Monday, June 26, 2017

June 26, 1919 -- Direct to Liverpool



June 26, 1919 – The steamer Lake Granby with Captain John Klang in command casts off her lines in the Chicago River and starts her run to Liverpool with a cargo of meat products.  This will be the first shipment of goods from Chicago directly to a foreign port. The Lake Granby carries a Chicago crew and was built in the Chicago area.  Before departure, lunch is served on the steamship for a group of businessmen and a bottle of champagne is broken over the ship’s bow.  The Vice-President of meat-packing company Morris and Co., Charles M. MacFarlane, explains the purpose of the trip, saying, “The advantages of this mode of sending shipments to Europe are great, as it eliminates rail shipment to New York.  It relieves the congestion at the seaboard and does away with all the reloading, demurrage, and other charges usually incident to shipment to the seaboard.  Shippers from points west of Chicago, on the Missouri river and the other points in that direction are all interested in the development of this branch of the service because it means their own commodities can be handled to much greater advantage through Chicago than by having them shipped to New York.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, June 27, 1919] The through-freight rate from Chicago to Liverpool by the all-water route is $1.25 per 100 pounds for the meat products the Lake Granby is carrying.  The rate would be $1.45 per 100 pounds for the same cargo, using the railroads to New York and a ship to Liverpool.  Notice how high the Lake Granby rides in the water in the above photo.  Because the maximum depth in the Welland Canal locks permits only 14 feet of draft and the Lake Granby draws 25 feet when loaded to the water line, the ship will stop in Montreal to take on additional cargo.


June 26, 1862 – The Chicago Tribune begins yet another editorial about the Chicago River in this way, “It is conceded by all men that something must be done immediately to improve the sanitary condition of the Chicago River.  The good name of our city, the lives of thousands of our citizens, and, its commerce, growth and prosperity imperatively demand immediate and energetic action . . . In its present condition, a week of hot weather will render a block or two on each side of the river uninhabitable.  And, besides what is to become of our vast shipping interest—the men who navigate our tugs and attend to the bridges, and virtually are forced to live during the season amid the intolerable pestilence-breeding stench of the river, and the crews of our propellers, canal boats, and vessels that are obliged to live upon the river from one to three days at a time?  A week of hot weather will drive them from the river, and no man is so stupid as not to know that Chicago is nothing without her commerce.”  The paper has solutions.  Pumps at Bridgeport “can clear it out and, aired by the process and mingled with the water of the DesPlaines it will pass South without inconvenience or offence to any body.”  But the North Branch, with virtually no current, is a different story, and the Tribune has a solution for that as well:  “Place one or half a dozen pumps, if necessary, driven by wind mills on the Lake shore, at or near the north end of the old cemetery, and let the water be discharged in a ditch running due west into the North Branch.  Let the pumps be of the largest size, and such are now used upon our railroads.”   How different North Avenue would be today if instead of its popular beach and nautical-themed boathouse it was the site of a half-dozen windmills, churning away in the Windy City, pumping lake water west to the river.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

June 25, 1953 -- Frederic Clay Bartlett Dies



June 25, 1953 – Federic Clay Bartlett dies at his home in Beverly, Massachusetts at the age of 80.  Bartlett was born in Chicago in 1873 and at the age of 19, instead of pursuing a university degree, he headed for Europe to study art.  He returned to the city at the age of 27 and took up professional residence in the Fine Arts building, from where he worked on notable commissions for murals at the University of Chicago and the University Club of Chicago.  Bartlett’s first wife, Dora, died in 1917, and in 1920 he married Helen Louise Birch, a relationship that led to a life of art collecting, in which the couple amassed an impressive array French avant-garde paintings.  In 1924 Bartlett became a trustee of the Art Institute of Chicago, and with the museum in mind the Bartlett’s made what would be their single-most important acquisition, purchasing George Seurat’s Sunday Morning on the Island of La Grande Jatte, the work of an artist that up to that time had not been represented in any major collection.  When Helen Birch Bartlett died in 1925, Bartlett presented the collection of paintings the two had assembled to the Art Institute of Chicago, and a part of the Helen Birch Bartlett Memorial Collection has been on display ever since.  In reacting to the artist’s death the director of the Art Institute, Daniel Catton Rich, says, “Frederic Bartlett was talented as a painter and it was with a painter’s eye that he judged the great French art of this period … He and his wife built up a collection of remarkable quality.  The center of the Birch Bartlett collection is Seurat’s great mural-like painting … This has sometimes been called the greatest painting of the nineteenth century … Frederic Bartlett gave a gallery of these paintings to the Art Institute in 1925.  This became the first room of modern art in any American museum … It remains as a monument to its generous collector, the rare example of a group of paintings gathered with deep knowledge, taste, and warm understanding.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, June 26, 1953] Bartlett and Helen Birch Bartlett are pictured above.


June 25, 1912 – President Charles H. Markham of the Illinois Central Railroad heads for New York with a copy of a new contract between the railroad and the Chicago south park commissioners that is designed to bring about electrification of the line’s suburban service within five years. This is a BIG DEAL for the city.  The railroad agrees to remove its Twelfth Street station east of Indiana Avenue, allowing for the widening of Indiana Avenue from Thirteenth to Twelfth Street, thus providing space for the proposed Field Museum.  The I. C. will also provide a 40-foot wide piece of land to the city on the east side of Michigan Avenue south of Twelfth Street so that Michigan Avenue may be widened at that point.  The contract states, “. . . that no building of any dimensions whatever, excepting such as may be required for passenger service accommodation and the like, shall be directed or maintained upon any part of the right of way between a line 500 feet north of Twenty-ninth street and Fifty-first street, and that this portion of the right of way shall not be used as a railroad yard, or for the storage of cars, locomotives, or equipment, or be put to any use except for the passage of trains, and that there shall not be erected upon this portion of the right of ways any advertising signs or other obstructions to the view of the adjacent property or lands.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, June 24, 1912]  With this understanding in place, another step is taken in providing unobstructed green space along the lake shore.  The photo above, taken in 1893, shows the Van Buren Street terminal in what today is Grant Park with the Illinois Central station and office building to the left of the photo in the distance.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

June 24, 1930 -- Lane Technical High School Begins Its New Building



June 24, 1930 – The first scoop of dirt is dug at the southwest corner of Addison Street and Western Avenue, and the construction of the $5,000,000 Lane Technical High School is under way.  Ten thousand people are on hand as Alderman John J. Hoellen of the Forty-Seventh Ward pulls a lever in a steam shovel to get the work started.  High schools represented at the ceremony include Tilden, Crane, Austin, Lake View, Senn and Schurz.  Lane Tech Principal Grant Beebe says, “Lane has taken a place in the educational system that is national and international.  We long ago outgrew our facilities and now our needs have been answered.  The place a technical school fills in American civilization is shown by the records of our graduates.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, June 25, 1930] The school replaces an earlier school that stood at Division and Sedgwick and is named after Albert Grannis Lane.  Born in Chicago in 1841, Lane became the youngest principal in the history of the Chicago public school system, later serving as Superintendent of Schools in Cook County and as the President of the National Education Association.  The photo above shows the great school under construction as the 1930's begin.


June 24, 1942 – The State’s Attorney files a foreclosure suit against the Auditorium building at 430 South Michigan Avenue as plans move forward to auction the building’s art and furnishings.  The building, with its combined hotel, theater, and offices, owes $1,346,584 in county taxes and penalties.  Plans are for the property to be sold to the highest bidder within 60 days.  If no buyer is willing to buy the building for a significant portion of the amount owed in back taxes, the county controller is authorized to bid on the building for the amount of those taxes.  If that occurs and the owners do not repay that amount within two years, the property can then be sold to the highest bidder who will receive a clear title.  Everything will go – theater scenery, 3,665 seats, glassware from the bar, even the chairs from the boxes where the elite of Chicago society once sat to escape the smoke and the smell of the city.