Wednesday, December 13, 2017

December 13, 1882 -- "No Elevated," Says The Tribune

December 13, 1882 – The Chicago Daily Tribune publishes an editorial in which it protests strongly against an elevated railroad in the city, saying:  “The public should organize its protest against any scheme of this kind with a promptness and emphasis that shall leave the Council no doubt about the popular disapproval which unquestionably prevails.  There is neither necessity nor demand for elevated railways in Chicago.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, December 13, 1882] The editorial goes on to remind those behind the elevated scheme of a provision in the Illinois Constitution that “private property shall not be taken or damaged for public use without just compensation ... such compensation, when not made by the State, shall be ascertained by a jury.”  Using this constitutional provision, the writers go on to say, “Probably the full significance of this constitutional provision has not occurred to the gentlemen who are so eager to supply Chicago with an elevated railway system which Chicago doesn’t want.  They may discover that their purses, long as they are, will not hold out to satisfy the owners of the property which they propose to destroy.”  It took another ten years of wrangling, but the elevated system’s first train left the station in June of 1892.

December 13, 1951 – Illinois Governor Adlai Stevenson II, Indiana Governor Henry Schricker and Cook County Board President William Erickson come together to dedicate the Calumet Expressway and its Tri-State Parkway extension, extending from U. S. Route 41 in Hammond to Doty Avenue and 130th Street in Chicago.  The new parkway allows motorists to bypass the industrial areas of northern Indiana and South Chicago in order to connect with a national toll road that will cross Indiana and Ohio and join the existing Pennsylvania turnpike. 

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

December 12, 1928 -- U. S. Permit Issued for Lake Shore Drive Bridge

December 12, 1928 – Colonel W. C. Weeks, the United States district engineer in Chicago, states that he will recommend the issuance of a permit for the construction of an outer drive link bridge across the Chicago River.  Almost immediately a bill asking congressional approval of the bridge is sent to Senator Charles S. Deneen and Congressman Charles R. Chindbloom  in Washington, D. C. Weeks is persuaded, in part by the words of James Simpson, chairman of the Chicago Plan Commission, who wrote, “The people of Chicago will be unable to obtain the full benefit of the millions of dollars which they have spent in creating the lake front parks and drives unless they are properly connected so that the entire, development will be accessible to all sections of the city … Traffic movement is increasing continually and the delay caused by insufficient river crossing results in a very large loss to all those who are affected by traffic congestion upon our north-and-south streets.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, December 13, 1928] The above photo shows the mouth of the river just a bout this time ... note that the bridge at Michigan Avenue is the last bridge before the lake.

December 12, 1943 – With United States war production at full throttle the Chicago Daily Tribune announces that the Illinois Institute of Technology has developed the “mightiest program in its history and a record of having become the busiest as well as the biggest engineering college in the country.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, December 12, 1943]  The school is running a twelve-month calendar with three 16-week terms with all holidays, except Christmas, eliminated from the schedule.  Classes begin at 7:30 a.m. and continue until 5:20 p.m.  The grueling schedule turns out certified engineers in 30 months.  “Frills in college life have been discarded,” the paper writes.  “Graduation ceremonies cut to the minimum as senior classes increase in number, and, if four weeks of the year were not the absolute smallest amount of time needed for registration and administrative work, college officials say these weeks would be utilized for classes.”  The school is spread out across the city with classes taking place in 27 separate war plants.  Classes are also being held at the John Marshall Law School, George Williams College, the Civic Opera Building, and 333 North Michigan Avenue.  Since the United States entered the war in December of 1941, 34,256 students have been enrolled in courses at the school with the enrollment standing at 4,665 as the year comes to an end.

Monday, December 11, 2017

December 11, 1880 -- Selling the Lake Front, Again

December 11, 1880 – The Judiciary Committee of the City Council agrees to sell prime lake front property to the Illinois Central Railroad Company, adopting the following resolution:

Resolved, That the Mayor be authorized and requested to take such steps as he shall deem proper and expedient to procure the passage of an act of Congress at the present session relinquishing to the City of Chicago all the right, title, and interest of the United Sates in and to the streets and public ground in Fort Dearborn Addition to Chicago, with authority in said City of Chicago to sell and convey so much of the latter as lies east of Michigan avenue and south of the south line of Randolph street for the erection of a railroad passenger depot.

On top of this, the committee has also prepared a bill to be considered in Congress, as follows:

A bill to confirm to the City of Chicago the title to certain public grounds: That all the right and title of the United States to the streets and grounds dedicated to public use in that part of the City of Chicago in, the State of Illinois, known as “Fort Dearborn Addition to Chicago,” subdivided and platted under the authority of the secretary of War in the year 1839, be and the same hereby is relinquished and granted to the said city and its successors, with authority to sell and convey so much thereof as lies south of the south line of Randolph street and between the east line of Michigan avenue as now laid out and improved and the roadway of the Illinois Central Railroad Company for the erection thereon of a railway passenger station-house and other purposes incident thereto: provided, that nothing herein contained shall deprive the owners of contiguous lots of any valid right or claim, if such exists, to compensation on account of the change of use to which the public ground herein authorized to be sold and conveyed was originally dedicated by the United States.

So … once again the city fathers make an attempt to sell the city’s lakefront property, showing how close we came to having no lakefront in the central city at all today.  The first attempt at making a deal occurred in 1869 when the Illinois General Assembly passed legislation allowing the sale of property north of Monroe Street and west of the Illinois Central trestle for the sum of $800,000.  Additionally, the area east of the railroad tracks and a mile east into Lake Michigan was to be given to the Illinois Central to build a harbor for the city.  The plan raised a storm of public indignation, and the city refused the initial part of the $800,000 when the railroad offered it.

Out of the 1880 legislation a railroad station did get built – for the Baltimore and Ohio railroad, which had obtained trackage rights from the Illinois Central Railroad. It would be decades of litigation before citizens could finally be assured that the property on the lakefront would be protected.  It would be nearly a century before the railroads would, for the most part, leave the city’s front yard.

The above photo shows the lakefront in 1858, dominated completely by the railroad and warehouses.

December 11, 1911 – At a meeting of the Chicago City Council Mayor Carter Harrison reveals that an agreement has been reached between the South Park commissioners and the Illinois Central railroad in which the city will take possession of the lakeshore between Park Row on the south end of what is today Grant Park and Fifty-First Streets.  The Chicago Daily Tribune says of the deal, “These riparian rights, heretofore held in the grip of the railroad, have a value to the citizens of Chicago that is considered by the park commissioners beyond computation, considering that they will now be enabled to construct a shore boulevard drive between Jackson and Grant parks, with bathing beaches, pleasure piers and islands.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, December 12, 1911]  A direct result of the agreement will be a place between Twelfth and Thirteenth Streets for the Field museum after the railroad tears down its central station and associated outbuildings in that area. The railroad will also lower its tracks below grade north of Twelfth Street, in effect hiding its operation as much as possible from sight.  There are dozens and dozens of other stipulations in the agreement, but there is probably no other document in the city’s history that has done more to create the extensive green space along its shoreline than this one.  South Park Board President John Earton Payne says the agreement will make the connection between Grant Park and Jackson Park “the most beautiful parkway and drive in the world.”  The above photo shows the south end of Grant Park and the Illinois Central terminal in 1911.  The statue in the middle of the park is the statue of General John A. Logan -- still in the same location today -- showing how much the lakefront has changed in this area along in the past century.