Friday, October 20, 2017

October 20, 1975 -- Water Tower Place Opens

October 20, 1975 – Branches of Marshall Field and Company and Lord and Taylor open for business on the first eight levels of the new Water Tower Place, the 74-story skyscraper on North Michigan Avenue.  Lines begin forming at 8 a.m. at the doors of the “vertical shopping center” [Chicago Tribune, October 21, 1975] and crowds inside both stores are so large employees have trouble getting to their posts.  “We couldn’t be more pleased,” says Arthur E. Osborne, Vice-President and General Manager of the Marshall Field’s stores in the Chicago area.  “We’re just as excited about this as anything we’ve ever done.  There are wall-to-wall people …”  Charles Siegmann, Vice-President and Regional Managing Director of Lord and Taylor, says, “I’m running out of superlatives.  We knew it was going to be great, but never anything like this. I’ve never seen such great-looking people, the way they’re dressed and how friendly and gracious they are.  This is probably the biggest thrill our company has ever had.  And it’s just amazing the number of men who are here.”  The complex is a joint development of Urban Investment and Development, a subsidiary of Aetna Life and Casualty Company, and Mafco, a subsidiary of Marshall Field and Company.  Architect Edward D. Dart of Loebl, Scholssman, Bennett and Dart is the leading architect on the project.

October 20, 1900 – Progress Lighting the Way for Commerce, a statue over 21 feet in height, is lowered into place atop 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 may still sit in parlors all over the city.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

October 19, 1971 -- Chicago Stock Exchange Loses Final Battle

October 19, 1971 -- The final attempt to save the old Chicago Stock Exchange building fails as Judge Edward J. Egan of the Circuit Court rules against a petition to force City Council action on the recommendation of the Chicago Landmarks Commission that the building be designated a landmark.  When the decision is announced, the president of the Landmarks Preservation Council, Richard Miller, says, “if we do not have any encouragement from the mayor’s office, we will not appeal.” [Chicago Tribune, October 20, 1971] The building, located at the corner of Washington Boulevard and Monroe Street, was designed by Dankmar Adler and Louis Sullivan. It will be gone by the end of 1972 although its entrance arch and trading room are preserved at the Art Institute of Chicago.  Preservationist and photo-journalist Richard Nickel took this photo of the Stock Exchange trading room, now preserved at the Art Institute of Chicago.  It would be 22 days before his body would be found in the rubble of the demolished building.

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 time 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.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

October 18, 1916 -- South Park Board Offers Site for Aquarium

October 18, 1916 -- The South Park Board at its monthly meeting agrees to offer a site in Grant Park on which an aquarium can be built.  It is estimated that the “greatest public aquarium in the country” [Chicago Daily Tribune, October 19, 1916] will cost approximately $250,000, of which Julius Rosenwald, the head of Sears, Roebuck and Company, has agreed to contribute $100,000.  The head of the Chicago Aquarium Society, Seth Lindahl, says, “It is now only a question of means to the end.”  It will be awhile before that end is reached.  The aquarium does not open until May of 1930 and the costs of construction eventually rise to over $3,000,000.  The above photo shows the aquarium taking shape in 1928.

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.