Friday, January 18, 2019

January 18, 1972 -- Chicago Water Poisoning Plot Foiled

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January 18, 1972 –A heavy cordon of police is stationed around two water filtration plants after two young men are arrested and charged with plotting to poison the city’s water supply with typhoid bacteria.  Charged with conspiracy to commit murder are Allen C. Schwander, 19, and Steven Para, 18. Both men are arrested in an apartment on Fairfield Avenue in Evanston.  States Attorney Edward V. Hanrahan says, “Investigation disclosed that an organization called ‘RISE’, of which Schwander and Pera were organizers, had allegedly planned poisoning water supplies and spreading deadly diseases in Illinois and elsewhere. Member of ‘RISE’ were allegedly to be inoculated and immunized enabling them to survive … and to form the basis of a new master race.” [Chicago Tribune, January 19, 1972]  Deputy Police Superintendent James Rochford reassures the public, saying, “There is no evidence at this time that these people [the two arrested] have the ability or capability to carry out the act.”  Mayor Richard J. Daley underscores Rochford’s declaration.  “The city’s water is safe and all necessary steps to protect the water in the future will be taken,” Daley says.  Bond for the two men is set at $250,000 for each.



January 18, 1954 – The Vice-President of the Columbia Broadcasting System, H. Leslie Atlass, announces that the network has purchased the Chicago Arena at 630 McClurg Court for $1,500,000 and plans to convert it into a “television city.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, January 19, 1954] Four studios will occupy 50,000 of the 87,000 square feet in the facility. The remainder of the space will be used for scenery and maintenance shops, storage areas and facilities for film processing.  WBBM-TV will then vacate its current studios at the State-Lake building at 190 North State Street and the Garrick Theater at 64 West Randolph Street within the year.  The Chicago Arena, designed by architect A. N. Rebori, was used for ice reviews, tennis matches and other sporting events. It was finished in 1924 at a cost of $800,000 and was originally called the Chicago Riding Club.  The building achieved a historic milestone on September 26, 1960 when John F. Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon met in the first televised presidential debate in history.  The building was demolished in 2009, and in December of that year the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago bought the site.  On March 25, 2017 the Institute opened the new building, the $550 million Shirley Ryan AbilityLab on the site, serving patients who need extended care and rehabilitation services after they leave traditional hospitals.  The Chicago Arena is pictured in the black and white photo above.  The new AbilityLab is shown on the site in the photo below that.


January 18, 1951 – Virgil E. Gunlock, the Chicago Commissioner of Subways and Super-highways, announces that Herlihy Mid-Continental Construction is the lowest of five bidders on the project to extend Wacker Drive between Madison and Washington Streets.  The company submits a bid of $1,076,493 for the work.  This will be the third of eight blocks in the 12.5 million dollar project to construct the two-level extension of Wacker Drive from Lake Street to its connection with the Congress Expressway to the south, which is itself in the final stages of construction.  The Market Street stub of the elevated line, pictured above, ran south along the route of Wacker Drive, formerly Market Street, and had to be removed in order for the project to be completed.


January 18, 1945 -- Agreement is reached between Chicago and airline officials in a plan to build a new terminal building at the city airport, today's Midway International Airport. Scaled way back from what once was proposed as an elaborate $1,750,000 terminal, the new proposal called for a building about 1,400 feet long, costing $470,000. The airlines agree to bear the cost of the new building, along with loading areas, taxiways, and parking places, getting the city to repay the investment by remitting the cost of landing fees over a period of ten years. The city architect, Paul Gerhardt, Jr., will design the building. Each of the eight airlines using the airport agree to rent space at $2 a foot, and a share of the cost of construction will be assessed each air line based on the ratio of its scheduled flights.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

January 17, 1909 -- Chicago and North Western Plans Lead to Razing of Four Square Blocks

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January 17, 1909 –The Chicago Daily Tribune reviews “the greatest wrecking operation that ever was carried out in Chicago,” [Chicago Daily Tribune, January 17, 1909] the demolition of four square blocks bounded by Canal, Clinton, Fulton and Madison Streets. Beginning on May 2, 1907 a hundred individual structures that housed more than 500 businesses were leveled within 18 months to make way for the new passenger terminal for the Chicago and North Western Railroad.  Two months before the operation began, three men, working for the Garden City Wrecking Company, inspected every building in the area, in an attempt to assemble an accurate bid for the work.  Leading the list of salvageable material that the appraisers found was lumber worth between $400,000 and $500,000.  The Tribune reports the buildings held “… old joists, beams, and stringers of cork pine that the lumber market today could not equal in quality and sizes.  Timbers twenty odd feet in length without a knot to mar them were the rule.  Forty years ago this pine – now almost extinct – could be bought for $12 a thousand feet; today such pine will sell for $150 a thousand.”  Over a hundred workers spent 18 months clearing the area, hauling away millions of tons of material from the 13-acre site.  The Ogilvie Transportation Center at the bottom of the highlighted rectangle now anchors the section of the city that was cleared in 1909.  It replaced the Chicago and North Western terminal that was demolished in 1984.


January 17, 1920 – Chicago wakes up to the realization that the day of the hangover is gone as Prohibition begins at midnight.  On the previous day “auto trucks were at a premium during the late afternoon and early evening” [Chicago Daily Tribune, January 17, 1920] as individuals pursued the last chance to buy liquor for home consumption and transport it to their homes.  Major A. V. Dalrymple, the “head of the prohibition enforcers” promises that no effort will begin at enforcing the new law for ten days. “Of course I don’t mean that you can sell the stuff tomorrow,” he says. “Far from it. But we will not start any search of seizure until this ten day period has passed.”


January 17, 1915 – South Halsted Street between Polk and Madison Streets becomes a battle ground as 1,500 unemployed men, women, boys and girls battle the police.  According to the Chicago Daily Tribune, “Shots were fired, clothes were torn, eyes blackened, and heads cracked while clubs, blackjacks, and revolver butts were used with bruising effect on heads, arms and knuckles” as the “hunger procession” proceeded up Halsted Street.  [Chicago Daily Tribune, January 18, 1915] The battle occurs after a meeting of the unemployed at Bowen Hall at the Hull House settlement.  Two detectives inside the hall, dressed as unemployed workmen, listen as Lucy Parsons, the widow of Albert Parsons, who was hanged for alleged complicity in the Haymarket Riot of 1886, speaks.  The detectives, Sergeants Fred Krueger and Herman Eastman, report that trouble is brewing.  Frist Deputy Superintendent of Police Herman Schuettler, who himself was at his post during the Haymarket riot, orders, “Demand a permit from them, and if they haven’t got one order them to disperse. The reserves will be on the way to help you.” A procession forms on Polk Street, just west of Halsted and begins to march, six people abreast, up Halsted, carrying a large black banner with one word, “Hunger,” displayed in white letters.  The police order the marchers to disperse, but the marchers continue onward, a voice crying out, “To h___ with the orders.  We’re hungry!”  The policemen, small in number and waiting for reinforcements, are surrounded.  According the paper’s reporter, “In a minute the cluster under the swaying ‘hunger’ banner was a maelstrom of fists and clubs.  Girls and women shrieked and fell to the ground in the fray.  A small, dark haired girl, climbing on to the shoulders of a man, dove head foremost into the center of the fight, her fingers reaching out for the eyes and hair of the policemen … The detectives drew their revolvers and began to lay to right and left, felling all within reach … Women threw their arms around the necks of the plain clothes men, biting them and tearing their faces with finger nails.”  On the marchers move, coming up to a phalanx of policemen at Harrison Street; the procession breaches the line and continues north to Adams Street where they encounter mounted officers.  On they continue to Monroe Street.  Battered at each new block “the ranks of the marchers were becoming noticeably thinned.  Those remaining appeared to be the more vindictive who had succeeded in fighting their way through.”  Finally, at Madison Street the marchers find themselves surrounded, and many of those who are left “made for doorways, alleys, saloons, lunch rooms, and basements, where they mingled with the surprised patrons and escaped.”  At each intersection along the route of the march arrests are made, and those taken prisoner charged with rioting, unlawful assemblage and parading without a license.  At the conclusion of the festivities the Tribune reports, “Halsted street looked like an armed camp with squads of police stationed at the corners and mounted men patrolling the middle of the street.”  Mrs. Lucy Parsons is shown above, missing a glove, after her arrest.


January 17, 1903 -- Judge Arthur Chetlain sentences George Wellington "Cap" Streeter to an indeterminate term in the penitentiary at Joliet for manslaughter for the killing of John S. Kirk on February 11, 1902 in the "District of Lake Michigan." The dead man had been a watchman for Henry W. Cooper, a man lakefront property owners had engaged to protect their interests on the north side of the river near Oak Street. "Cap" Streeter was not personally connected to the scene where the killing occurred; he was held responsible because testimony indicated that he had told the occupants of the district that if anyone "came fooling' around" to shoot him. After being found guilty in December 3, 1892, Streeter said, ""They found us guilty but it only goes to show that when a lot of millionaires get together and get the help of the state the liberty of a man ain't safe. This whole thing is a scheme." The captain and his missus are pictured above.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

January 16, 1976 -- Wieboldt's Closes the Book on Green Stamps

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January 16, 1976 –The management of Wieboldt Stores announces that distribution of Green Stamps with purchases will end in two weeks.  The chain of department stores has been distributing the stamps since 1957, and all redemption centers for the stamps in the Chicagoland area are in Wieboldt’s stores.  Arthur K. Muenze, the president of the company, says the stamps will be discontinued because “public interest in them has decreased and they are no longer effective in attracting customers to the stores.” [Chicago Tribune, January 17, 1976] A spokesman for Sperry and Hutchinson Co., which distributes the stamps, confirms that redemption centers in nine Wieboldt stores will close by the end of January.  “There is no need for panic or for anyone to rush in and redeem their stamps before they want to.  We’re in good shape as a company.  We’re not going to leave anybody high and dry,” the spokesman says.  


January 16, 1892 – The Chicago Daily Tribune reports that the Executive Committee of the Interstate Exposition Board of Directors has agreed to sell its massive buidling on Michigan Avenue to the Art Institute for $2,100.  This guarantees, the paper reports, “ … the doom of the old structure.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, January 16, 1892] Representatives of the Art Institute say that a check will be issued immediately and within ten days demolition of the Interstate Exposition Building will begin.  The huge building east of Michigan Avenue occupied the site of the present Art Institute of Chicago for 20 years and was designed by Chicago architect W. W. Boyington.  It provided a place for exhibitors to display their products and also served as an Illinois National Guard Armory, as well as the site of political conventions in 1880 and 1884.  It was also the first home of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.


January 16, 1925 – At the closing session of a two-day conference of the Great Lakes Harbor Association 300 delegates from 80 cities located on the Great Lakes pass a resolution that requests the United States Secretary of War "to require of the sanitary district of Chicago the installation, within a reasonable length of time, of a modern system of sewage disposal and protested against any legislation that may sanction diversions affecting the water levels of the great lakes.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, January 17, 1925] The resolution reads, “With an astounding disregard for the rights of her neighbors and in defiance of all precepts of law and justice, under the pretext that the sanitary welfare of that city made the dilution system of sewage disposal necessary, Chicago has for twenty years been abstracting the waters of the great lakes in great quantities.  This abstraction of water has on the one hand caused the lowering of the levels of the lakes to the injury of commerce thereon, and on the other the raising of the levels of the Illinois river to the injury of the land owners of that region.  The sewage which Chicago by virtue of its sanitation system is thus carrying into the Illinois river is polluting the waters of that stream to an alarming degree.”  Officials of the sanitary district plan to leave for Washington within two days “to face the interests which would prevent the city from diverting 10,000 cubic feet of water per second from the lake for sanitary purposes.”


January 16, 1945 -- In one of the worst fires to hit Chicago in a quarter-century 14 people are killed and 8 injured in a fire at the General Clark Hotel at 217 North Clark Street. The night manager of the hotel states that 76 people were registered when the fire started just after midnight. It was brought under control three hours later, after three people had jumped into firemen's nets and a dozen others had been rescued by ladders.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

January 15, 1964 -- Navy Pier Looks to the Future

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January 15, 1964 –Mayor Richard J. Daley announces that he has asked city planners to begin a study that examines the future of Navy Pier after the University of Illinois departs in late 1965. Daley says that thought should be given to using the pier as a recreation center, tying it into a new park that will be built just to the west of the pier and adjacent to the filtration plant to the north.  The mayor also says that a 920-foot observation tower that was proposed in October, 1963 as a tourist attraction cannot be built at the pier because its height would interfere with airplanes approaching Meigs Field to the south.  The above photo from the early 1960's with ships from all over the world lined up shows that at this time Navy Pier was still an important port of entry and a significant source of revenue for the city.



January 15, 1882 – The Chicago Daily Tribune reports that the Archbishop of Chicago has sold the entire lot on Lake Shore Drive between Burton Place and Schiller Street to Potter Palmer for $90,695.  The paper reports, “A concerted effort will now be made by Mr. Palmer and the other property owners to fill up all the depressions between State street and the Lake-Shore drive and lift this property into its rightful place as the choicest kind of residence property, not surpassed by any in the city.”  Palmer’s faith in the area which “is almost virgin ground, and is almost entirely free from objectionable buildings and improvements” is ample evidence that the part of the north side “which lies between the Water-Works and Lincoln Park, and is east of Dearborn street, is rapidly rising in public favor.”  The mansion of Potter and Bertha Palmer, which has been gone now for 68 years, would be built on the corner of Banks Street and Lake Shore Drive.  Designed by Henry Ives Cobb and Charles Frost, it would be the largest private residence in the city when finished in 1885.  Today 1350 and 1360 Lake Shore Drive stand on the lot.  The mansion and the residential buildings are shown above.


January 15, 1916 – The “Foolkiller,” a submarine that has been embedded in the mud at the bottom of the Chicago River at Wells Street yields a grisly find upon its being raised – the skull of a dog and the bones of a man.  The small submersible was originally built in the early 1870’s but had not been seen in a quarter-century. A diver for the Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Company, William Deneau, discovers the craft somewhat earlier while working in the effort to locate bodies from the ill-fated Eastland, the steamer that had capsized six months earlier.  The identity of the victim found aboard the submarine was never discovered, and there is even some conjecture that the bones might have been planted aboard as part of a scheme to place the whole tableau on public exhibition.  That happened shortly thereafter as customers could pay a dime to see the exhibit at 208 South State Street, a display that was moved at least twice – to Oelwein, Iowa where it was  billed “The Submarine or Fool Killer, the first submarine ever built,” It shared the exhibit space among other top draws, including “The Electric Girl, The Vegetable King, [and] Snooks, the smallest monkey in the world” [mysteriouschicago.com]  The Fool Killer was last heard of when it appeared at Chicago’s Riverview Park where it sat forlornly while the “Last Days of Pompeii,” a “gorgeous fireworks spectacle” with 600 performers was staged alongside the river at Western and Belmont.


January 15, 1954 -- The Chicago city council authorizes the purchase of the Reid-Murdoch building at 325 N. State Street in order to consolidate traffic courts and the police traffic division. The matter had been pending since November 3 when voters authorized a 4 million dollar bond issue for acquiring the building and remodeling it. More on the history of the Reid-Murdoch building can be found here: http://www.connectingthewindycity.com/…/reid-murdoch-buildi… and here: http://www.connectingthewindycity.com/…/reid-murdoch-buildi…

Monday, January 14, 2019

January 14, 1969 -- Chicago Loop, Fifty Years Down the Road

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January 14, 1969 – An interesting article in the Chicago Tribune fifty years ago makes predictions about what Chicago’s Loop will look like in the century that is to come.  Noting that “Confidence in the Loop’s future already has been expressed by public and private investors,” [Chicago Tribune, January 14, 1969] the article begins with a look at downtown transportation.  “A new subway system will speed and extend public transportation thruout the downtown area … Only historical markers will remain to mark the elevated structure that once defined the Loop and gave it its name,” the article states.  State Street will be “a curious combination of past and present,” with the Carson Pirie Scott building “proudly standing among newer, taller neighbors.”  The street will still be “the retail king,” but once the elevated structure is removed on Wabash Avenue that street will also become “a shopper’s delight.”  Shoppers will browse in “huge commercial concourses … along the two levels of the new subway system” which will feature “moving sidewalks, and, perhaps, electric trains.” The article gets this one right – “West Madison street, fortified by new skyscrapers, will shed its skid row past and become the western heart of the new Loop,” bolstering the claim with a statement from the president of the Mid-City National Bank, E. M. Bakwin, who says, “I can see Madison-Canal expanding north and south as a major complex. I can see it as a new Rockefeller center.”  The Tribune predicts accurately that development of the Illinois Center area will “extend over nearly 50 acres along the Chicago river between Michigan avenue and the lakefront.  It will provide working quarters for thousands and homes for 35,000 apartment dwellers.”  Not quite accurate is the prediction that in this area “Autos will be barred from the surface to underground levels where workers and residents will find transit service … As the Loop enters the 21st Century and its complex public transit system of subways, moving sidewalks, and walk-ways is completed, the last private auto will leave the Loop and be banished forever.”  As the above photo shows the much in the Loop -- and beyond -- has changed, but the el is still rattling along.


January 14, 1924 – The commissioners of the South Park Board convene in a special session to accept the donation of a fountain for Grant Park from Miss Kate Buckingham, the fountain to be built in honor of her brother, Clarence Buckingham.  Miss Buckingham contributes $250,000 for the construction of the fountain with another $135,000 set aside in a trust fund for its maintenance.  The fund will be administered by the Art Institute of Chicago.  The fountain opened to the public on May 26, 1927.  The Chicago Park District’s description of the fountain, the centerpiece of Grant Park, the city’s “front yard,” includes the following: “An important Chicago art patron and philanthropist, Kate Sturges Buckingham (1858 – 1937) was the last member of the Buckingham family.  Originally from Zanesville, Ohio, the Buckingham family made its fortune in grain elevators, real estate and steel.  Kate and her brother Clarence Buckingham (1854 – 1913) were both avid art collectors and benefactors who donated valuable prints, paintings, sculptures, and objects to the Art Institute of Chicago… Architect Edward H. Bennett of the firm Bennett, Parsons and Frost, designed the fountain and French artist Marcel Loyau produced the sculptural elements.  Architects Jacques Lambert and Clarence W. Farrier served as associates on the project.  The fountain is composed of pink Georgia marble, with some granite elements, and bronze sculptures. During the planning phases, Kate Buckingham expressed a wish that the fountain’s lighting tshould emulate ‘soft moonlight.’ According to an early Chicago Park District brochure, ‘though advanced in years,’ Miss Buckingham ‘worked night after night with technicians, trying out various colors of glass and adjusting the control of electric current’ to produce ‘blends… that pleased her— and indeed, there is a mystical aura around the lighted fountain suggesting moonlight— in fairyland.’”  The above photo shows the fountain under construction in 1925.    


January 14, 1898 – Another chapter in the continuing story of Aron Montgomery Ward and the area we today know as Grant Park unfolds as Ward reacts strongly to a plan that would see a great exposition hall built in the park, a project that would receive city abatement of ground fees, taxes and assessments.  Ward minces no words, saying, “To erect a large building [in the park] would be doing an injustice to those who have spent millions in erecting fine buildings and halls throughout the city … They have paid their fair and full proportion of taxes and assessments for years, and their investments in assembly halls have not paid them 2 per cent.  Now they can see their way, with the increased population and the evident return of prosperity to the country, to make simply the interest on their investments … Why should this great octopus be given land with no ground rent to pay and free from taxes and assessment? … It is one of the biggest schemes ever sprung on the citizens and taxpayers of Chicago.  All others pale before it.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, January 15, 1898]  One day maybe someone will gather the funds to erect a statue to Ward in the park on the lakefront.  In his continuing battle to protect the property, he did more than anyone else to keep it open, clear and free so that we might enjoy its many benefits today.  The area under consideration for the new exposition hall is pictured above.


January 14, 1927 -- The report of George M. Wisner's testimony before Charles Evans Hughes, special master of the United States Supreme Court, is printed. Eisner, the consulting engineer for the Chicago sanitary district, attempted to answer the demands of Wisconsin and five other Great Lakes states seeking an injunction that stopped water diversion from Lake Michigan into the Chicago River. Eisner recounted what life in Chicago was like before the river was flushed with lake water. He said, "The Chicago river was a pest hole of typhoid and intestinal disease germs . . . It was a big septic tank festering on the bottom and sending upwards dangerous poisonous gases. The crust of filth sometimes became so thick that a chicken could walk across the river. At other times the crust caught fire." To avoid a return to those days, Wisner asserted that a maximum of 10,000 cubic feet of lake water per second was needed to cleanse the river. Chicago lost the battle when the Supreme Court decreed on April 21, 1930 that the diversion of lake water be gradually reduced to 1,500 cubic feet per second by December 31, 1938. The photo above pictures the river as it looked about the time Wisner offered his testimony.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

January 13, 1913 -- Montgomery Ward Sells Last Michigan Avenue Property

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January 13, 1913 –A “syndicate of State Street merchants” [Chicago Daily Tribune, January 14, 1913] pays $1,300,000 for the Montgomery Ward headquarters building at the corner of Michigan Avenue and Madison Street, ending Ward’s presence on Michigan Avenue and his role as the “watchdog of the lake front.”  William C. Thorne, the company’s vice-president, says, “It was company property, not the property of Mr. Ward individually.  The sale should hardly be a surprise so far as it marks the passing of Mr. Ward as the ‘lake front watchdog,’ for he is in advancing years and is withdrawing from active affairs rapidly.”  The sale of the tower is the last of three property transfers by the company since August, covering property along Michigan Avenue from Madison to Washington.  In August property at 12-22 North Michigan Avenuee was sold for $1,295,000. A month later a group headed up by architect Jarvis Hunt purchased property at the southwest corner of Michigan Avenue and Washington Street for $1,100,000.  Designed by the architectural firm of Schmidt, Garden and Martin, the latest sale is of a tower that was the tallest building in the city when it opened in 1899. The 12-story building originally had a ten-story tower topped by a three-story pyramidal roof, a temple and a 22.5-foot statute, The Spirit of Progress, but the top section of the building was demolished in 1947.  Today it sits toward the north end of the city’s Historic Michigan Boulevard District and has been converted into a residential building.  The original tower at 6 North Michigan Avenue is shown in the black and white photo.  A truncated version of the tower is shown in the present-day condominium building below that.



January 13, 1961 – Chief Judge William J. Campbell of the Federal District Court and John W. Chapman, Jr., the head of the Chicago offices of the General Services Administration, pry a brick from the wall of the Great Northern Theater at 26 West Jackson Boulevard, signaling the beginning of demolition work that will clear the site for a new 30-story federal building.  The 30-story courthouse, with Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, the lead designer, directing a team of Chicago architecture firms that included Schmidt, Garden and Erickson, A. Epstein and Sons, and C. F. Murphy Associates, will be finished in 1964. It will the first of three federal buildings to sit on a two-block site east and west of Dearborn Street and between Jackson Boulevard and Adams Street on the north and south. The Great Northern Theater is shown in the black and white photo above.  The Great Northern Hotel on the left side of the photo was designed by Daniel Burnham and John Root and opened in 1892.  It was demolished in 1940.  The office building and theater on the right and was designed after John Root's death.  While they stood, the two buildings enclosed the largest interior court in the city.  The Dirksen Federal Courthouse, which stands on the site today, is shown in the second photo.


January 13, 1890 -- The Chicago Daily Tribune continues its crusade against the conditions on the Chicago River, especially the area we know today as Bubbly Creek.  The paper reports, “There is no perceptible current in it, and for fifteen years, it is claimed, the refuse from the packing houses has been accumulating in it.   In summertime silver coin in the pockets of tugmen turns black as the tugs plow through the mass of decaying matter…a novice who takes a tug ride to the South Fork for the fun of the thing never takes another.  If he recovers from the first trip in a week and can smell clean again he is extremely lucky.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, January 13, 1890]   Some aldermen propose doing nothing, saying that the area around the South Fork is mostly occupied by glue factories, rendering plants, and slaughterhouses.  Says one alderman, “Why not let the South Fork, with its awful filth, alone?  No one scarcely, except the people who are responsible for the filth, is near the South Fork.”  The problem, though, is that under the right conditions – a heavy rainstorm or rapid snow melt – the whole mess overflows into the river and is carried to the lake.  In July of the preceding summer, after a particularly violent storm, a steamship captain reported that he could trace the mess from the South Fork to the breakwater and from there to a half-mile beyond the intake crib that provided the city with fresh, clean water.  What to do?  One plan is to allow the packers to continue dumping their stinking brew into the South Fork if they agree to pay for pumping works to send the mess away from the city and into the I & M Canal.  The paper takes the simplicity of the plan to task for two reasons: (1) that this solution would mean “that the people of the Illinois River Valley must endure what Chicago gets rid of”; and (2) “if the packers are allowed to use the canal for this refuse the city will be crowded out from sending its legitimate sewage that way, and would be compelled to go to an extremely heavy expense in straightening out the Desplaines River and dredging the Ogden Ditch.”  Without parsing the difference between “legitimate sewage” and “illegitimate sewage”, It will be ten years before one of the great engineering projects in United States history sees the river reversed and sent westward away from the lake and the city’s drinking water. Not even that great project, though, will make a difference to the terrible toxic soup that was the South Fork.


January 13, 1941 -- In a meeting of 100 civic and industrial leaders at the Chicago Club, the inauguration of a $3 million development program by the Illinois Institute of Technology is announced. With an enrollment of 7,000 students, the largest engineering school in the country had been formed just six months earlier with the merger of Lewis Institute of Arts and Sciences with the Armour Institute. At the gathering Wilfred Sykes of Inland Steel makes it clear that the city's continuing development dependson its having a great engineering school, saying, "Over 20,000 engineers are employed in the Chicago industrial area. The increase in the rate of employment of engineers in Chicago exceeds that of any other city in the United States, and the number of engineers in Chicago in comparison to the total number of industrial workers exceeds that of any other city."

Saturday, January 12, 2019

January 12, 1935 -- Commodore Vanderbilt on Display

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January 12, 1935 –Officials estimate that 20,000 people at the La Salle Street Station view the Commodore Vanderbilt, a streamlined steam locomotive on the New York Central Railroad.  Members of the Chicago Association of Commerce and railroad officials are on hand to greet the locomotive as it arrives straight form the railroad’s shops at New Albany, New York.  It is scheduled to be on display for two days before leaving for Detroit and another two weeks of exhibitions.  The 4,075-horsepower passenger locomotive was re-manufactured in the New York Central shops, receiving “an outer streamline cowling of gun metal.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, January 13, 1935]  Officials report that in wind tunnel tests between 70 and 90 miles an hour the streamlined locomotive reduced wind resistance by 30 percent over conventional locomotives.  The Commodore Vanderbilt went into revenue service in February, 1935, pulling the prestigious Twentieth Century Limited between Chicago and Toledo.  After a tussle with a sand truck at an East Chicago crossing in 1945 the streamlining was removed, and the locomotive was scrapped during the 1950’s.



January 12, 1951 – Four Chicago firefighters lose their lives and seven other firefighters and two civilians are injured in a fire and subsequent explosion at a four-story warehouse and office building at 320 North La Salle Street.  The fire begins in the lower portion of the 75-year-old building with the first alarm turned in at 2:04 p.m. Ultimately 68 pieces of equipment are brought to the scene, and the La Salle Street bridge remains open for 54 hours to allow fireboats to operate on the river.  Within 30 minutes of the first alarm the fire spreads through the elevator shafts of the building, setting off an explosion that blows out a wall, toppling it onto firefighters using hose lines on fire escapes and ladders in an adjacent alley. Lieutenant John Schuberth of Engine 42, Firefighter John P. Gleason, also of Engine 42, Firefighter Henry T. Dyer of Engine 11 and Chicago Insurance Patrol Firefighter Patrick Milott lose their lives in battling a blaze that keeps fire crews on the scene for several days.  Today 300 North La Salle, a glitzy high-rise designed by Pickard-Chilton, occupies the site.  Note in the photo of the modern building the 1912 building designed by Gustav Hallberg still sits on the river to the west.


January 12, 1881 – The Chicago Daily Tribune reports that Mr. John D. Parker has been successful in “obtaining the signatures of all the property-owners on La Salle street as far north as Madison, and also of three or four between Madison and the river, to a petition to the City Council urging that body to declare vacant that portion of La Salle street between Jackson and Van Buren.”  Parker is a prime mover in the effort to re-locate the Board of Trade to the property that the petition concerns.  Three other sites are possibilities for the new headquarters – one on Wabash Avenue between Van Buren and Harrison; another at the corner of State Street and Van Buren; and the third on the block bounded by Jackson, Van Buren and Third and Fourth Streets.  How different any of these areas – especially the site Parker and his allies favored – would look today if the critics of the plan had found a sympathetic hearing at City Hall and the politicians had refused to go along with the plan.  In a little over four years the vacated section of La Salle Street would give rise to the 1885 Board of Trade building, the opening of which is heralded in the announcement pictured above.


January 12, 1924 -- D. C. Davies, director of the Field Museum of Natural History for ten years, announces that the museum's new building has been completed. The original four million dollar gift of Marshall Field had, with interest, grown to $6,300,000 which was somewhat less than the cost of the seven million dollar building south of Grant Park. The shortage was made up with donations from some of the wealthiest members of Chicago society -- Captain Marshall Field, Stanley Field, N. W. Harris, James Simpson, and Edward E. Ayer. The architectural firm that designed the beaux arts building on the lakefront, Graham, Anderson, Probst & White, also made a contribution. More than a quarter-century after it was first proposed, after years of political wrangling over its location, the museum was finally complete