Sunday, February 17, 2019

February 17, 1926 -- Art Institute of Chicago Gains Deering Collection
February 17, 1926 – A list of the paintings that the late James Deering, the former vice-president of the International Harvester Company left to the Art Institute of Chicago, is filed in Probate Court.  The paintings are valued at $522,000.  The collection includes four Giovanni Ballesta Tiepolo works valued at $100,000 each.  They include “Rinaldo Enchanted by Armida,” “Rinaldo and Armida in the Garden,” Armita Abandoned by Rinaldo,” and “Rinaldo and the Hermit.”  Édouard Manet’s “Christ Insulted” is valued at $125,000.  Two other paintings complete the inventory, “Mother and Child” by Gari Melchers and Walter McEwen’s “La Madeleine”.  Tiepolo's "Rinaldo Enchanted by Armida" is represented in the above photo.

February 17, 1889 – At 8:30 a.m. a tremendous crash occurs within the Owings building on the southeast corner of Dearborn and Adams Streets, a sound so deafening that people in the area make “a panic-stricken dash for the opposite sidewalks” and “a horse attached to a milk-cart [runs] off and dumps the milk cans.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, February 18, 1889] Nine sub-floors between the main staircase of the building and the elevator shaft have pancaked and fallen all the way to the basement where three building workers huddle together, amazed that they have survived.  A day earlier 125 workmen had been in the building, and a group of them had raised an 1,800-pound piece of equipment that was to sit on the roof as high as the tenth floor, where it was left secured, five floors short of its destination.  It is those ten floors of fire-proofing tile that collapse on this Sunday morning; the five floors above are left undamaged.  Subsequent investigation reveals little about the origin of the accident.  One theory is that the one-ton piece of equipment got stuck on a girder beneath the tenth floor, and as workmen tried to free it with crowbars, they managed to loosen the tenth floor which fell to the floor below, causing the lower floors to cascade into the basement.  Another theory is that the equipment actually made it to the top of the building from where it fell, dislodging a beam on the tenth floor.  However it happened, everyone agreed it was fortunate that the accident occurred on a Sunday.  One of the building’s architects, Charles Summer Frost (the same guy who designed the older buildings at Navy Pier) uses the event to play up the strength of his tall building.  Says Frost, “Not a hair’s breadth of disturbance has taken place in the walls.  The plastering isn’t cracked in a single spot.  The tile partitions of the interior are in perfect plumb.  A splendid proof of the absolute solidity of the building – that’s what the accident amounts to.”  The Owings Building, which had offices primarily used by financial and coal companies, along with professional men, cost $475,000 to construct and is shown in the above photo.

February 17, 1928 -- “A great crowd” [Chicago Daily Tribune, February 18, 1928] streams through the gates of the Dearborn Street station to greet the Santa Fe Chief as it stops on its way to New York, bearing the body of comedian Eddie Foy to his final resting place in New Rochelle.  Six of his children greet the train, along with his manager, Harold Munnis, his latest partner, Monica Skelly, and his wife, who is “so grief-stricken that she had to be carried from the train.”  It was Foy who was performing in a Wednesday matinee performance of “Mr. Blue Beard” at the five-week-old Iroquois Theater in December of 1903 when fire broke out after a spotlight short-circuited.  The day after the fire claimed 500 lives the Chicago Daily Tribune wrote of Foy’s bravery, “The coolness of Foy, of the orchestra leaders and of other players, who begged the audience to hold itself in check, however, probably saved many lives on the parquet floor … Those in greatest danger through proximity to the stage did not throw their weight against the mass ahead.  Not any died on the first floor, proof of the contention that some restraint existed in this section of the audience.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, December 22, 1903]  Chicagoans did not forget Foy’s heroic actions even after a quarter-century had elapsed.  The photos above show Mr. Foy as well as the character he played in Mr. Blue Beard, Sister Anne.

February 17, 1885 -- Item from The Chicago Daily Tribune: "Mr. John Root, of the firm of Burnham & Root, delivered the third lecture of a course before the Art Institute last evening. His thoughts on architecture were expressed in rather technical language. He explained the necessity of simplicity, repose, and proportion in buildings; also how poorly-constructed chimneys accumulated soot. He illustrated his remarks with diagrams and pictures. About 150 people were present." What must it have been like to have been one of those 150 fortunate souls? Root's remarks would have been made at the second home of the Art Institute, pictured above, on the southwest corner of Van Buren and Michigan Avenue, a building designed by Burnham & Root and which is now occupied by the Chicago Club.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

February 16, 1863 -- Chicago Tribune Decries Lakefront Burial Site

hidden truths,
February 16, 1863 – An editorial in the Chicago Tribune laments the conditions at Camp Douglas, an area of the city that lies along the lakefront south of the business district in which a camp has been established to imprison Confederate prisoners-of-war. The editorial points with alarm at the fact that “The great increase of mortality at Camp Douglas … now brings another source of impurity to light, of a most alarming nature, and one which threatens the most alarming consequences, unless it is immediately remedied.” [Chicago Tribune, February 16, 1863]   Since the establishment of Camp Douglas in early 1862, the editorial observes, 640 bodies of rebel soldiers have been buried in Potter’s Field, an area that today we know as the green space of Lincoln Park – this despite an 1859 ordinance that forbade the sale of family plots in the city cemetery just west of Potter’s Field.  On top of this the county poor house, located several miles west of the city, has been sending its deceased residents to the cemetery.  “It must not be forgotten,” the editorial states, “that our cemetery is intersected, north and south, by this slough, which drains the whole cemetery; and that it discharges a little north of the City Water Works, which supply the entire city, north, south and west, with the water they daily consume.”  A strongly worded conclusion to the piece cries out for action, “It has been enough to endure the yet unremedied impurity and corruption of the river.  But the wisdom of our City Fathers, inadequate, as yet, for the relief of that foul source of corruption, is now willing to add to the already corrupted waters we daily drink, the yet more foul and subtle elements of death, exuding from our cemetery, almost into the very pipes which carry the element of life or death into every household.”  It is difficult to believe that in the quiet park land of Lincoln Park today there once were in excess of 15,000 bodies buried in this Potter's Field. 

February 16, 1879 – The Chicago Daily Tribune prints a special dispatch from the London Telegraph in which the British paper is “highly eulogistic of the City of Chicago.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, February 16, 1879] Pointing out the city’s amazing growth – from wilderness 50 years earlier to a city of 500,000 inhabitants – the paper observes, “…the record of Chicago leaves San Francisco, St. Louis, Cincinnati, and Melbourne far in the lurch … It is, indeed, the proud boast of some among its aspiring citizens that, within the lifetime of children recently born, Chicago will in population be the second city of the Anglo-Saxon race, and will be surpassed in this respect by London alone.”  The article speaks in amazement of the city’s commerce … in the preceding year 130,000,000 bushels of grain were handled in the city, along with 1,200,000,000 feet of lumber and 6,200,000 hogs. Despite its impressive growth and commerce, the Telegraph points out two fatal flaws at the end of the article.  First, is the city’s financial position. “We read without surprise,” the paper reports, “that the ‘City Fathers’ have piled up so big a municipal debt that, in a community as sanguine and progressive as any in the world, no more money can be borrowed on any terms.”  Also mentioned is the crime that plagues the city.  The Telegraph observes, “…  the question asked again and again by our Chicago contemporaries, ‘Have we a police force?’ derives additional significance from the street robberies, which seem to be of constant occurrence.”  Given those two negatives, the London paper concludes that the city “…cannot yet be regarded as an attractive home for civilized Europeans.”

February 16, 1944 – Gordon L. Pirie, vice-president and general manager of Carson Pirie Scott and Company, dies of heart disease in the Presbyterian Hospital.  Pirie’s condition has been dire for several days, and as he lingers near death his sister ALSO dies at her winter home in Plymouth, Florida.  Pirie graduated from Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute and worked in various retail stores before he came to Chicago to join his father, the founder of the store in which his name played a prominent part.  Pirie was a member of the executive committee of the American Retail Federation, treasurer of the North Shore Property Owners association, chairman of the committee on transportation and traffic of the State Street Council, and former director of the Association of Commerce.  He was also a trustee of the Winnetka Congregational Church.  [Chicago Daily Tribune, February 17, 1944]

ebruary 16, 1954 -- Ralph Budd, chairman of the Chicago Transit Authority, proposes a plan for extending the city's rapid transit system. The greatest share of the plan involves adding to the city's rapid transit system by constructing rights of way for rail operation as part of the network of proposed super-highways. Mayor Kennelly calls the proposal "remarkable." Arthur T. Leonard, president of the Chicago Association of Commerce, calls the plan "both challenging and constructive." Observe the Red Line as you drive on the Dan Ryan or the Green Line along the Kennedy or the Blue Line running parallel to the Eisenhower, and you will see Budd's proposal at work today, the first time, at least in this country, when rapid transit was planned as an integral part of an urban highway system.

Friday, February 15, 2019

February 15, 2011 -- Sullivan Center Gets a Target
February 15, 2011 –Target Corp. announces plans to open a store in the Sullivan Center at 1 South State Street, a space that has stood empty since Carson Pirie Scott closed its State Street store four years earlier.  The retailer will lease 124,000 square feet of the building, part os which will be composed of 54,000 feet of selling space on two floors.  Mayor Daley says of the decision, “I applaud Target for bringing this urban store concept to Chicago, as well as the new jobs and economic opportunity this store will create.  Target will be an important addition to State Street, one of Chicago’s most important retail centers, and will be located in one of the city’s most architecturally significant buildings.” [Chicago Tribune, February 16, 2011]  The city has spent $24.4 million in tax-increment-financing to help restore the building, an architectural masterpiece designed by Louis Sullivan.  Chicago developer Joseph Freed and Associates, the owner of the building, has spent another $190 million on the structure over the preceding decade.

February 15, 1880 – The Chicago Daily Tribune reports that the triangular block lying between North Avenue, La Salle Street, North Clark Street, and Eugenie Street has been sold to H. A. Hurlbut for $100,000.  Close to the horse cars and adjacent to Lincoln Park, the property “has had no charms for the speculator or investor” [Chicago Daily Tribune, February 15, 1880], but plans are now in place to build a private residence between Clark and La Salle south of Eugenie Street and a dozen residences, six on each side of the triangular tract, just south of that home.  The houses “will have marble fronts, and will be three stories high, besides basement, with a frontage of 20 and 22 feet.”  The area in question has not seen development, despite its excellent location, because no single buyer was willing to risk such an investment without knowledge of what would be built on the adjoining lots.  “Now that the whole property has passed into a single hand,” the Tribune reports, “… this quarter will certainly take its place as one of the most eligible residence spots in the city.  People who live there will have a marine view of the lake, over the trees of the park, not to be rivaled by anything else in Chicago.  They will be in the continuation of the most fashionable thoroughfare of the North Division, and within easy distance of the heart of the city.”  The “Old Town Triangle,” purchased for a hundred-grand back In 1880 is within the red boundary shown above.  Today the Moody Church, a couple of gas stations and a bank occupy the property.

February 15, 1935 – Louis H. Skidmore, the man in charge of the demolition of the buildings at the Century of Progress exposition, announces that work will begin on clearing the site.  The buildings that are to be demolished originally cost over $10,000,000 and include the Sky Ride, the Hall of Science, the Home Planning, Food and Agriculture buildings, the States building, the Dairy building, the Wings of a Century theater, the Electrical building, and the Lagoon Fountain.  Although the wrecking company is based in Springfield, the 500 men working on the razing of the buildings will all be hired in Chicago.  Remaining on the site will be the Administration building, Fort Dearborn, the Lagoon Theater, the DuSable cabin, and the boardwalk around the lagoons.

February 15, 1933 -- Postmaster General Walter F. Brown dedicates the world's largest post office in a ceremony that includes speeches, singing and music by the post office band in the lobby of the building's Van Buren Street entrance. In his remarks Brown says, "A few less than 7,000 workers normally will spend about one-third of their adult lives in this building. Here will be sorted and dispatched 6,500,000 letters and circulars, 300,000 packages and 80,000 sacks of newspaper and parcel post, which originate in Chicago each week, destined for every part of the globe."

Thursday, February 14, 2019

February 14, 1991 -- Lincoln Park Gun Club Takes Its Last Shot

February 14, 1991 –The Chicago Park District orders the Lincoln Park Gun Club to stop operating.  The club at 1901 North Lake Shore Drive has been a home to skeet and trap shooters since 1912, but in the preceding week Illinois Attorney General Roland Burris filed suit against it, charging violations of pollution laws. Chicago Park District Superintendent Robert C. Penn says, “While I appreciate the cooperative spirit and willingness of the club to recognize the problem, their good-faith efforts are simply not enough to save Lake Michigan and protect our beaches from the environmental hazards caused by gun deposits.” [Chicago Tribune, February 15, 1991]  The club’s president, Fred Lappe, says, “I do not believe that we will open again.  Our members may wish to spend monies that we would have spent on a clean-up for litigation.” It is estimated that there are 400 tons of lead at the bottom of the lake near the club.  Two years earlier club members had paid $32,000 for water and soil testing along the lakefront east of the club and had even found a company that would remove the lead.  The park district, however, would not let the workboat involved in the operation dock in nearby Belmont Harbor, requiring it to travel over an hour to reach the site. That ended the operation.  A spokesman for the Lake Michigan Federation says, “There are two issues here.  One is the cleanup, and the second is the ongoing discharge.  We have to object to the continuing discharge of lead shot into the lake.”

Charles Tyson Yerkes
February 14, 1887 – With ordinances before the Chicago City Council that would allow Charles Tyson Yerkes to lay streetcar tracks on Jackson Boulevard from Market to Dearborn, on Market Street, from Jackson to Monroe, on Monroe Street, from Market to Dearborn, on Dearborn, from Polk to Michigan, and on Randolph Street from La Salle to Dearborn, the Chicago Daily Tribune prints an editorial against the proposition.  “If it can be carried out,” the article protests, “every rod of thoroughfare in the business portion of the city, except the two blocks on Monroe street between Wabash avenue and Dearborn street, and the same length on Jackson street, will be tracked and double-tracked, and, in some instances, treble-tracked.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, February 14, 1887] “Mr. Yerkes talks confidently about the certainty of obtaining the approval of the Council for his ordinances,” the editorial concludes. “And he probably has knowledge whereof he speaks.  There is not a word about giving the city any equivalent for those invaluable franchises.  It is to be hoped, however, that there is yet sufficient honesty in the Council to delay if not altogether to defeat the Philadelphian’s plans.” The scheme would ultimately fall apart, and it would not be until 1897 that the Loop elevated line would be completed.  Two years later Yerkes would liquidate all of his shares in the Chicago transit empire he began in 1886 when he arrived in the city, and say farewell to a city that he had come to hate.

February 14, 1882 – At least 1,000 employees of the Pullman Company go on strike after timekeepers notify them that they will be required immediately to pay their own fare to the company’s works on Illinois Central trains.  Passes had been issued on the trains free-of-charge, but the company says that the passes have cost about $8,000 a month since the company moved its manufacturing to a planned community named after its founder.  To say the least, the whole matter could have been handled more judiciously.  According to the Chicago Daily Tribune, “When the man to whom the distribution of the tickets was intrusted went around among the men he demanded not only that they should buy then and there, but also that each man should lay in a supply for six days in advance, paying cash for the same.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, February 15, 1882] Since the company had also recently changed the paydays from semi-monthly to monthly, a great number of workers were unprepared for the new expense.  The painters and carpenters struck immediately.  700 workers congregated as Mr. D. A. Grey climbed up on a bench and began to speak . . . “It was the old story,” he said, “of the conflict between capital and labor, and it resulted from the attempt of capital to ignore the value of labor.  The official who drew his princely salary of thousands did not appear to understand the situation of the man who was compelled to get up at 4 o’clock in the morning, snatch a hasty breakfast by candle-light, walk, it may be, a couple of miles to catch the train, ride fourteen miles in a dirty smoking-car, often standing all the way, work steadily and hard for nine hours—for which he received 27½ cents an hour—then ride fourteen miles back; in the dirty car, paying his own fare, and be obliged to wait a month for the wages due him.”  After an appointed committee met with company managers, its members returned to the waiting throng and reported the company was steadfast in its determination to charge the men for their railroad fare.   A worker jumped from the crowd and proclaimed, “The whole thing is just this, boys:  All we want is fair play.  I don’t think it is fair play to charge us for our fare out here, and I put it to a vote.  Shall we stand it?”  Greeted with a loud chorus of dissent, he continued, “Then I’ll tell you what to do.  Let every man pack up his kit, and if when the manager comes he isn’t willing to change the order, why we will all go home and find work somewhere else.  I think this country is big enough and fertile enough to give every man a living who is willing to work.”  Less than two years after Pullman began its bold experimental planned community for workers, a decade of give-and-take between management of the company and its employees begins, ten years of tension that would ultimately lead to the great show-down of 1892.  The Pullman Market Building, shown above, is the site at which the angry workers gathered.

February 14, 1903 -- Addressing the members of the Merchants' Club, Architect Daniel Burnham describes his vision of a Chicago that includes parks and lagoons, gardens, forests, and broad carriage ways.  Burnham urges those present to ensure that the lake be made a beauty spot that would, according to The Chicago Daily Tribune, "keep at home the millions that are spent by Chicagoans at Venice, Paris, and other beauty spots of the old world." The president of the Merchants' Club, Alexander Agnew McCormick, adds, "The Merchants' club is not committed and will not be committed to any fixed plan for converting the lake front into a park, but it does insist that the submerged lands along the lake shore shall be dedicated for a public park, to be used exclusively for a park. No buildings are contemplated in the general plan."

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

February 13, 1954 -- Astor Street Residence Sells
February 13, 1954 – The Chicago Daily Tribune reports that Nancy Florsheim Goldberg, the wife of architect Bertram Goldberg and the daughter of Irving S. Florsheim, the head of the Florsheim Shoe Company, has purchased a 19-room residence at 1518 Astor Street, paying $65,000 for the property.  The seller is Walter L. Mead, vice-president of the Consolidated Water and Power and Paper Company, who bought it in 1940 for $50,000.  In 2014 Nicholas Pritzker, the CEO of Hyatt Development, listed the mansion for $9.995 million.  At the time this was the third most expensive home for sale within the city.  Pritzker had owned the home for over 20 years.

February 13, 1901 – Carrie Nation leaves Chicago at 10:00 p.m. on a Santa Fe train bound for Topeka, Kansas.  In the preceding 12 hours she as led a whirlwind tour of the city in her temperance crusade as she “visits saloons, lecturing and threatening, and calls on the Mayor, who is ‘out.’” [Chicago Daily Tribune, February 14, 1901] Despite feeling ill when she awakes at 5:30 a.m., she is in the saloon of Harry McCall at 152 Dearborn Street by mid-morning, where she immediately asks the bartenders to clothe a nude statue in the bar’s window. “I want you to take away that statue or clothe it properly at once,” she commands bartender William Luther.  “Dress it as you would wish to see your mother and sister dressed.  Now, I mean what I say, and if you don’t obey by night I’ll make souvenirs of that statue.”  The offending statue is quickly covered with a red calico wrapper and sunbonnet.   From the bar she hotfoots it over to Willard Hall, located in the Woman’s Temple building on the southwest corner of Monroe and LaSalle Streets.  Six hundred people jam the auditorium so densely that women are fainting and “a crunching sound … warned the crowd that the seats were giving way.”  The crowd is sent from the building, and Nation moves on to City Hall where City Clerk Loeffler tells her that Mayor Carter Harrison is “not in … [as he] leaned on the railing and blew smoke rings in the air.”  The reformer “aired her views of a city government which countenances the liquor traffic, and incidentally reproved the City Clerk for smoking.”  Then it is on to police headquarters where she learns that the Chief of Police is also out.  Twenty minutes later she is at the Cook County Jail where she is turned away.  At 2:30 p.m. she enters a Turkish bath and addresses “attendants coming, going, and during operations.”  What steam can do to one’s hair!  At 4:25 p.m. she enters a salon on State Street and has her hair “arranged.”  After dinner Nation visits Dreifus’ Saloon at 56 State Street, the engine house of Fire Patrol No. 1, and delivers a short speech at Willard Hall in front of 200 people.  Shortly before 9:00 p.m. she makes her way to Riley and Edwards’ Saloon at 200 State Street, “expecting to meet a gathering of saloonmen to whom she had sent an invitation to hear her speak.”  Instead, she finds “a motley assemblage of men and women who formed a typical ‘levee’ crowd.”  Standing on top of a table she addresses the crowd as “The sounds from the piano blended with the laughter of the ribald crowd, which grew larger each moment and packed the room from the door opening on State Street to the alley in the rear.” As she speaks a voice from the crowd calls out, “There’s a beer waiting for you at the bar, grandma.”  Unperturbed, Nation talks from the top of the table. She “talked to the saloon men, she pleaded with the women to lead better lives, and begged everybody to help her in her determination to suppress the liquor business.”  She declares it “the best meeting I’ve ever attended” as she steps down from the table and heads for the railway station.  As she makes her way through the gate at the Polk Street station and her waiting train, she shouts, “Be good!  Be good!  Good-by, until I see you again.”

February 13, 1910 – The Chicago Daily Tribune reports that the Chicago Board of Education will be meeting in two days as a committee of the whole, ostensibly to discuss the leases the board holds on State Street property.  Speculation is that since even school board members who are out of town have been asked to attend, consideration will be given to the filing of charges against the school district’s architect, Dwight Heald Perkins.  School board president Alfred R. Urion says that he has obtained evidence that will be used against Perkins during inspections of a number of schools during the previous week.  Thus begins another less than stellar chapter in the city’s political history, one in which a talented architect (just venture out to Milwaukee and Addison and take a gander at Carl Schurz High School if you want proof), was railroaded out of his position by school board members who accused him of “incompetence, extravagance and insubordination.”  According to a great blog, “Chicago Historic Schools,” “These corrupt administrators were likely unhappy that Perkins had stopped the practice of giving inflated contracts to well-connected contractors and suppliers.”  It worked out – those school board hacks have long been forgotten, but the spaces that Perkins created, and the spaces with which he surrounded them, still endure.

February 13, 1926 -- Raymond Hood and John Mead Howells are awarded the gold medal for their design of the most beautiful building erected in the north central section of the country in 1925. Architect Elmer C. Jensen, a member of the jury charged with determining the recipient of the gold medal award, says of Hood and Howell's design for Tribune Tower, "The erection of this beautiful structure has been a decided aid to the cause of good architecture. Not only will it have a good effect on architecture in Chicago, but the cause throughout the whole nation gains appreciably. I wish again to emphasize the incalcuable gain which art has made through the Tribune Tower."

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

February 12, 1938 -- Lake Street to Become an Elevated Superhighway?

February 12, 1938 –Mayor Edward Kelly announces that he is considering a proposal to convert the Lake Street elevated line into a superhighway, using a $10,000,000 loan from the federal government. Kelly says, “Proponents point out that with a federal loan construction on this Lake street job might be started promptly … A toll of 10 cents per passenger car and perhaps 3 cents from each bus fare would probably be sufficient to make a federal loan self-liquidating.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, February 13, 1938]  In a November 22, 1937 report city engineers wrote that the Lake Street elevated structure could be converted into a four-lane elevated highway from the Chicago River to a point three-quarters of a mile from the western city limits for $6,750,000.  The price included entrance and exit ramps at the western end of the highway and a terminal at Wacker Drive and Washington Street.  Engineers also estimate that a six-lane elevated highway could be built on Randolph Street, connecting with Lake Street at Union Park just east of Ashland Avenue, for approximately $3,250,000.  A key feature of the plan is that, unlike the Congress Street highway plan, which requires an expenditure of over $17,000,000 for land and acquisition and the razing of buildings, a Lake Street toll road would require no additional land acquisition for its right of way.  It is probably a good thing this one didn't get done.

February 12, 1893 – The Chicago Daily Tribune runs a long feature article on sculptor Philip Martiny.  We don’t hear a whole lot about the guy today, but back in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s he was quite the stone chiseling fellah.  At the time of the Tribune article Martiny was finishing up work on most of the sculptural work for the Agriculture Building at the World’s Columbian Exposition.  The majority of the sculptures at the Palace of Arts, today’s Museum of Science and Industry, was the product of Martiny’s workshop as well.  The carved spandrels that sit atop the arches on the Michigan Avenue side of the Art Institute of Chicago are also from Martiny’s design.  Martiny was born in Strasbourg, a city that teetered back and forth between French and German rule over the centuries.  When it once again became part of Germany, the sculptor, who was at the time designing furniture, came to the United States at the age of 20 to avoid being conscripted into the military.  A stroke of good fortune led him to study with the great sculptor Augustus St. Gaudens for five years at which point he opened his own studio.  Martiny only spent a year or so in Chicago as he worked on his groupings for the Columbian Exposition; most of his work was done in New York where he kept his studio.  It was a momentous year, though, and although his name has slipped into obscurity, the fact that he was chosen to work on enhancing the palaces of the Great White City shows how much his work was valued at the time.

ebruary 12, 1955 – Authorities begin an investigation into the fire that kills 29 men and injures over a dozen more at the Barton Hotel.  It is estimated that 245 men are asleep in the hotel, located on four floors above the Standard Store Fixture Company at 644-48 West Madison Street.  Many of the victims are down-and-out men who are trapped in “cagelike rooms” that they have rented for 60 to 85 cents a night.  [Chicago Tribune, February 13, 1955] The Tribune describes the sleeping accommodations as “cubicles four feet wide, six feet long, and seven feet high.  The bunks were separated by corrugated iron sheets and each was covered at the top by meshed chicken wire.  An aisle ran between each two rows of cubicles.”  The fire starts just after midnight on the second floor, and flames quickly spread to the upper floors, engulfing the building as men, blinded and choked by thick smoke, run, screaming, toward exits.  Firemen are hampered by temperatures close to zero, and three of them are injured in the desperate attempt to rescue victims.  The hotel maintenance man, Tony Dykes, says, “About 2 a.m. I heard someone in the back of the hotel holler: ‘Fire!’ … I heard the alarm go off in the hotel and then the lights went out.  I went back toward room 137 to see what I could do, but the smoke was so thick I had to give up.”

February 12, 1949 -- A spokesman for the North Central association charges that construction of a huge water filtration plant on 55 acres north of Navy Pier would cause property values on the near north side to plummet. Frederick M. Bowes, vice president of the association, says that if the city attempts to build the plant it would be in violation of a contract signed by the former Lincoln Park board when riparian rights were obtained for the construction of what is now the inner drive, and he promises that the association will fight in the courts to have the project stopped. Harry L. Wells, the business manager for Northwestern University, which controls a significant chunk of land in the area (and still does), says, "We'd like to see a fine territory developed around the university. When you start putting a filtration plant there it isn't going go be that kind of territory." The purification plant was, tied up in court for years, but it finally opened in 1968 as the James W. Jardine Water Purification Plant in the exact spot on which it was originally proposed.

Monday, February 11, 2019

February 11, 1962 -- Lincoln's Last Legal Case Discovered
February 11, 1962 – The Chicago Daily Tribune reports on a discovery by researchers for the Chicago Title and Trust Company – details of the last law case that Abraham Lincoln tried in the city, a case heard in March, 1860.  Lincoln, at the time a leading candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, came to the city on March 22, 1860 in order to try a case involving about five acres of land on the lake that was created after the U. S. government built a pier north of the river’s mouth.  The dispute was between William S. Johnston and two men who claimed prior rights to the property, William Jones and Sylvester March.  Lincoln represented Jones, who was one of the city’s first real estate investors and also served as the superintendent of schools, and Marsh, a meat packer.  The case was tried before Judge Thomas Drummond in a building that stood at the northeast corner of Clark and Washington Streets.  It lasted for 11 days before a jury found in favor of Lincoln’s clients after a five-hour deliberation.  The case was another in a series of cases that would continue for decades as the courts grappled with the question of the ownership of submerged lands.  The lawyer who went on to become the President of the United States is shown above as he would have appeared in 1860.

February 11, 1963 – The first car to enter the garage at Marina City follows the serpentine pathway to a space on the nineteenth floor of the east tower.  Only black steel poles, about two feet high, spaced at six-foot intervals, separate the car from doom.  The garage will officially open in mid-March and will be operated by Marina City Garage and Parking Corporation.  It will accommodate 900 cars.  The rate for monthly parking is expected to be about $30,00.  Attendants will be able to access cars by way of a special elevator installed next to the core of the tower.

February 11, 1889 – Apparently, the good citizens of Joliet are angry and determined not to take any more abuse from Chicago.  At a meeting of a joint committee composed of members of the Joliet City Council and members of a city businessmen’s association, a resolution is adopted that reads, “Resolved, That the City Council be requested to use all honorable means to prevent Chicago from sending its sewage down the Desplaines Valley.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, February 12, 1889] Joliet Mayor J. D. Paige says, “When the works [the Chicago Water-Works] were built Chicago was to send down more water.  Instead it has given more sewage.  If we allow them to build a bigger ditch we will get more sewage.  Chicago has not complied with anything it has agreed to do.  The question is:  Is this sewage and do we want it here … The water is nastier here than it is in Chicago.  They have as much sewage there, but the putrefaction is well under way when it gets down here.  Down on Lake Joliet it is thick; you can’t force a boat through it.”  The conjecture is that the first practical step in pressing Joliet’s case will be supporting a $50,000 suit of Joliet resident Robert Mann Woods against the city of Chicago for damage to one of his buildings from the sewage in the canal.  Businesses and homes such as the one above in Lockport sat right next to the canal and were beneficiaries of whatever Chicago decided to send their way.

February 11, 2010 -- A 3.8-magnitude earthquake centered in a farm field near Hampshire shakes a wide area from Wisconsin to Tennessee. At first reported to be a 4.3-magnitude quake, the estimate is revised downward after data is more closely analyzed. Whatever it was, it shakes a lot of people in the area awake when it occurs at 3:59 in the morning.