Thursday, August 17, 2017

August 17, 1982 -- Chicago Library Chooses Goldblatt's for New Home




August 17, 1982 – Preliminary plans for transforming Goldblatt’s closed store on State Street into the Chicago Public Library are unveiled at the library Board of Director’s meeting.  City architect Joseph Casserly declares that a plaza at the Jackson Street entrance to the building is part of “a design that will give a new, highly imaginative identity to the building.” [Chicago Tribune, August 18, 1982] The plan also has the city demolishing the Kee Department Store on the corner of Jackson Boulevard and State Street, thereby making a Jackson Boulevard entrance to the library feasible.  It is anticipated that the main library will begin moving its collection into the renovated department store sometime in January of 1984.  The top photo shows an artist's rendering of what the converted department store would look like once it became the new main library.  The photo below that shows how close the new library on State Street south of Van Buren is to the proposed Goldblatt's conversion.


August 17, 1950 – A homeless Navy veteran, James Wagster, 45, leaps into the Chicago River from the Lake Shore Drive Bridge, setting in motion a remarkable series of events that ultimately save him from death.  Birdell Grant, 28, comes upon Wagster as he stands on the bridge, looking down at the water.  Grant, just released from the prison at Statesville and having been rejected for jobs at 25 places, asks Wagster for directions to an office where he could apply for work as a stevedore.  Wagster’s answer is a question . . . he asks Grant if he has a drink on him.  When Grant replies that he dioes not, Wagster announces that he is going to get one and jumps from the bridge.  Grant, who suffers from a bone ailment for which he has undergone five operations, runs down the bridge stairs to the water’s edge, removing his shirt and shoes on the way, and jumps in the water, suffering cramps just as he reaches Wagster.  Two passing motorists hear the commotion and they, too, jump in the water and swim 60 yards to the two men.  By that time the two bridge tenders, Jack Northrup and Leo Loughran, toss life preservers to the men and a Coast Guard boat arrives to help all four men ashore.  In his efforts Grant loses his last 15 cents;  one of the bridge tenders gives him money for his transportation back home.  Wearing only shorts and wrapped in a police blanket, Wagster, when asked in South State Street Court why he had jumped, tells the judge, “Judge, I must be crazy.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, August 17, 1950]

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

August 16, 1893 -- Art Institute and Armour Institute Establish Architecture School




August 16, 1893 – The Chicago Daily Tribune reports that the Art Institute of Chicago and the Armour Institute have joined forces “for the purpose of establishing in Chicago a full and thorough course of study in architecture.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, August 16, 1893] W. M. R. French will direct the Art Institute coursework, and the Reverend F. W. Gunsaulus will handle the work for the Armour Institute.  The Art Institute library in 1893 had 1,300 books and 19,000 photographs with 200 books and 1,000 photographs relating directly to the subject of architecture.  The Armour Institute had 10,000 volumes in its library as well as physical and chemical laboratories and courses of study in electricity, mining, and mechanical engineering.  Director French says of the decision, “The Armour Institute, under the Presidency of the Rev. F. W. Gunsalulus, has laid out courses of technical study of the highest order. The departments of mechanical engineering, electricity, civil engineering, etc., are equal to those of the Institute of Technology of Boston, and the laboratories, shops, library, and appliances are in accord with the most approved and modern practice in technical schools.  There are already 500 applicants to enter the various departments upon the opening of the first school year, Sept. 14.”  William French is shown above at the easel. Reverend Gunsaulus is the man at the desk in the right photo.


August 16, 1978 – In an editorial the Chicago Tribune states its opposition to a recommendation by the Chicago branch of the American Association of Architects that a way be found to preserve Chicago’s Loop elevated structure.  The paper asserts, “Anyone who finds a resemblance between Chicago’s elevated and San Francisco’s cable cars must have been standing at Lake and Wabash so long that the screeching has softened his brain.  No way can the “L” be considered charming, quaint, fun, or attractive to visitors . . . There is no good reason, either sensible or sentimental, to preserve the “L” one day longer than is economically unavoidable.  The noisy, dirty eyesore is of no architectural value and will interfere with the practical and esthetic pleasures and profitability of both the State Street mall and the North Loop renewal plan.”     

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

August 15, 1860 -- Fire Department Adds Steam



August 15, 1860 – The Chicago Press and Tribune provides its annual review of the city’s fire department, introducing its inventory with a homage to “the gallant wearers of red shirts and fire hats, that on the occasion of a jingling of wild bells in an alarm of fire, used to start up from all corners and nooks, and come dashing up areas and round corners …”  [Chicago Press and Tribune, August 14, 1860] The fire department took a leap forward in 1858 when it purchased the first steam-powered fire engine, dubbed the “Long John” after the nickname of the mayor, “Long John” Wentworth.  In the two years that followed, “… hand machines have been sold to other cities, costly hose carts have sought the rural districts to be the wonder of the smaller communities, the steam machines with a few hand engines and hose carts located in different remote sections of the city …” constitute the fire department, manned by paid professionals.  With just a few strokes of a bell, the paper reports, “… in less than two minutes steam engines with attendant hose carriages … all drawn by over thirty powerful horses are in the streets moving at a hard gallop toward the scene of conflagration.”  A partial inventory of the department includes: (1) The Long John, drawn by four horses and housed on LaSalle Street near Washington.  The engine has a force of eleven men, including an engineer, a fireman, two drivers, five pipemen, and an engine house watchman.  (2) The Enterprise, a Seneca Falls machine housed on State Street near Harrison, drawn by four horses with the same complement of personnel as the Long John.  (3) The Atlantic, a Seneca Falls machine housed on Michigan Avenue near the river with four horses and a force of eleven.  (4) The Island Queen, a third Seneca Falls machine, housed on West Lake Street with four horses and a crew of eleven.  (5) The U. P. Harris, a Philadelphia machine, housed on Jackson Street near Clinton on the west side with four horses and eleven crew members.  (6) The Little Giant, a moskeag machine, housed on Dearborn Street near Washington with two horses and eleven crew members.  The Long John, with forty pounds of stem pressure, could produce four streams of water through 100 feet of hose horizontally 150 feet; with sixty pounds of steam pressure two streams of water could be thrown 160 feet horizontally. The machine weighed five tons and cost about $5,000.  The Long John is shown in the above photo.


August 15, 1911 – As 50,000 watch the third day of the Aero meet being held in Grant Park, two accidents take the lives of aviators and silence the crowds.  Mike Badger of Pittsburgh, flying a Baldwin biplane, diesas he executes a low-level flyover of Grant Park, ending with a dramatic climb that tears his plane apart.  The plane falls 50 feet and the wealthy daredevil dies at St. Luke’s Hospital.  St. Croix Johnstone, flying a Moisant monoplane, dies as his plane falls into Lake Michigan a little after 6:00 p.m. about a mile off shore opposite Twelfth Street.  He is attempting to do a corkscrew maneuver when 800 feet above the lake the “spidery monoplane tipped a bit, shot downward with a sickening swoop, overturning just before it splashed In the water.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, August 16, 1911]   Before he goes up on that day, Badger holds a wide-ranging interview with a Tribune reporter, saying, “That’s the nuttiest idea people have about aviators.  They think they don’t mind death at all.  Why, I set just as much store by my life as you do.  I love life.  They think we go out of our way to invite death.  They say we don’t take ordinary precautions.  I don’t consider that I take one chance in 10,000 with my life . . . You must be sure of your machine.  I am sure of mine.  You must be sure of your good muscle and your clear brain.  I am sure of mine.”