Thursday, June 21, 2018

June 21, 1894 -- Joseph Medill Speaks of Municipal Reform

Joseph Medill
June 21, 1894 – At a meeting of the Civic Federation, held at the Auditorium building, Joseph Medill, former Mayor of Chicago and owner of the Chicago Daily Tribune, addresses the group on a variety of topics.  Medill offers six “reforms” that he believes need to be instituted to “eventuate in valuable reforms of the municipal government and conduce to the welfare and happiness of the citizens.”  They are: (1) Make the Mayor ineligible to reelection at the expiration of his term.  A term, and out a term; (2) Establish a municipal service system on the lines of the Federal civil service system; (3) The police should be completely divorced from partisan politics. To insure this the police officers would be taken from both parties as nearly equal as practicable to start the system … No policeman should be dismissed from the force except for good cause.  His political leanings ought not to be considered … A partisan police force is only half a force.  It may be likened to a nuisance – an abomination; (4) The same rules for selection and qualification should be observed in appointing members of the Fire Department; (5) All clerks and accountants also should be selected by competitive examination on qualifications; the tests to be similar to those of the United States civil service; (6) All inspectors of work, of machines, and of material should be chosen for their expert knowledge, honesty, and capability, and be dismissed for lack of them in discharging their duties.”  Of the six reforms, Medill considers the first to be the most important.  “The Mayor must be freed from the reelection temptation,” he states. “He must be emancipated from the control of the ward politicians and scheming contracts and men with ‘pulls’. He must be protected from the malign influence of the ‘walking delegates’ of bummer politics and place in a position where he can serve the people courageously and faithfully and let his future reputation rest on the excellence of the discharge of his duties as Mayor.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, June 22, 1894]

June 21, 1956 – The Chicago Plan Commission approves a 15 million-dollar plan that will eliminate the two 90-degree turns on the south approach to the Lake Shore Drive bridge over the Chicago River.  Engineering consultant Ralph Burke was commissioned in 1955 to undertake the engineering studies that would allow the project to move forward.  The main features of the plan he recommends include:  (1) filling in a portion of the lake about 200 feet from the shoreline so that a system of ramps will move traffic from Michigan Avenue at Oak Street onto Lake Shore Drive without an intersection; (2) Ramps will also be created for both Ohio and Ontario Streets at Lake Shore Drive, again through the use of Lake Michigan fill between the shore and the proposed water filtration plant north of Navy Pier with Ohio and Ontario becoming one-way streets east of Michigan Avenue; (3) Wacker Drive east of Michigan Avenue will be extended and double-decked between Michigan Avenue and Lake Shore Drive; (4) On and off ramps will be created to replace the intersections of Lake Shore Drive at Monroe, Jackson and Balbo; and (5) a “trestle structure” [Chicago Tribune, June 22, 1956] will be built to carry Lake Shore Drive to the east of the Naval armory, a building and dock space just to the southeast of Randolph Street.  In the black and white photo above the old Naval armory building is outlined in red.  The recent photo shows the roads as they got built with the site of the old Naval Armory in red. The old “T-intersections” at Ohio, Ontario, Randolph, Jackson and Balbo all remain.    

June 21, 1926 – The City Council Committee on Railway Terminals receives the official estimate for the cost of straightening the Chicago River between Eighteenth Street and Polk.  The total comes to $9,852,062.  Close to $8,000,000 of that sum will be paid by the railroads.  This will be a huge project, but once the finances are in place the entire operation will take just one year to complete.  Seven railroads are involved, with property being sold between the railroads so that their yards might be consolidated and aligned with the street grid, a movement that will open up acres of property for development in the south Loop east of the river.  The above photo gives a good idea of the massive nature of the project.  For more information on this massive project you can go to this feature in Connecting the Windy City.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

June 20, 1926 -- Eucharistic Congress Sees Chicago River Arrival of Cardinal O'Connell

June 20, 1926 – Cardinal William Henry O’Connell arrives on the steamship South America, along with “three monsignori, twenty-five priests, and 450 laymen, on a pilgrimage from Boston,” [Chicago Daily Tribune, June 21, 1926], having sailed from Buffalo to attend the twenty-eighth Eucharistic Congress.  Mayor William Dever is the first to greet the cardinal as he steps off the gangplank of the ship, moored in the Chicago River.  The mayor begins, “Your eminence … Unofficially, I welcome you to this city.  Officially I have some little influence about, and you may be assured that we will do what we can to make you comfortable.”  Cardinal O’Connell responds to the mayor, who grew up just outside Boston, “We have deep sentiments of genuine gratitude for your courtesy in coming to greet the people of Boston and me.  We are proud to find in this giant city of the west such an efficient, capable, honest and honorable chief executive … We are proud, for we are happy to know that the beginnings of the formation of this character took place in our own archdiocese.”  The Twenty-Eighth International Eucharistic Congress was the first such congress held in the United States.  Cardinal George Mundelein, the Archbishop of Chicago was the host.  Among other things, the congress drew a half-million people to attend a mass at Soldier Field.  The closing mass at St. Mary of the Lake Seminary drew nearly one million worshippers.  It is shown in the photo above.

June 20, 1979 – Stanton R. Cook, publisher of the Chicago Tribune and president of Tribune Co., announces plans for a $150 million newspaper production plant that will be constructed on a 21-acre site between Chicago and Grand Avenue on the west side of the Chicago River.  Mayor Jane Byrne says of the plans, “This is a very important day for the City of Chicago. I am very pleased that The Chicago Tribune, which certainly sets trends, is setting a new one.”  Designed by Skidmore Owings and Merrill, the new plant will have 697,000 square feet of space with ten Goss Metroliner offset presses, allowing the paper to increase the number of copies that can be printed each hour from 60,000 to 75,000 while expanding the number of pages that can be handled per print run from 112 to 144.  Clayton Kirkpatrick, president and chief executive officer of Chicago Tribune Co., says of the plans, “It is a testimony to our belief in the future of Chicago and our commitment to the city’s continued economic growth.”  The company acquired the site on which the new facility will be built in 1967.  Today that site is poised to take on a whole new future as the company hopes to develop the site, which it calls The River District, potentially making way for commercial buildings that may house 19,000 employees and residential buildings that may hold up to 5,500 units. The top photo shows the site as it exists now, outlined in red.  The large building is the current printing facility.  The photo below that shows the projected development of the site.

June 20, 1947 – Representatives of the city, state, and federal governments participate in ceremonies as silver plated shovels move the first earth on Northerly Island, and “Chicago’s 25 year old dream of a lake front airport attained the beginning of reality.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, June 21, 1947]  Merrill C. Meigs, the chairman of the Chicago Aero Commission, acts as the master of ceremonies, saying “. . . when it is finished downtown Chicago will be only seven minutes away for the air traveller as compared with 45 minutes in most other large cities.”  Chicago Commissioner of Public Works Oscar Hewitt said, “Chicago can be the magnetic center of the whole of the valley of the Mississippi and the air crossroads of the globe.  I am willing to go on record as saying that travel and transport by air will go further in extending Chicagoland than any element in the growth of the area to date.”