contain 1.3 million square feet of space and employ 4,000 state workers.  The governor also announces the formation of a committee that will advise the state on the best ways to finance the new structure.  On the same day that this announcement is made, developer Arthur Rubloff announces a two-block long project that will insert a shopping mall, hotel, apartments and a commercial tower in an area bounded by Wacker Drive on the north, State Street on the east, Washington Boulevard on the south, and Clark Street on the west.  Rubloff says, “This will be the foremost development ever undertaken in any city in the nation.  When completed in about five years, it will make the Loop the foremost downtown in the country.”  [Chicago Tribune, August 3, 1978]  According to Rubloff’s scheme every building except the 222 North Dearborn building and the Reliance building on State Street in a seven-block area will be demolished to make way for the new mixed-use complex.   Most of the area was eventually re-developed although it took decades for the process to unfold, and it ended up with a completely different vision, depicted in the above graphic, than Rubloff proposed in 1978. 

August 3, 1999 –Destruction of the Chicago Amphitheatre at 4220 South Halsted begins.  The huge exhibition arena opened in 1934 as a venue to exhibit and showcase the sheep, cattle and hogs that came through the Union Stock Yards.  The building was a miracle of construction.  When a disastrous fire, fed by 60-mile-per-hour winds, destroyed six square blocks around the stockyards on April 18, 1934, architect Abraham Epstein and his staff were asked to have another building in place by December 1 of the same year.  Using 11 solid steel arched trusses, at the time the largest in the world, the team had the building finished, complete with air conditioning and press and broadcast media facilities, just seven months after the disastrous fire. When the stockyards closed in 1971, the livestock shows moved south, and the aging building lost bookings to other, more modern – and far less pungent – facilities.  Over the years, though, events went far beyond livestock exhibitions.  The 1952 Republican National Convention chose General Dwight D. Eisenhower as its presidential nominee in the building.  That same year the Democratic Party chose Adlai Stevenson to oppose Eisenhower and repeated the decision in the Amphitheatre in 1956. The Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus brought its act to the arena for 18 years.  Musical acts from Roy Rogers and Dale Evans to The Rolling Stones and the Grateful Dead entertained crowds there.  The Beatles played at the arena on September 5, 1964 and returned to the big barn to perform before 13,000 fans on August 12, 1966. In May of 1999 the city announced that it had acquired the 12-acre-lot on which the building sits and would be using the space to expand the Stockyard Industrial Corridor, stretching from Ashland Avenue to Halsted Street and from Pershing Road to Forty-Seventh Street. The International Amphitheatre’s chief engineer for 31 years, 65-year-old Dutch Trentz, said, “I’ve had a lot of deaths in my family. But when they tear that place down, that one’s really going to hit me.  It’s history to you, but that’s life to me.” [Chicago Tribune, August 3, 1999]

August 3, 1906:  The Chicago Daily Tribune reports that at a recent meeting the trustees of the Art Institute of Chicago approved the purchase of El Greco’s “Assumption of the Virgin” for the price of $40,000.  The canvas, measuring 13 feet by two inches high and seven feet by six inches wide, will be the largest painting on display at the Art Institute.  It was commissioned by Don Diego de Castilla in 1577 as an altar piece for the convent church of San Domingo El Antiguo in Toledo, Spain.   The Art Institute today describes the priceless work in this way, “The artist’s use of flickering, high-keyed colors and broad brushwork further lend the work an ecstatic feeling sought after by Catholic Church patrons during the Counter-Reformation.  El Greco used such bold colors and figural arrangements to arouse a spiritual fervor in the viewer and impart the deep sense of faith he himself felt.”  The work may be found In Gallery 211 in the European Painting and Sculpture section.

August 3, 1884 – The Chicago Daily Tribune prints a letter from a Professor J. H. Long in which he describes the results of an “elaborate examination” [Chicago Daily Tribune, August 3, 1884] of the city’s drinking water.  “Our water is bad enough,” writes Professor Long, “but it might be a great deal worse.  Any one interested in the subject will find in Bridgeport eight large pumps at work night and day drawing water from the river and throwing it into the Illinois and Michigan Canal at the rate of 60,000 cubic feet per minute. By this means a current is created which carries the sewage of the south and main branches of the river away from the lake and into the canal running toward the Mississippi.”  The professor says that chemists usually consider three parts of “free” ammonia and five parts of “albuminoid” per hundred million parts of water “as limits beyond which the nitrogenous matter should not go” in water that is to be used for consumption.  At the State Street bridge a test found seven parts per million of free ammonia and seventy parts per million of albuminoid.  At the Bridgeport pumps there were found 200 parts per million of ammonia and 100 parts per million of albuminoid. The area that came to be known as Bubbly Creek yielded 500 parts per million of ammonia and 140 parts per million of alubuminoid. At this site the analysis revealed “a great variety of specimens of lower animal and vegetable life. The north side was not exempt. At the Fullerton Avenue bridge there were found 240 parts of free ammonia per million parts of water and 84 of albuminoid per million. “From whatever standpoint we take,” the professor writes, the North Branch appears to be an evil.” The conclusion of the study suggests that boiling and then filtration of water should be undertaken to ensure the health of the city’s populace.
August 3, 1879 – The Chicago Daily Tribune provides details of the tremendous growth that is occurring in the area around the Union Stock-Yards, first opened 14 years earlier.  The paper calls the population that has gravitated to the area “the largest industrial population gathered in any single industry in any one square mile in the world.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, August 3, 1879]. The three major producers in the Stock-Yards – Armour, Hutchinson, and Fowler – each employ more than 2,000 people working at 32 packing houses.  As many as 20,000 workers are employed as laborers, clerks, bookkeepers, and managers at the sprawling facility, some of these workers traveling four miles to get to the job.  Two new streets have been opened up and sidewalks and water distribution lines have been added to Paulina, Laflin, Loomis, Forty-Eighth and Forty-Ninth Streets.  A new church has been built at the corner of Laflin and Loomis, and a new brick school is going up four blocks north of the church.  Houses can be purchased for around $500 … the area lies outside the fire zone established after the 1871 fire, so the new homes are built of wood and are designed to be inexpensive. Lots sell for between $150 and $170 with most of the property and homes built with a workers’ available cash, free from any loans.  “The development of this industrial army,” the Tribune reports, “is the growth of Chicago in only one direction, and for only thirteen years.”  The above photo shows a typical neighborhood near the stockyards at the time of the Tribune article.

Sunday, August 2, 2020

August 2, 1978 -- Michigan Avenue Bridge Honored as National Engineering Landmark

August 2, 1978 –The American Society of Civil Engineers unveils a plaque at the Michigan Avenue bridge that celebrates the reversal of the Chicago River as a national engineering landmark. David Novick, the president of the society, says, “This monumental engineering feat contributed to the health and growth of Chicago, enabling it to develop into the great metropolitan area it is today.” [Chicago Tribune, August 3, 1978] Both Novick and Nicholas J. Melas, the president of the Metropolitan Sanitary District, accept the plaque on behalf of the district and the city. The ceremony takes place on the Ninety-Third anniversary of a rain storm that forced the sewage borne by the river far out into the lake, threatening the city’s fresh water intake cribs.
August 2, 1967 – The Second City opens its new playhouse on at 1616 North Wells Street with a revue of past successes, entitled “From the Second City.” It was December of 1959 when The Second City opened its doors for the first time just up the street at 1942 North Wells.  Bernie Sahlins, a genius in the field of improvisational theater, tells the story of the terra cotta portrait heads and arches that grace the front entrance of the theater in his book, Days and Nights at the Second City.  He wrote, “We were building a new theater and they were tearing down the Garrick.  I happened to wander over and saw the building being demolished.  I saw the heads over the second floor balcony of the building and was interested in them.  I spoke to the foreman and told him, ‘I wanted four heads and I didn’t care which four.’  He referred me to his boss and I negotiated the deal.”  It cost Sahlins $1,500 for the front entrance to a theater that would become legendary.  To read a really, really exhaustive piece on a quest to identify the individuals that are depicted in the four terra cotta pieces at the entryway, you can check this out. It’s fascinating.

August 2, 1934:  Led by Chief Investigator John O’Donnell, a police squad raids six villages at the Century of Progress World’s Fair and closes down two performances judged to be risqué.  Gambling wheels are confiscated at the exhibitions of Paris, Tunis, Ireland, Mexico and Spain and in a section called the Bowery.  At the last site an exhibition called “The Red Light Girls” is closed and a fan dancer, Faith Bacon, is forced to put on pants for her final appearance.   The general manager of the fair, Major Lenox R. Lohr, unleashes the police on the concessions after giving them a warning to clean up their act.  After allowing the sale of liquor at lunch counters within the grounds, agreeing to more signage within the grounds promoting attractions, and reducing the charges for electricity and garbage removal at venues, Lohr warns the vendors, “We’ll give you all the help within reason and more money will be spent by A Century of Progress during the month of August than has been spent in any month in 1934 or 1933 . . . but the lid is not off.”

JBartholomew Photo
August 2, 1891 – The Chicago Daily Tribune provides an update on the improvements that are ongoing at the new United States Army base at Fort Sheridan. The new barracks east of the water tower are being constructed in order to house two companies of the Fifteenth Regiment of infantry along with two companies of cavalry and two of artillery.  The cost of the new quarters will be $200,000, about $5,170,000 in today’s dollars.  Two “magnificent stables” are being built at a cost of $22,000 apiece or $569,000 in 2017 dollars.  Each stable will house 80 horses.  A main dining hall is also being built with room for 1,000 soldiers.  The cost of the building will be $48,000 or $1,242,000 in today’s dollars.  Four captains’ homes will be built near the lake at a cost of $9,000 or $235,000 for each in today’s dollars.  Finally, a 300-yard long Officers’ Club will be erected with separate quarters for a dozen officers.  This will cost $70,000 or $1,812,250 in 2017 dollars.  The land for the new garrison was purchased in 1887, and the Chicago architectural firm of Holabird and Roche selected to design the buildings.  One of the stables at the fort is shown in the above photo, these days a re-purposed residential building.