Friday, November 17, 2017

November 17, 1908 -- Commercial Club Revises Michigan Avenue Proposal

November 17, 1908 – The Commercial Club of Chicago offers a new plan for a connection between the north and south side to the Board of Local Improvements.  The plan diverges from earlier plans in that it offers “a wider boulevard, 240 feet north of Randolph street, a lower elevation at its highest point, access to the roadway from the buildings along the elevated roadway … and a double street with a double-decked bridge across the river.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, November 17, 1908] The 90-foot wide bridge will be able to run at a right angle to the river, connecting Beaubien Court on the south side of the river to Pine Street on the north. The  official statement of the Commercial Club reads, “Congestion in the heart of Chicago could be relieved if certain streets were much widened and improved.  It is clear, however, that none of the streets in the district bounded by Van Buren street, Michigan avenue, and the river can ever be appreciably broadened … Michigan avenue, already a wide street, and easily widened still more in Grant park, must then be the great base of street circulation in Chicago, the foundation of a system of encircling and bisecting highways … The conclusion is plain: Michigan avenue is probably destined to carry the heaviest movement of any street in the world.  Any boulevard connection in Michigan avenue which fails to recognize the basic importance of Michigan avenue will be a waste of money.” The statement sets the stage for the next big contribution that the Commercial Club will make to city planning, the great Chicago Plan of 1909.  “A special investigation made under our direction,” the statement reads, “discloses the fact that the people of Chicago have, during the last twenty-five years, expended no less that $222,000,000 in permanent improvements.  It is estimated that not less than 40 per cent of this vast sum has been wasted because specific improvements were made without reference to a comprehensive city plan, and were, therefore, found to be inadequate … This great improvement will come because it is part of a plan which provides a basis of street circulation and which will weld and unify the three detached sides of Chicago; because it improves facilities for commercial traffic and at the same time preserves for the people the uninterrupted use of their greatest and most attractive highway.”  Criticism arrives quickly as the Michigan Avenue Improvement Association issues a statement saying in part, “… we shall not regard any elevated structure as less than a monumental and wasteful blunder.”  The above photo shows Michigan Avenue as it appeared in 1902.

November 17, 1965 – McCormick Place celebrates its fifth birthday as the building’s general manager, Edward J. Lee, announces that 17,013,515 people have been through the facility since it first opened its doors.  Events open to the public account for 41.8 per cent of the attendance while commercial, industrial, trade and professional shows account for 32.3 per cent.  The exhibition hall’s Arie Crown Theater did not open until the spring of 1961, but it still drew 2,174,510 people. The largest attendance for any one event in the hall was for the Billy Graham Greater Chicago Crusade in 1962, which drew 44,840 people.  Also notable was the first stockholders’ meeting ever held outside of New York City for the American Telephone and Telegraph Company in April of 1961.  On that occasion 18,458 stockholders attended the annual event, and each of them was served lunch.  It would be only 14 months before two-thirds of the great convention hall on the lake would be destroyed in less than 45 minutes in a devastating fire.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

November 16, 1953 -- Clark and Dearborn Become One-Way Streets

November 16, 1953 – At 6:00 a.m. Dearborn and Clark Streets become one way roadways with Clark used for southbound traffic from Kinzie Street to Harrison while Dearborn will handle northbound traffic from Polk to Hubbard Streets.  The city’s commissioner of streets and sanitation, Lloyd M. Johnson, says that the new one-way streets will help increase the flow of traffic through the Loop.  The above photos show Dearborn Street in 1953, looking south from Hubbard and the same street as it appears today.

November 16, 1892 – With 29 miles of the land for the proposed Sanitary and Ship Canal channel from the Chicago River to within a mile of Lockport under contract, the board of the Chicago Sanitary District considers a motion to appoint a board of consulting engineers to find answers to four pressing issues.  They include:  (1) “the disposal of flood waters from all drainage areas which materially mollify or affect the sanitary condition of the district; (2) the supplemental works and measures within the limits of the Sanitary District best adapted to create a sanitary condition of the same, special reference being had to the exclusion of sewage from the lake and the proper sanitation of the North Branch and tributary territory; (3) the supplemental works and inlets necessary to furnish the main drainage channel with a supply of water from the lake sufficient to fill the requirements of the Sanitary District law in view of the present and probably future population of the district and in view of any incidental and commercial features which may contribute to the best interests of the Sanitary District and the City of Chicago; and (4) the works and treatment needed between the lower end of the Section 14 above Lockport and Lake Joliet to properly dispose of the water brought down by the main channel in addition to the flood water, said works being considered with reference to the ultimate necessity of the General Government constructing a navigable channel throughout the reach connecting with the main channel of the sanitary district and to any incidental commercial advantages which the situation presents.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, December 17, 1892]  In short, the process of reversing the flow of the Chicago River, a project that will consume eight years, has begun.  The above photo shows the great canal under construction four years later in 1906.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

November 15, 1953 -- Edgewood Junior High School Dedicated in Highland Park

November 15, 1953 – Dedication of the $1 million Edgewood Junior High School is held in Highland Park. Although the school has been open since September, this is the first chance that the public has had to view the facility which was for a number of years the subject of considerable debate in the north shore community.  A referendum for the school was first approved in 1948, but the Voters League protested the construction of the school at the time, asserting that the student population of School District 108 was not growing as quickly as had been anticipated.  A second referendum was approved in October, 1951 and construction finally kicked off in July of 1952.  With an enrollment of 487 students it is expected that the new school will meet the needs of the expanding Sherwood Forest section as well as other developments in the southern section of the town for the next five years.

November 15, 1931 – Chicago Airport, today’s Midway International Airport, opens in ceremonies held in front of the new $100,000 passenger terminal at Sixty-Second Street and Cicero Avenue.  The head of the Illinois Aeronautics Commission, Reed G. Landis, presents Mayor Anton Cermak with the state’s first state airport license.  Also on hand are M. C. Meigs, the chairman of the Chicago Aero Commission and Walter Wright, the city’s superintendent of parks and aviation, the man who led the construction of the $774,000 airport.  The highlight of the event is the demonstration of the use of in-flight radio as Pilot S. J. Nelson of United Airlines flies over the airport and broadcasts a message that can be heard over the terminal’s public address system.  At the conclusion of the ceremony Mayor Cermak takes his four grandchildren on a plane ride, courtesy of Century Air Lines.