Wednesday, June 28, 2017

June 28, 1951 -- Amalgamated Meat Cutters Open New Building



June 28, 1951 – Big day at Sheridan Road and Diversey Boulevard as the Amalgamated Meat Cutters and Butcher Workmen begin to move into new headquarters at 2800 Sheridan Road.  Patrick E. Gorman, the Secretary-Treasurer of the union, says, “Our union of 250,000 retail butchers, sheep shearers, packing-house workers, and dozens of other craft workers in the industry needed a place to call ‘home.’  We hunted around for a location, one that would lend dignity both to our union and to Chicago.  We finally hit on the idea that the place for us was at Diversey and Sheridan, where a ramshackle building needed tearing down.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, June 28, 1951]  The “ramshackle mansion” had a long history, originally constructed for Rudolph Schloesser, a banker, an associate of Potter Palmer, Marshall Field and George Pullman, who, after the Chicago fire of 1871 built one of the most impressive buildings in the city, the Schloesser block, that stood where Phillip Johnson’s and John Burgee’s 190 South LaSalle building stands today.  Later, Schloesser’s home gave way to other families, and then to a restaurant called the Maisonette Russe, ending its life as the campaign headquarters for Charles S. Dewey.  The new headquarters for the Amalgamated Meat Cutters will feature meeting rooms, a clubroom, a library, and executive offices.  Classical music will be piped through the rooms of the building at half-hour intervals and televisions will be located in the recreation and dining rooms.


June 28, 1864 – The members of the Chicago Packers’ Association agree on four resolutions at a meeting in the Tremont House.  They are as follows:

Resolved, That it is the sense of this association that the various stock yards of this city should be consolidated into one.

Resolved, That said yards should be conducted by a joint stock company, the stock of which should be accessible to all.

Resolved, That the said yards to meet the requirements of the different interests concerned ought to be located near the city limits of the South Division.

Resolved, That a committee of three be appointed to confer with the committee of the Common Council in relation to the sanitary condition of the Chicago river, and that such joint committee examine each and every slaughter, rendering and packing establishment and their relation to the condition of the river.


In this same year of 1864 the Union Stockyards opened on 320 acres of swampland just southwest of the city, land that was purchased for $100,000.  Within five years the area would be incorporated into the city.  On July 20, 1974 the enterprise closed, 110 years after the four resolutions were adopted in the Tremont House on the southeast corner of Lake and Dearborn.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

June 27, 1899 -- Diversey Parkway to Be Paved



June 27, 1899 – The Lincoln Park Commissioners sign an agreement with the N. P. Glann Construction Company to complete the paving of Diversey Boulevard form Clark Street to the North Branch of the Chicago River.  This will be the last link in the chain of boulevards that connect Lincoln Park with the West Side park system.  It has taken three years to get final approval for the project with the work twice being put out to bid with all of the bids subsequently rejected because, according to a park commissioner, “the lowest was too high.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, June 28, 1899] The board will follow the wishes of the property owners on Diversey in determining whether crushed cobblestone or crushed granite will be used as the roadbed.  The above photo shows the intersection of Diversey Parkway, Broadway and Clark Street just about this time.


June 27, 1965 – Ira Bach, the Chicago Plan Commissioner, predicts that the Chicago River in the downtown area will be transformed into “one of the world’s most beautiful waterways in the next 10 years.”  [Chicago Tribune, June 28, 1965]  He only missed the mark by forty years.  “The new Pioneer Court dedicated . . . by the Equitable Life Assurance Society of the United States and the Tribune company, is the latest exquisite example of how the river bank can be beautified by an unusual development,” Bach said.  “With other major riverbank construction programs on the planning boards, other plazas and landscaped open spaces can be expected to be created along the river in the next decade.”  This month Bach’s prediction proved, for the most part, to have come true as the 100 million dollar Riverwalk has opened the entire south side of the river from Lake Michigan to Lake Street.

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.