Thursday, October 20, 2016

October 20, 1900 -- Weather Vane Placed atop the Montgomery Ward Tower

October 20, 1900 – Progress Lighting the Way for Commerce, a statue over 21 feet in height, is lowered into place on top of the Montgomery Ward headquarters at 6 North Michigan Avenue.  It is not intended merely to sit atop the building; it will function as a weather vane that “obeys every change of the wind.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, October 21, 1900]  Richard Schmidt, the architect who designed the building, oversees the placement of the statue.  The figure is that of a young woman who holds a flaming torch in her right hand and a caduceus, or a short staff intertwined with two snakes, in her left.  In Roman mythology Mercury, who was the messenger of the gods, and the protector of merchants, shepherds, gamblers, liars and thieves, is often seen carrying a caduceus in his left hand.  Scottish-American sculptor John Massey Rhind was the artist who created the piece.  The statue was taken down in 1947 and cut into nearly three-dozen pieces.  Some of those pieces probably still sit in parlors all over the city.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

October 19, 1890 -- Tribune Tells the I. C. to Shove Over

October 19, 1890 – In an editorial the Chicago Daily Tribune takes on the Illinois Central Railroad over its use of lakefront property.  As the city prepares for “its grand building which is to house art treasures” [Chicago Daily Tribune, October 19, 1890] the battle over lakefront property, long occupied by the railroad, becomes more and more heated.  The paper declares, “When the time comes for filling the submerged lands out to the dock line and making a park for the benefit of the city and State the Illinois Central should be required to do the work and foot the bill, and it need not cost Chicago a cent.”  At this point the Illinois Central operated on a trestle built above the lake, running parallel to Michigan Avenue.  The paper’s argument is to let the railroad fill in the space between the trestle and dry land, create new land east of the trestle, and fill in the space between the existing tracks and the land to the west.  It says of the arrangement, “If a fair arrangement were made between the road and the city the latter would get much-needed room for new tracks, depots, warehouses, and elevators.  Its receipts from leases and from its regular business would be increased.  The State would be a gainer, for its 7 per cent on the gross income of the road would be larger.  Chicago would be a gainer, for it would have on the front of the city a fine park two miles long.  The Art Building would look all the handsomer for the broad open space to the east of it.  By raising the surface of the park a little above street grade and depressing the tracks on the new right of way a few feet only the tops of the cars and engines could be seen from Michigan avenue and the esthetes would rejoice.”  The trick is to get the railroad to find the $5,000,000 and the civic generosity to agree to the plan.  The above photo shows the Illinois Central lakefront trestle at the right and the lagoon to the west, somewhat north of where today's Art Institute stands.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

October 18, 1977 -- Prince Charles Arrives

October 18, 1977 --  “By Gawd. They do clear it off, don’t they . . .”  That was the reaction of a British reporter covering the visit of His Royal Highness, Charles, the Prince of Wales to Chicago as official vehicles carrying the Prince, his entourage, Mayor Michael Bilandic and Governor James Thompson scream down the Kennedy expressway “leaving an increasing snarl beyond the cement red carpet.”  [Chicago Tribune, October 19, 1977]  The Medinah Highlanders bagpipe and drum corps, playing Scotland the Brave, meet the Prince as he emerges from his British airways jet at 4:23 p.m.  Eighteen minutes later the Prince is at the Drake Hotel “genuinely glad to be in Chicago and willing to display his well-publicized wit.”  Later in the evening the heir to the British throne enjoys a private dinner hosted by British consul-general in Chicago, John Heath and his wife.  A full day’s schedule is set for the following day with a tour of Chicago’s Loop, a walk through the Art Institute, and a luncheon at the University of Chicago scheduled before a dinner at the Palmer House at which the Prince will be made a citizen of Chicago.  The above photo shows His Royal Highness at the University of Chicago the day after his arrival.

Monday, October 17, 2016

October 17, 1933 -- Piracy on Lake Michigan Leads to Jail

October 17, 1933 – The first man to be jailed for attempted piracy on Lake Michigan is sentenced to six years in the federal penitentiary by Federal Judge James H. Wilkerson.  The United States District Attorney is able to show that the 28-year-old man, Joseph Pennick, boarded a boat at the Wrigley building and rode it to the Century of Progress World’s Fair on the lakefront.  On the return trip, at a point about a mile off Roosevelt Road, Pennick pulled out a revolver and ordered the pilot of the boat to surrender his cash.  The pilot, James M. Nester, and another passenger overpowered Pennick, but not before he got off two shots, one of which grazed the passenger’s head.  Pennick’s plea was that he had been drinking.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

October 16, 1943 -- Chicago's First Subway Opened

Chicagoans Wait to Buy Tickets for the New Subway on October 16, 1943
(CEFA Archives)
October 16, 1943 – At 10:48 a. m. a ribbon is cut at State and Madison and Chicago’s first subway, first proposed in the Chicago Plan of 1909, opens for business.  The ceremony begins with a parade that takes an hour to pass the reviewing stand on State Street.  As Mayor Kelly gets ready to cut the ribbon, Subway Commissioner Philip Harrington, says, “I am proud to inform you and the people of Chicago on behalf of the engineering staff of the department of subways and its contractors, that Chicago’s first subway is complete, ready for operation.  I can assure you of the thoroness [sic] and durability of this structure and the safety of its equipment.  This subway compares more than favorably with any of the other undergrounds in the country.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, October 17, 1943]  This first phase of the city’s comprehensive subway system starts at Armitage and Clybourn Avenues on the north and extends to a point between Sixteenth and Seventeenth Streets under State Street.