Thursday, April 25, 2019

April 25, 1946 -- Naperville Train Wreck Kills 47

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April 25, 1946 – In the early afternoon tragedy comes to Naperville, at the time a town of about 5,000 residents, as two Burlington passenger trains come together at Loomis Street,  The first train of nine cars, carrying about 150 people, leaves Chicago and heads for Omaha and Lincoln, Nebraska about two minutes before the second Oakland-bound train which carries 175 passengers in 11 assorted coach and sleeping cars.  Somewhere near Naperville a crew member of the first train observes something shooting out from the train’s undercarriage, and the engineer stops his train so that it can be inspected for damage.  The unexpected stop triggers signals behind the train that should have warned the second passenger train’s engineer of the blocked track ahead.  A flagman from the first train also is dispatched up the line as an additional means of warning the approaching train.  The engineer of that second train, 68-year-old W. W. Blaine, brings his train through a yellow caution signal and a red stop signal and past the flagman and just 90 seconds after the first train had rolled to a stop, Blaine’s train rips into the stopped train at a speed estimated to be about 45 miles-per-hour. Blaine later says that he put his train into emergency braking as it was travelling at 80 miles-per-hour, but there was not enough time to bring the speeding train to a stop.  The front truck of Blaine’s EMD ES-A locomotive is sheared off on impact, and the engine travels through three-quarters of the rear car of the stopped train, killing most of its passengers.  The locomotive continues forward for 205 feet, bending a light-weight dining car like a crushed aluminum can, causing more deaths.  The fireman on the second train dies instantly as he jumps from the cab a split second before the impact.  Immediately adjacent to the tracks is the Kroehler Furniture Factory and within minutes 800 employees respond to the disaster, along with 60 students from Naperville’s North Central College.  There is no hospital in rural Naperville at the time, and rescuers work throughout the day to free the injured and the dead from the mangled wreckage of the two trains.  The railroad dispatches a special train to the scene with doctors and nurses, but it is more than eight hours before the last car is opened with acetylene torches.  It would be 27 hours before trains began to roll through Naperville once again. Altogether, 47 people die in the wreck and another 125 are injured.  Subsequent investigation by the Interstate Commerce Commission and a DuPage County grand jury culminate in no action being taken against the crews of either train or the Burlington Railroad.  In April, 2014 a sculpture, “Tragedy to Triumph,” was dedicated as a memorial to those who died on that spring day in 1946.  



April 25, 1972 – More than a hundred businessmen and city officials gather to celebrate the ground-breaking for the new 1,000 room convention hotel developed by Hyatt Corporation, the Prudential Insurance Company of America, Metropolitan Structures, and Illinois Center Corporation, a subsidiary of Illinois Central Industries, Inc.  Mayor Richard J. Daley lauds the project as “a great asset for Chicagoans who want to work, live and play in the city.” [Chicago Tribune, April 26, 1972] Sited on Wacker Drive just to the east of Michigan Avenue on the south side of the Chicago River, the 36-story hotel is one of the first buildings in a massive project to develop the 82-acre site of Illinois Center, formerly a railroad yard.  The Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of I. C. Industries, William B. Johnson, says the Illinois Center project “will be a blend of buildings, of river, and of lake with open, green space, creating an altogether new and highly livable environment.”  The hotel is shown under construction in the photo above.  The photo below that shows approximately the same view today.  The Hyatt Regency Chicago is the reddish-brown tower to the left just beyond the Columbus Drive bridge.


April 25, 1875 – With memories of the city’s destruction four years earlier, Chicagoans understandably loved their beer, especially with a large share of the milk watered down and the drinking water suspect.  On this date the Chicago Daily Tribune ran a feature on the principal beer manufacturers in the city.  They included:

Conrad Seipp – located east of Cottage Grove Avenue at the foot of Twenty-Sixth Street with a main plant “probably the largest used for the manufacture of lager beer in the United States.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, April 25, 1872] Seipp founded the brewery in 1856 and admitted a partner, Fred Lehman, in 1858.  Lehman died in 1872 after being thrown from a buggy.  The firm employs 100 men with 60 horses “constantly in use and 16 teams delivering beer in the city and suburbs.  The establishment consumes 300,000 bushels of malt and 300,000 bush
els of hops each year, producing “the enormous amount of 100,000 barrels of beer.”  The above photo shows the scale of the concern.

Downer and Bemis Brewing Company – located on South Park Avenue, overlooking the lake between Twenty-Third and Twenty-Fourth Streets and founded in 1861.  The brewery makes only lager beer and in 1871 sold 65,000 barrels.

Busch and Brand Brewery Company – located on Cedar Street near the lake and founded in 1851, “one of the first firms to make lager-beer in this city.”  Although it was destroyed in the fire of 1871 it was rebuilt within three months and produces 40,000 barrels annually with room in storehouses and ice houses for another 20,000 barrels.  

Chicago Union Brewing Company – located on Twenty-Seventh Street and Johnson Avenues, just east of Cottage Grove Avenue, the brewery was founded in 1869 for the manufacture of ale “since which time their products have achieved a reputation that places them first in the estimation of all.”  The company supplies “almost exclusively … all first-class saloons in the city” as well as the Palmer House and the Grand Pacific Hotel “and in fact every first-class hotel in the city.”

Doyle and Co., Brewers -- located at 423 North State Street (1243 North State today), producing only ales and porter.  The firm produces 24,000 barrels of ale and porter annually and “keeps four teams delivering and several others hauling.”

Fortune Brothers – located on West Van Buren Street near Halsted, founded in 1866, and producing ale and porter.  The brewery produces 80 barrels of ale a day with “a large corps of skilled workmen and keeps four delivery teams constantly going”.  

T. D. Stuver – the agent for Porter’s Joliet Ales and Porter, located on Randolph Street, an agent for “the celebrated Joliet malt liquors … begun at Joliet by Mr. Ed. Porter some twenty years ago, and, though first-class at first, have improved in excellence as in quantity these many years, until now they fairly rival the more costly English stocks of Bass and Burton and are acknowledged to be ahead of any other body ales in the United States.”  Four wagons deliver pale stock ale, “one of the healthiest and most palatable beverages, ever used or invented to refresh thirsty humanity.”


April 25, 1914 -- In a conflict that began with a relatively minor incident in which neither Mexican authorities or United States sailors could speak one another's language, hostilities loomed between the two countries, and young men began heading for the nearest recruiting posts, volunteering for the military. On this date the Chicago Daily Tribune reports that 1,000 applicants have made their way to the city, including Harold Witherspoon from Whiting, Indiana. The 17-year-old walked all the way from his home to enlist -- a distance of 23 miles. Within a block of the naval recruiting station at 205 Fifth Avenue (today's Wells Street) a packing case falls off the back of a truck and crushes his foot. He is accepted conditionally and sent to Lake Bluff to recover. If he fails to regain full health, he will go back to Whiting . . . but not on foot. Of the thousand men who show up less than a hundred are accepted.


Wednesday, April 24, 2019

April 24, 1962 -- Chicago Park District Expands Two Beaches

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April 24, 1962 – Using sand that was discovered in excavations for the South Expressway, today’s Dan Ryan Expressway, Chicago Park District officials have plans to expand two beaches along the lakefront.  The Thirty-First Street beach will be expanded to four times its size while the beach on the east side of Meigs Field, between the air strip and the planetarium to the north, will be doubled..  It is expected that both beaches will be completed for the 1962 swimming season.  The sand comes from a deposit of glacial sand twelve feet deep that was discovered at Thirty-First Street.  Robert A. Black, the chief engineer for the park district, says, “This sand was part of the Lake Michigan beach thousands of years ago.  It was deposited by glaciers and then covered up.” [Chicago Tribune, April 24, 1962]  The Army Corps of Engineers had previously approved the expansion of the Thirty-First Street beach expansion, and a petition for approval of the Twelfth Street project is pending.  One would barely recognize the Thirty-First Street beach today.  Known as Margaret T. Burroughs Beach, it sits at the foot of Thrifty-First Street and fronts a new harbor that contains 1,000 floating slips for boats of between 35 and 70 feet.  The beach has an ADA-accessible playground, a public fishing dock, harbor store, community room and picnic area.  Born in Louisiana, Burroughs came to Chicago early in her life, earning a teaching certificate from the Chicago Teachers College. In the late 1930's she led a movement that culminated in the creation of the South Side Community Art Center.  In the 1960's Burroughs and her husband, Charles, founded one of the country's first African-American history museums which is now housed in Washington Park.  In 1986 Mayor Harold Washington named her to serve on the Chicago Park District Board of Commissioners. 


April 24, 1926 – Albany Park district commissioners complete the purchase of a 14-acre parcel of land that straddles the Chicago River, bounded on the east by Lawndale Avenue, on the west by Ayers Avenue, on the North by Foster Avenue, and on the south by Carmen Avenue.  The river will cut diagonally across the space.  The entire site will cost $90,000 with another $150,000 planned for buildings to will include a fieldhouse, tennis courts, a playground, gardens and a wide lawn.  The park today is named Eugene Field Park in honor of the writer and poet Eugene Field who wrote such popular kids’ poems as “Wynken, Blynken and Nod” and “The Gingham Dog and the Calico Cat”. It features a Tudor Revival-style fieldhouse designed by Clarence Hatzfeld. On a main stairway wall inside the clubhouse hangs a W.P.A. mural entitled “Participation of Youth in the Realm of the Arts”. Eugene Field Park is shown in the above photo.


April 24, 1880 – Surveyors begin staking out the site that the Pullman Palace-Car Works and the Allen Paper Car-Wheel Works will occupy and preparations are finalized for opening ceremonies on April 25.  Pullman will be quite a venture as the Chicago Daily Tribune reports, “Before winter comes a new town will be planted between One Hundred and Third and One Hundred and Fifteenth streets.  A population of thousands will be growing where not a young blade grew before.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, April 25, 1880]The erecting shops will have stalls for fifty passenger cars and 100 freight cars at a time.  All the buildings will have electric lights and will be heated with steam.  There will be 7,827,026 cubic feet to be warmed, requiring 230,536 feet of steam pipe.  The Tribune describes the expected grounds to be impressive as well, reporting that “The entire area, half a mile deep by a mile long, will be treated with shrubbery, lawns, serpentine walks, and drives in the best style of landscape art.  A drive two miles long will encircle the shops.  A boulevard 150 feet wide, with a lawn in the centre, will be made of One Hundred and Eleventh street.”  Before cold weather comes this year, close to 2,000 mechanics and laborers would be at work in the new community that would become, almost overnight, the largest suburb of the city.


April 24, 1966 -- The Chicago Tribune reports that as the old Federal building, bounded by Dearborn, Clark, Adams and Jackson, is demolished, the building across Jackson Boulevard, the Monadnock, is coming into clearer view. And the Monadnock, constructed between 1891 and 1893, is getting a major interior renovation. Fluorescent lights, carpets, and new office doors are being installed and the interior is being painted with white walls and dark gray ceilings. When it opened the building was the largest office building in the world and its design a pure statement of farewell to one building technique and a welcome to the next. As Professor Thomas Leslie of Iowa State University wrote, "Far from being the world's last and largest 'masonry skyscraper,' the Monadnock was a profoundly transitional structural achievement, making important advances in steel construction while still relying on the well-proven strength and reliability of masonry." However you approach the Monadnock, it is one heck of a building.



Tuesday, April 23, 2019

April 23, 1962 -- Home Federal Savings and Loan Tops Out New Tower

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April 23, 1962 – The Home Federal Saving and Loan Association’s new 16-story building at the southeast corner of State and Adams Streets is topped out.  One of the last beams to be hoisted in place carries a broom with it to signify a “clean sweep,” a building’s superstructure erected without a fatality.  The bank’s president, Otto L. Preisler, signals a construction crew to begin lifting the final beam into place, using a walkie-talkie.  In the black and white photo above architect William Hartman joins other dignitaries as they watch the last piece of structural steel place at the top of what is today 11 East Adams.  The building as it appears today is shown in the second photo.


April 23, 1992 – The Lake County Forest Preserve commissioners vote to protest a decision by the Department of Defense regarding the fate of Ft. Sheridan.  Playing both offense and defense, the commissioners vote to write a strongly worded letter to the Pentagon while stating that they still want to get their hands on 250 acres of the base that are comprised of a golf course, ravines and Lake Michigan shoreline.  This follows an earlier announcement that half of the 250 acres would go toward a veteran’s cemetery with the remainder put up for bid by local governments.  Andrea Moore, the president of the district, says, “I don’t think the Department of Defense ever intended that there be much local use of the land.  They have cut the natural resources in half.  How do you manage half a ravine?”  [Chicago Tribune, April 24, 1992] Commissioner Robert Buhai of Highland Park says that while the communities involved in the Ft. Sheridan commission had worked hard to preserve much of the land for public use, Lake Forest had actively lobbied veterans’ groups for the national cemetery.  He says, “The clout that Lake Forest had has superseded everything else.” All of the controversy comes as the clock ticks steadily closer to the closing of the base on May 31, 1993.  The district did not get its golf course.  Instead, it received much of the area covered by the former golf course, a military air strip, rifle range, and Nike missile site.  The restored prairie area contains roughly 4.5 miles of trails for hiking, 3.7 miles for cross-country skiing and 1.3 miles for bicycling.  


April 23, 1970 – The Chicago Tribune reports that the Commission on Chicago Historical and Architectural Landmarks has voted unanimously to give landmark status to two Chicago historical sites – the Hull House mansion at 750 South Halsted Street and a block of 40 row houses on Alta Vista Terrace, not far from Wrigley Field.  The Hull House mansion was built in 1856 for Charles J. Hull, a Chicago real estate broker but by 1910 had become the center for a 13-building complex that was home to the social settlement community of Jane Addams.  The mansion and one other building are the only two structures that remained after the University of Illinois began levelling the area for the building of its Chicago campus.  The Alta Vista terrace area is only the second such district to be designated as a landmark, the first being the area surrounding the Chicago water tower on Michigan Avenue.  Hearings within the month will determine the status of the Leiter I building at 208 West Monroe Street and the Monadnock Building at 55 West Jackson Boulevard.  Leiter I would not make the cut and would be demolished in 1972.  The Monadnock, fortunately, received landmark status and was meticulously restored.


April 23, 1955 -- The Chicago Daily Tribune reports that mass injections of the Salk anti-polio vaccine for Chicago first and second graders in 65 parochial schools will begin on April 25. Herman Bundesen, the president of the Board of Health, also announces that the rest of the 16,200 boys and girls in these schools, along with students in 38 private and five Jewish schools will begin receiving vaccinations on April 26. The first shot will be given by Dr. Bundesen at Immaculate Conception School, 1415 N. Park Avenue. Reverend Monsignor Daniel Cunningham, Superintendent of Catholic schools in the city, will be present as well as Mayor Richard J. Daley. Chicago School Superintendent Benjamin C. Willis reports that shots for public school youngsters will begin on May 2 with 89 percent of parental permission slips for first and second graders already returned.

Monday, April 22, 2019

April 22, 1974 -- Elevated Derailment Sends 17 to Hospital ... Second in 11 Days

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April 22, 1974 – The second elevated train derailment in two weeks takes place at 1 p.m. at Wacker Drive and Wells Street as the northbound train derails as it approaches the bridge over the Chicago River.  Although there are no serious injuries on the two-car train, 17 people are transported to Henrotin Hospital for treatment. Eleven days earlier 23 passengers are injured just one block north.  That accident occurred when the motorman made the turn from Lake Street onto the Wells Street track at too great a speed.  Today’s accident is the result of a “fail-safe” switch that is triggered when the raised Wells Street bridge is closed and fails to make a complete connection with the elevated tracks.  The above photo shows the front car of the two-car train with its front wheels off the tracks as it sits above Wacker Drive.



April 22, 1963 – United States Gypsum Company employees take their places for the first time in the new 19-story building at the corner of Wacker Drive and Monroe Street after two days of moving in preparation.  The company will occupy 11 floors, the lobby and two lower levels with the remaining five floors set aside for lease.  The building will bring together 1,000 people who were formerly spread across four locations on Adams Street and Wells Street. U. S. G. chairman C. H. Shaver says the company felt a responsibility to design a building “compatible with our company’s needs, and an obligation to the community to be harmonious with its environment, aesthetically pleasing, and which exemplifies the highest type of contribution toward enhancing the Chicago skyline.” [Chicago Tribune, April 22, 1963] The tower was razed in the first years of the new millennium to clear the site for the 111 South Wacker Drive building, but while it stood it drew its share of controversy, mostly because the architectural firm of Perkins and Will turned the tower on a 45-degree angle to the streets on which it stood.  Lawrence Perkins, in his Oral History with the Art Institute of Chicago, said of the plan, “It derives from several things. To do it with a perfectly square plan would not have worked because the squares were inefficient.  If you’ve looked at the building, you’ll know that each corner is notched out so that we have eight corners on each floor.  That permits you to get more space nearer the lot line.  But by turning it we are protecting our light and air on all four sides.  We knew that we that had a bunch of uncompromising rectangles on the three and now four of the sides of the building.  We were protecting their light and air, we were protecting ours … “  The original U. S. G. building is shown in the photo above.  Below it is its replacement the Lohan Caprille Goettsch 111 South Wacker, completed in 2005.


April 22, 1971 – The Chicago Tribune learns that the Atcheson, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad’s passenger trains will be moved to Union Station, making it certain that the Dearborn Street station will be closed.  Signs are already posted at Dearborn station, notifying passengers that service will be discontinued on April 30.  The passenger operations of the Atcheson, Topeka and Santa Fe have been taken over by Amtrak and one of the government agency’s principal goals is to consolidate terminals in Chicago since they eat so much of the operating costs of passenger trains.  Chicago’s commuter trains will maintain their present distribution across several stations on the periphery of downtown.  Consolidation of these trains would add as much as 30 minutes to some routes, defeating the purpose of paying for a 30-minute train ride from the suburbs to the city.  The photo above shows the 1976 demolition of the train sheds that lay south of the station.


April 22, 1862 -- The Chicago Tribune reports that one Frederick Boetiger has filed a grievance with the Chicago Common Council that will be referred to the Finance Committee for a determination of damages. It seems that Boetiger had attempted to make his way into the city by way of Division Street, using "all due care and diligence in traversing the same". However, the street was in such bad condition that his horse became "stalled in the mud of the said street and smothered to death within the city limits." Boetiger sought compensation for his lost animal. The street on the far left of the photo above is the same street poor Mr. Boetiger got stuck on back in 1862.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

April 21, 1975 -- Chicago River Long-Term Plan Released

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April 21, 1975 – City planning officials release “The Riverside Plan of Chicago,” a document that, for the first time, assembles all of the proposals for river improvements in a single place.  The Chicago Tribune reports that if the plans are carried out as proposed “the 1.5-mile stretch of the Chicago River, between Wolf Point and Lake Michigan, could one day rival the lakefront as the city’s recreational mecca.”  [Chicago Tribune, April 23, 1975]  The report looks toward an eventual string of small parks and walkways along both banks of the river, a 100-acre park on landfill south of the river and east of Lake Shore Drive, improvements to Navy Pier, and the conversion of Ogden slip, south of Lake Point Tower, into a park.  Another recommendation is the placement of artwork on both public and private property along the river, especially along the south bank near Michigan Avenue, at Wolf Point and at Navy Pier.  A small park is proposed on a site at the foot of Rush Street on the north bank, along with a 25-foot landscaped walkway for the river frontage at Wolf Point. The report also looks toward construction of some residential buildings along the north bank of the river between Lake Shore Drive and the proposed bridge at Columbus Drive.  The two photos form a stark contrast between what the river and the adjoining area looked like in 1970 and what it looks like today.



April 21, 1948 – A gang of more than a hundred railroad workers begins laying tracks form the Illinois Central tracks across South Lake Shore Drive at Twenty-Eighth Street and into the grounds where the Chicago Railroad Fair is set to open on July 20.  A cut is made in the southbound lanes of the drive so that tracks can be laid with the northbound lanes tackled the following day.  Assurances are given that asphalt resurfacing of the road will "leave the drive as good as ever.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, April 22, 1948] Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry organized the Railroad Fair “to celebrate the One Hundredth Anniversary of the Opening of the West in the United States, by holding an Exposition in Chicago, showing in Educational, Scientific and Graphic form the building and development of the Railroads of North American with a demonstration of their place and importance in the American Economy.”  [chicagology.com] The fair was originally supposed to run for just the summer of 1948, but it was so successful that the city brought it back for the summer of 1949.  Held on 50 acres of Burnham Park between Twentieth and Thirtieth Streets, the fair was planned in just six months and featured exhibits from 38 railroads and 20 railroad equipment manufacturers. During the two summers the fair ran, over 5.5 million people trekked to the lakefront to see the show.  The laying of the tracks across Lake Shore Drive is shown in the photo above with the Railroad Fair itself shown in the second photo.


April 21, 1901 – A huge iron tank breaks from its supports on the roof of the Galbraith Building on Madison Street and smashes through six floors to the basement.  Seven people are injured, none of them seriously, and all the glass on the Madison Street side of the building is broken.  Two crows are killed in the Slotkin Pet Store on the ground floor.  Fortunately, the accident occurs on a Sunday.  There was no warning, and if the tank had fallen on any other day of the week, casualties would have undoubtedly been far greater.  The tank had been installed a month earlier to supply water to the fire suppression system, and the water in the tank alone weighed almost six tons.  Harry Solomon, one of the fortunate souls who escaped the tank’s fall, said, “The thing was over before we could realize our peril.  A deluge of water and wreckage poured on us as we stood gazing into the great gap that had been cut through the floor not three feet from where I had stood.  I knew in an instant that it was the tank, as we had spoken of the danger of installing the great weight in the old building.  The whole building shook, and I thought there was no hope for us, but we rushed to the fire-escape to avoid going down with the floors.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, April 22, 1901] In the above plate from Rand McNally's 1893 View of Chicago the Galbraith Building is #10 at the very top of the rendering toward the right corner.


April 21, 1967 -- The third and final tornado to strike Illinois on this day begins northwest of Joliet at about 4:45 p.m. It moves east-northeast, building power and momentum as it goes. It takes six minutes for the monster funnel to carve a path of damage 16 miles long through the suburbs of Oak Lawn, Hometown, and Evergreen Park. At the intersection of Ninety-Fifth Street and Southwest Highway it throws several dozen cars stopped in traffic off the road, and sixteen people are killed at just this one location. The south end and east wall of Oak Lawn High School are destroyed at 5:26 p.m. when the school clocks stop. With winds of over 100 m.p.h., the tornado finally blows itself out over the lake off Rainbow Beach. Even though it is no longer on the ground, it still has enough power to pop windshields out of cars parked at the Filtration Plant at Seventy-Eighth Street and the lake. The disaster is immense -- 33 people lose their lives, and over 1,000 suffer injuries. 152 homes are totally demolished, and another 900 or more are damaged. In its analysis of the tornado the National Weather Service concludes, "Most of those killed were people who were not in a position to hear the warning because they were away from home. Actually, the tornado could hardly have come at a worst [sic] time of day or week to catch the greatest number of people out in the open."

Saturday, April 20, 2019

April 20, 1972 -- Rookery Building Gets Landmark Hearing

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April 20, 1972 – At a hearing before the Chicago Landmarks Commission the executive director of the American Institute of Architects, W. R. Hasbrouck, lashes out at building owners who resist having their properties designated landmarks because of a fear that such a designation will impact the marketability of their property.  Hasbrouck says, “We have an irresistible urge to destroy our landmarks.”  [Chicago Tribune, April 21, 1972]  The hearing at which Hasbrouck appears is convened to consider city landmark status for The Rookery building at 209 South La Salle Street. Attorney Oscar D’Angelo who led a group in a failed effort to save the old Chicago Stock Exchange at 30 North La Salle Street, a building designed by Louis Sullivan, tells the hearing that the city needs “to put its own house in order,” noting that the land under the Rookery is owned by the city and leased to the University of Chicago.  At the expiration of the lease in 1985 the city will own both the land and the building.  The Rookery did receive landmark status in 1972, and the city came to own it, just as predicted, in 1982.  In 1988 L. T. Baldwin, III purchased the building and began returning it to its former glory.  The renovation was completed in 1992 with a twelfth story added.  In 2008 the building came under new ownership, and in 2014 it became the oldest high-rise building in the world to achieve LEED Gold Certification.  Most experts agree that it is the oldest certified high-rise building in the world.  It is a significant jewel in the crown of a city abounding in architectural gems.


April 20, 1916 – The Chicago Cubs defeat the Cincinnati Reds, 7-6, in eleven innings.  The Cubs are down three runs going into the bottom of the eighth inning, but the team comes back to tie the game in the ninth.  The Reds aren’t done, though, and it takes three more runs in the bottom of the eleventh inning to win the game with first baseman Vic Saier driving in the walk-off run.  That is not the biggest story of the day, though, for this is the first game that the Cubs play in their new Northside stadium at Wieghman Field.  A caravan of cars nearly a mile long winds its way to the field before game time, and a half-dozen bands participate in the opening festivities.  Fireworks explode in center field while the American flag is raised.  There is even a live donkey on hand, hosted by the Twenty-Fifth Ward Democrats.  A “live and active” black Cub bear is brought to home plate “to do tricks in front of the move camera.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, April 20, 1916] New seats for the occasion have been built beyond the outfield and 30 minutes before the 3:00 p.m. start, part of the crowd in the right field seats climbs down and stands on the field.  It is declared that a hit into this crowd will be worth two bases, and “The players took great delight in driving the ball into that circle of fans,” accounting for nine ground-rule doubles before the game is completed.  All in all, 20,000 fans stay to see the exciting conclusion to “the biggest and noisiest opening day in Cub history.”  Playing in the new ball park Joe Tinker’s Cubs go on to finish fifth in the National League, 26 games behind the Brooklyn Dodgers, drawing 453,685 fans to Addison and Clark Streets. In the first game in the new ball park the Chicago Cub is safe at third in the above photo.


April 20, 1883 – The Chicago Daily Tribune reports that the dam that separates the Des Plaines River from the Ogden ditch has broken and that “The pumps on the South Branch of the river at Bridgeport, erected at a heavy cost by the city in order to transfer the foul water of the river to the canal, will, it is feared, have their usefulness considerably impaired by a condition of affairs which is daily growing more serious.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, April 20, 1883]  This is bad news for Chicago, which has kept the river flowing, to a greater or lesser degree, into the Illinois and Michigan Canal for close to 20 years, thus sending the city’s sewage westward and away from the lake.  If the Des Plaines is allowed to flow at peak times into the Ogden ditch, engineered by William Butler Ogden and John Wentworth and a dozen other landowners in order to drain their property near Mud Lake, then the direction of the Chicago River will be compromised and potential disaster will lurk.  At the time of the paper’s report “the water [of the Des Plaines] now sweeps freely into the ditch through an aperture twenty or thirty feet wide.” 


April 20, 1900 -- Just three months after the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal opened, the project that was to end all of Chicago's river troubles . . . BAD NEWS. Marine interests pressure the Chicago Sanitary District to order the controlling works in Lockport to be shut down on this date. The depth of the river has dropped so low that at least 20 big ships are unable to make it over the roof of the Washington Boulevard tunnel, and grain shippers are impatient at the delay in getting cargo in and out of the city. In a neat job of parrying criticism, the head of the drainage board says, "The problem with the lake Captains is that they load their vessels too heavily. They often load down to seventeen and eighteen feet draft when they know there is only seventeen feet of water in the river." On top of everything else the tow line between a tug and the steamer Panther snaps, and the ship slams into the steamer Parnell at the Wells Street dock. The photo above shows the controlling works in Lockport, a city that got its name because of the lock located there on the original 1848 Illinois and Michigan Canal.

Friday, April 19, 2019

April 19, 1949 -- Cubs Fall to Pittsburgh, 1-0, in Opener

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April 19, 1949 – Pittsburgh Pirate pitcher Rip Sewell continues his dominance over the Cubs as he shuts the home team out, 1-0, in the season opener at Wrigley Field.  In the 1943 home opener Sewell shut the Cubs down, 6-0, and in 1948 he pitched the Pirates team to victory, 4-2, adding a home run in the process.  The opening day win is the thirty-fourth time Sewell has beaten the Cubs; he ended up with seven wins against Chicago in 1948 alone. On a cold day at Wrigley Cubs pitcher Dutch Leonard holds the Pirates to just four singles and walks no one through eight innings.  Shortstop Roy Smalley’s error allows Pirate Dixie Walker to reach first base to start the ninth inning, however, and a single by Ralph Kiner, a sacrifice fly, and an intentional walk, the only walk Leonard gives up in the game, loads the bases. Pinch hitter Les Fleming hits into a force play, scoring the game’s only run, giving the Bucko’s the victory. The Cubs go on to lose 93 games, finishing in last place in the National League, 36 games behind the Brooklyn Dodgers.  


April 19, 1991 – One of the great treasures of Chicago is the Chicago Architecture Foundation, an organization of nearly 500 volunteers who lead close to 80 tours and who work diligently to hammer home the point that design really does matter in shaping the spaces in which we live.  It is interesting to look back 27 years ago to a Chicago Tribune article on the foundation written as it celebrated its first twenty-five years with March 9 of that year designated by Richard M. Daley as Chicago Architecture Foundation Day.  It was in 1967 that a group of architects, fearing that gentrification of the near south side would sweep away a particular treasure, the Glessner House, formed the Chicago School of Architecture Foundation with its offices in the Glessner House itself.  Ten years later the “School of” left the name and the focus of the foundation changed from preservation to education with an emphasis on showcasing the unique contributions that Chicago architecture has made to the city, the nation and the world. In the 1991 Tribune article the executive director of the organization, John Engman, says, “People around the world think of Chicago, unfortunately, for its gangsters and fortunately, for its architecture.  But Chicago architecture is what defines this city as a unique world city more so than anything else.  Architects throughout the world make pilgrimages to this town.”  [Chicago Tribune, April 19, 1991] At the time the organization consisted of about 300 docents who started walking tours from the Monadnock building.  Today there are nearly 200 more docents, and the foundation is settling in to new headquarters in the 111 East Wacker Drive building above the docks from which guests depart on the foundation’s signature Chicago Architecture Center River Cruise aboard Chicago’s First Lady Cruises. John Engman said 27 years ago, “The city is our museum,” and for the dedicated volunteers who stand on tour boats in rain or shine, who lead tours everywhere from Hyde Park to Fort Sheridan, and who spend hour upon hour preparing for their assignments, that is still true.


April 19, 1962 – Mayor Richard J. Daley presents a revised plan for the development of 60 acres of the area east of Michigan Avenue and north of Randolph Street, today’s Illinois Center.  The mayor says, “This proposal has been prepared to assure the orderly development of one of Chicago’s most valuable areas.  It is a vast undertaking that can provide more than 30,000 persons who could enjoy nearby employment, cultural, and recreational facilities.  This development will increase tax revenues and will be a great stimulus to the future growth of Chicago.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, April 20, 1962]  The city plan commissioner, Ira Bach, indicates that the development of the Illinois Central Railroad’s air rights in this area could provide 12 million dollars in real estate taxes each year.  The area about which the Mayor speaks is the area enclosed in the dotted lines.  Looking at this area as well as the area north of the river today is a visual lesson in the positive and negative aspects of urban planning.


April 19, 1925 --The Flying Finn, Paavo Nurmi, wins the 3,000 meter run at the first annual Loyola Relays at Grant Park stadium, today's Soldier Field. Rain in the morning leaves the track in poor condition, and the weather is cold and blustery. Still, 5,000 spectators watch as Nurmi covers the distance in 8:49.25, considerably off his world record of 8:32. The sensation from Finland is content to let fellow countryman Willie Ritola lead the pack through the stiff northerly winds until two laps remain. On the last curve he passes Ritola and goes on to win by 20 yards. Refusing to pose for pictures, he gathers up his gear and heads into the locker room as the crowd cheers. In difficult conditions he and Ritola are the only two runners to finish the race. The statue of Nurvi, pictured below, stands outside the Helsinki Olympic stadium.