Saturday, April 20, 2019

April 20, 1972 -- Rookery Building Gets Landmark Hearing

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April 20, 1972 – At a hearing before the Chicago Landmarks Commission the executive director of the American Institute of Architects, W. R. Hasbrouck, lashes out at building owners who resist having their properties designated landmarks because of a fear that such a designation will impact the marketability of their property.  Hasbrouck says, “We have an irresistible urge to destroy our landmarks.”  [Chicago Tribune, April 21, 1972]  The hearing at which Hasbrouck appears is convened to consider city landmark status for The Rookery building at 209 South La Salle Street. Attorney Oscar D’Angelo who led a group in a failed effort to save the old Chicago Stock Exchange at 30 North La Salle Street, a building designed by Louis Sullivan, tells the hearing that the city needs “to put its own house in order,” noting that the land under the Rookery is owned by the city and leased to the University of Chicago.  At the expiration of the lease in 1985 the city will own both the land and the building.  The Rookery did receive landmark status in 1972, and the city came to own it, just as predicted, in 1982.  In 1988 L. T. Baldwin, III purchased the building and began returning it to its former glory.  The renovation was completed in 1992 with a twelfth story added.  In 2008 the building came under new ownership, and in 2014 it became the oldest high-rise building in the world to achieve LEED Gold Certification.  Most experts agree that it is the oldest certified high-rise building in the world.  It is a significant jewel in the crown of a city abounding in architectural gems.


April 20, 1916 – The Chicago Cubs defeat the Cincinnati Reds, 7-6, in eleven innings.  The Cubs are down three runs going into the bottom of the eighth inning, but the team comes back to tie the game in the ninth.  The Reds aren’t done, though, and it takes three more runs in the bottom of the eleventh inning to win the game with first baseman Vic Saier driving in the walk-off run.  That is not the biggest story of the day, though, for this is the first game that the Cubs play in their new Northside stadium at Wieghman Field.  A caravan of cars nearly a mile long winds its way to the field before game time, and a half-dozen bands participate in the opening festivities.  Fireworks explode in center field while the American flag is raised.  There is even a live donkey on hand, hosted by the Twenty-Fifth Ward Democrats.  A “live and active” black Cub bear is brought to home plate “to do tricks in front of the move camera.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, April 20, 1916] New seats for the occasion have been built beyond the outfield and 30 minutes before the 3:00 p.m. start, part of the crowd in the right field seats climbs down and stands on the field.  It is declared that a hit into this crowd will be worth two bases, and “The players took great delight in driving the ball into that circle of fans,” accounting for nine ground-rule doubles before the game is completed.  All in all, 20,000 fans stay to see the exciting conclusion to “the biggest and noisiest opening day in Cub history.”  Playing in the new ball park Joe Tinker’s Cubs go on to finish fifth in the National League, 26 games behind the Brooklyn Dodgers, drawing 453,685 fans to Addison and Clark Streets. In the first game in the new ball park the Chicago Cub is safe at third in the above photo.


April 20, 1883 – The Chicago Daily Tribune reports that the dam that separates the Des Plaines River from the Ogden ditch has broken and that “The pumps on the South Branch of the river at Bridgeport, erected at a heavy cost by the city in order to transfer the foul water of the river to the canal, will, it is feared, have their usefulness considerably impaired by a condition of affairs which is daily growing more serious.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, April 20, 1883]  This is bad news for Chicago, which has kept the river flowing, to a greater or lesser degree, into the Illinois and Michigan Canal for close to 20 years, thus sending the city’s sewage westward and away from the lake.  If the Des Plaines is allowed to flow at peak times into the Ogden ditch, engineered by William Butler Ogden and John Wentworth and a dozen other landowners in order to drain their property near Mud Lake, then the direction of the Chicago River will be compromised and potential disaster will lurk.  At the time of the paper’s report “the water [of the Des Plaines] now sweeps freely into the ditch through an aperture twenty or thirty feet wide.” 


April 20, 1900 -- Just three months after the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal opened, the project that was to end all of Chicago's river troubles . . . BAD NEWS. Marine interests pressure the Chicago Sanitary District to order the controlling works in Lockport to be shut down on this date. The depth of the river has dropped so low that at least 20 big ships are unable to make it over the roof of the Washington Boulevard tunnel, and grain shippers are impatient at the delay in getting cargo in and out of the city. In a neat job of parrying criticism, the head of the drainage board says, "The problem with the lake Captains is that they load their vessels too heavily. They often load down to seventeen and eighteen feet draft when they know there is only seventeen feet of water in the river." On top of everything else the tow line between a tug and the steamer Panther snaps, and the ship slams into the steamer Parnell at the Wells Street dock. The photo above shows the controlling works in Lockport, a city that got its name because of the lock located there on the original 1848 Illinois and Michigan Canal.

Friday, April 19, 2019

April 19, 1949 -- Cubs Fall to Pittsburgh, 1-0, in Opener

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April 19, 1949 – Pittsburgh Pirate pitcher Rip Sewell continues his dominance over the Cubs as he shuts the home team out, 1-0, in the season opener at Wrigley Field.  In the 1943 home opener Sewell shut the Cubs down, 6-0, and in 1948 he pitched the Pirates team to victory, 4-2, adding a home run in the process.  The opening day win is the thirty-fourth time Sewell has beaten the Cubs; he ended up with seven wins against Chicago in 1948 alone. On a cold day at Wrigley Cubs pitcher Dutch Leonard holds the Pirates to just four singles and walks no one through eight innings.  Shortstop Roy Smalley’s error allows Pirate Dixie Walker to reach first base to start the ninth inning, however, and a single by Ralph Kiner, a sacrifice fly, and an intentional walk, the only walk Leonard gives up in the game, loads the bases. Pinch hitter Les Fleming hits into a force play, scoring the game’s only run, giving the Bucko’s the victory. The Cubs go on to lose 93 games, finishing in last place in the National League, 36 games behind the Brooklyn Dodgers.  


April 19, 1991 – One of the great treasures of Chicago is the Chicago Architecture Foundation, an organization of nearly 500 volunteers who lead close to 80 tours and who work diligently to hammer home the point that design really does matter in shaping the spaces in which we live.  It is interesting to look back 27 years ago to a Chicago Tribune article on the foundation written as it celebrated its first twenty-five years with March 9 of that year designated by Richard M. Daley as Chicago Architecture Foundation Day.  It was in 1967 that a group of architects, fearing that gentrification of the near south side would sweep away a particular treasure, the Glessner House, formed the Chicago School of Architecture Foundation with its offices in the Glessner House itself.  Ten years later the “School of” left the name and the focus of the foundation changed from preservation to education with an emphasis on showcasing the unique contributions that Chicago architecture has made to the city, the nation and the world. In the 1991 Tribune article the executive director of the organization, John Engman, says, “People around the world think of Chicago, unfortunately, for its gangsters and fortunately, for its architecture.  But Chicago architecture is what defines this city as a unique world city more so than anything else.  Architects throughout the world make pilgrimages to this town.”  [Chicago Tribune, April 19, 1991] At the time the organization consisted of about 300 docents who started walking tours from the Monadnock building.  Today there are nearly 200 more docents, and the foundation is settling in to new headquarters in the 111 East Wacker Drive building above the docks from which guests depart on the foundation’s signature Chicago Architecture Center River Cruise aboard Chicago’s First Lady Cruises. John Engman said 27 years ago, “The city is our museum,” and for the dedicated volunteers who stand on tour boats in rain or shine, who lead tours everywhere from Hyde Park to Fort Sheridan, and who spend hour upon hour preparing for their assignments, that is still true.


April 19, 1962 – Mayor Richard J. Daley presents a revised plan for the development of 60 acres of the area east of Michigan Avenue and north of Randolph Street, today’s Illinois Center.  The mayor says, “This proposal has been prepared to assure the orderly development of one of Chicago’s most valuable areas.  It is a vast undertaking that can provide more than 30,000 persons who could enjoy nearby employment, cultural, and recreational facilities.  This development will increase tax revenues and will be a great stimulus to the future growth of Chicago.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, April 20, 1962]  The city plan commissioner, Ira Bach, indicates that the development of the Illinois Central Railroad’s air rights in this area could provide 12 million dollars in real estate taxes each year.  The area about which the Mayor speaks is the area enclosed in the dotted lines.  Looking at this area as well as the area north of the river today is a visual lesson in the positive and negative aspects of urban planning.


April 19, 1925 --The Flying Finn, Paavo Nurmi, wins the 3,000 meter run at the first annual Loyola Relays at Grant Park stadium, today's Soldier Field. Rain in the morning leaves the track in poor condition, and the weather is cold and blustery. Still, 5,000 spectators watch as Nurmi covers the distance in 8:49.25, considerably off his world record of 8:32. The sensation from Finland is content to let fellow countryman Willie Ritola lead the pack through the stiff northerly winds until two laps remain. On the last curve he passes Ritola and goes on to win by 20 yards. Refusing to pose for pictures, he gathers up his gear and heads into the locker room as the crowd cheers. In difficult conditions he and Ritola are the only two runners to finish the race. The statue of Nurvi, pictured below, stands outside the Helsinki Olympic stadium.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

April 18, 1923 -- Fixed Bridges, an Editorial

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April 18, 1923 – Citing the words of the United States War Department’s district engineer, Major Rufus W. Putnam, the Chicago Daily Tribune editorializes in favor of moving from moveable bridges to fixed bridges on the Chicago River.  Putnam had previously reported that Chicago River and harbor traffic had decreased from 10,500,000 tons in 1889 to 1,500,000 tons in 1922 noting that the decrease occurred largely because of “the obstructive bridges.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, April 19, 1923] Although the Tribune expresses skepticism about that hypothesis, the editorial nevertheless agrees on the need for fixed bridges. “There is no question,” the editorial states, “that they would relieve land traffic of many irritating and costly delays.  Incidentally they could be an architectural beautification of the city, and would relieve us of an annual cost of some $1,000,000 now consumed by maintenance and operation.  The movement to fixed bridges should maintain a minimum of 16.5 feet of clearance, the Tribune notes, so that there will be no interference with the proposed lakes to gulf waterway.  Most of the bridges on the North Branch of the Chicago River today are fixed bridges. Moveable bridges still dominate the river on the main stem and South Branch, but they are raised on a strictly enforced schedule, principally lifting sequentially in the spring and the fall two days of the week to allow sailboat owners movement to and from the lake.  The above photo, taken in 1928, shows 333 North Michigan Avenue as it nears the end of construction and the bridge that carries Michigan Avenue over the river.


April 18, 1991 – United States Defense Secretary Dick Cheney is in town for a luncheon speech before the Mid-America Committee at the Chicago Hilton and Towers, and after the event he holds a news conference at which he says that his goal to develop a smaller but more effective military stands firm.  “I don’t foresee Ft. Sheridan would be kept open as a fort,” Cheney says.  “If we go into the period immediately ahead and we allow parochial interests to dictate the kinds of cuts made in the defense budget, we’re in big trouble … if we let those kinds of considerations drive our decisions on the size of the force, by 1995 we’ll have … a force that’s not ready to go to war.” [Chicago Tribune, April 19, 1991]  The decision to close the base on prime North Shore real estate is a controversial decision that will drag on for another half-dozen years until in 1997 Highland Park and Highwood agree to pay $5.75 million – or $41,000 an acre -- to the U. S. Army for 140 acres that make up the historic district and parade ground of the base.  The new Town of Ft. Sheridan is a must-see for anyone interested in history, architecture and nature.


April 18, 1962 – University of Illinois trustees approve the purchase of a “near west side slum clearance site” [Chicago Daily Tribune, April 19, 1962] for a new Chicago campus.  The approximate cost will be about $4,650,000 or $1.008 per square foot.  Although the new campus will ultimately cover 105.8 acres, the first land transfer will be made up of 50 to 60 cleared acres near Halsted and Harrison Streets along with a small tract in the middle of Blue Island Avenue, Morgan Street, and Roosevelt Road.  The first phase of construction is scheduled to start on June 30 with this initial $60 million section scheduled to open in 1964 with an enrollment of 9,000 students.  This section will include a 28-story administrative building, a large one-story lecture center, a four-story library, a four-story engineering science laboratory building, seven classroom buildings, and a student center, along with a heating and air conditioning facility.  The buildings involved in this first phase of construction are shown in the construction photo above.


April 18, 1867 -- Under "City Improvements" the Chicago Daily Tribune makes these observations . . .
"Why Madison Street from the lake to the river -- one of the great thoroughfares of travel -- should be permitted to remain in its present condition another year, cannot be explained by any rational process . . . As it is, the street is a nuisance, unsafe for travel, and offensive to the eye and nostrils of all who have to use it."
"The condition of [La Salle, Franklin, Monroe, Adams, Jackson, Harrison and Polk, from the lake to the river] is of that deplorable state which nothing short of their curbing, grading and paving can remedy. Public health, the general welfare and appearance of the city, as well as the public convenience, demand that these streets be permanently improved, and be no longer abandoned as mud holes and receptacles of filth of all kinds."

"These portions of Canal, Clinton, Jefferson, Union, Deplanes and South Halsted streets, lying between Lake and Madison streets, are almost impassable to vehicles, and are very little more convenient to pedestrians. The mud is so deep that no accident insurance company, managed with ordinary prudence, would take a risk from travellers on either of them. Drovers would attempt to swim their beeves, sheep and hogs across the river than attempt to pass over either of these streets from one of the three thoroughfares to the other with their stock."

"Halsted street, from Randolph to Madison, is a disgrace to the city. We think if the Board of Public Works would make the voyage of that street on horseback or in canoes, they would, while being fished out by the friendly neighbors living on the banks, appreciate the necessity for finishing the work only commenced by the paving of Lake, Randolph and Madison streets."

Somehow, a winter of potholes doesn't seem all that bad. The photo above shows State Street and the bridge across the river on November 2, 1867.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

April 17, 1972 -- O"Hare Mass Transit Study Announced

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April 17, 1972 – Illinois Governor Richard Ogilvie announces the creation of a task force to study the possibility of a mass transit link between the Chicago Loop and O’Hare International Airport.  William F. Cellini, the state’s Secretary of Transportation, will head the group with a mandate to report findings within 60 days. At a press conference at the State of Illinois building at 160 North La Salle Street, Ogilvie says, “The need for direct, fast and low cost mass transportation [between the Loop and the airport] is an urgent one.”  [Chicago Tribune, April 18, 1972]  The governor adds that serious consideration will be given to extending the present mass transit route along the Kennedy expressway to the airport, adding that he is sensitive to claims by the Chicago and North Western Railroad that such an extension will cripple the railroad financially.  A dozen years later, on September 3, 1984, the first passengers to ride the combination subway and surface train to O’Hare enter the airport.


April 17, 1937 – Work begins on a 6,000-foot runway to expand the city’s commercial airport – today’s Midway International Airport.  Three hundred workers under the auspices of the Works Progress Administration turn out to begin construction near Cicero Avenue and Fifty-Fifth Street, a project that will use $2,000,000 in federal funds.  Only half of the one-mile square area is usable at this point, but the Chicago and Western Indiana Railroad has agreed to reroute its tracks on the north half of the tract once the city supplies it with a new right of way.  Even as work begins, the city still holds out hope for a lakefront airport.  During a stopover in the city, Washington Senator J. Hamilton Lewis says that he has recently talked with President Franklin Roosevelt about the lakefront project after Chicago Mayor Edward J. Kelly had offered an explanation of it to the President.  Says Lewis, “The President feels that because of the growing importance of aviation, Chicago as a great traffic center should have aid in developing the facilities.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, April 17, 1937] The President will find disagreement from his Secretary of the Interior, Harold L. Ickes, who says that the price in material for such an undertaking is too great.  The photo above shows the old Municipal Airport’s runways to the left and the new field to the right with the Chicago and Western Indiana Railroad tracks bisecting the main diagonal runways before the tracks were rerouted.


April 17, 1950 – Speaking in the Crystal Room of the Blackstone Hotel, Walter Gropius, head of the Department of Architecture at Harvard University, speaks of a new era in which art and industry will work together.  The gathering is a celebration of the formal announcement of the addition of the Institute of Design as a degree-granting program at the Illinois Institute of Technology, a department at the school that grew out of the New Bauhaus that Gropius and László Maholy-Nagy established in the city in 1937.  Gropius says, “The artist is coming into the fold of the community.  From his ivory tower he will move closer to the test laboratory and to the factory; he will become a legitimate brother of the scientist, the engineer, and the business man.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, April 17, 1950]  The architect also praises the program at I.I.T. for its commitment to creating such collaboration.


April 17, 1893 -- The Chicago Daily Tribune provides a list of the world's congresses to be held in the brand new Art Institute building as part of the World's Columbian Exposition. According to the article, "The intention of these congresses is . . . to sum up the progress of the world in each department of the civilized life involved; to make a clear statement of the living questions of the day which still demand attention; and to receive from eminent representatives of all interests, classes, and peoples, suggestions of the practical means by which further progress may be made and the prosperity and peace of the world advanced."[Chicago Daily Tribune, April 17, 1893] The World's Fair Congress Auxiliary paid the Art Institute $200,000 for the use of 33 meeting halls and six committee-rooms in the building, plus two large rooms, each capable of seating 3,000 people. It is planned to hold up to 36 large meetings and 300 special meetings or conferences at the site during each week that the fair runs.  The following is a list of events for the fair's congresses:

May 15 -- Education.  Industry.  Literature and Art.  Moral and Social Reform, Philanthropy and Charity.  Civil Law and Government.  Religion.

May 22 -- Public Press.  Religious Press.  Trade Journals.

May 29 -- Homeopathic Medicine and Surgery.  Eclectic Medicine and Surgery.  Medico-Climatology.

June 5 -- Organizations represented by the National Temperance Society of America, Sons of Temperance, Catholic Temperance Societies, Women's Christian Temperance Union, Non-Partisan Women's Christian Temperance Union, Independent Order of Good Templars, American Medical Temperance Association. Vegetarian Societies.  Social Purity Organizations.

June 12 -- The International Conference and National Conferences of Charities, Correction and Philanthropy.  Instructors of the Feeble Minded.  Humane Societies.  The King's Daughters.  Society of St. Vincent de Paul and kindred organizations.  The Salvation Army.  A Conference on Charities, Correction, and Philanthropy will begin in one of the smaller halls of the Art Institute June 8.  This will be preliminary to the General Congress.

June 19 -- Bankers and Financiers.  Boards of Trade, Railway Commerce, Building Associations, Merchants, and Insurance Congresses, including:  Fire, Marine, Life and Accident, Mutual Benefit and Assessment, Fidelity and Casualty, Conference on Insurance Specialties.

July 3 -- Musical Art. Musical Education.

July 10 -- Authors.  Historians and Historical Students.  Librarians.  Philologists and Folk-Lore.

July 17 -- College and University Faculties, including University Extension, College and University Students, College Fraternities, Public School Authorities, Representative Youth of Public Schools, Kindergarten Education, Manual and Art Training, Physical Culture, Business and Commercial Colleges, Stenographers, Educators of the Deaf, Educators of the Blind, Chautauqua Educations, Social Settlements, and a General Educational Congress, in which all branches of education will be represented.

July 31 -- Civil Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Mining and Metallurgical Engineering, Engineering Education, Military Engineering.  Marine Engineering and Naval Architecture.  Aerial Navigation. 

July 31 -- Architecture.  Painting and Sculpture.  Decorative Art.  Photographic Art.  Conference on Art Museums and Schools.

August 7 -- Jurisprudence and Law Reform.  Civil Service Reform.  Suffrage, in Republic, Kingdom and Empire.  Government of Cities.  Patents and Trade Marks, social and Economic.  Science -- Weights, Measures, Coinage and Postage.  Arbitration and Peace.

August 14 -- Dental.  Pharmaceutical.  Medical Jurisprudence.  Horticulture.  Congress on Africa, the Continent, and the People.

August 21 -- Astronomy.  Anthropology.  Chemistry.  Electricity.  Geology.  Indian Ethnology. Meteorology.  Philosophy.  Psychical Research.  Zoology.

August 28 -- The Condition of Labor. Work and Wages of Women and Children.  Statistics of Labor.    Literature and Philosophy of the Labor Movement.  Labor Legislation.  Living Questions and Means of Progress. Arbitration and Other Remedies.

August 28 -- Economic Science.  Science of Statistics.  Taxation and Revenues.  Separate Conference on what is called "The Single Tax."  Profit-Sharing.  Weights, Measures, Coinage, Postage.

September 5 -- A series of union meetings in which representatives of various religious organizations will meet for the consideration of subjects of common interest and sympathy.  Denominational presentations to the religious world as represented in the parliament of religions of the faith and distinguishing characteristics of each denomination, and the special service it has rendered to mankind.  Informal conferences in which the leaders of a particular denomination will be present to answer inquiries for further information.  Denominational Congresses in which the work of the denominations will be more fully set forth and the proper business of the body be transacted.  The Art Building will be so occupied that these Denominational Congresses cannot be held in it.  They will for that reason be held in Chicago churches, which will be placed at the disposal of the denominations for that purpose.  Congresses of Missionary Societies.  Congresses of Religious Societies.

September 28 -- On Physiological Grounds.  On Economical Grounds.  On Governmental Grounds.  On Social and Moral Grounds.  On Religious Grounds.

October 13 -- Sanitary Legislation.  Jurisdiction and Work of Public Health Authorities.  Prevention, Control and Mitigation of Epidemics and Contagious Diseases.  Food Inspection and Other Food Problems.

October 16 -- General Farm Culture.  Animal Industry.  Fisheries.  Forestry.  Veterinary Surgery.  Good Roads.  Household Economics.  Agricultural Organizations and Legislation.  Agricultural Education and Experiment, including Agricultural Chemistry, Practical Geology, Economic Climatology, Economic Entomology and Practical Botany, and other scientific subjects.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

April 16, 1946 -- Ft. Sheridan Welcomes 176 American Prison Camp Escapees

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April 16, 1946 – Fort Sheridan welcomes 176 American soldiers who escaped from German prison camps in Poland and eastern Germany and found their way to Russian lines.  German prisoners-of-war serve the men a steak dinner.  Two dozen of the men grew up in the city or the surrounding area.  On the following day the men begin a 21-day leave to visit their homes before reporting to rest camps in Miami Beach, Florida or Atlantic City, New Jersey.  As world War II progressed, Fort Sheridan served as the central administrative headquarters for prisoner-of-war camps in Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin.  A total of 15,000 prisoners were placed under this administration, may of them held at the fort. 

April 16, 1903 – Violence flares all along the river as the marine firemen’s strike continues.  Gangs board ships leaving their docks in an attempt to halt the non-union firemen while other men man the bridges and hurl stones at boats as they pass to and from the lake.  One boat, the Seneca, inbound from Buffalo with non-union stokers manning the shovels, is boarded and a 65-year-old is left unconscious in the hold.  As night falls a crowd of fifty strikers attempting to board the steamer Clarion as she leaves for Buffalo are driven back by the police.  Retreating to a bridge, the mob showers the boat with rocks.  One deck hand is hit before he can find shelter from the onslaught.  In an attempt to end the strike, arbitration is proposed at a meeting that lasts into the next morning, but the Chicago local votes unanimously to continue its walk-out.  Even the University of Chicago is dragged into the fray as President William Rainey Harper is forced to issue a statement concerning students who took positions as strike-breakers on ships headed to Buffalo.  Harper asserts that if the students had consulted him or their deans “they would undoubtedly have been advised not to undertake such service.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, April 17, 1903] He adds, though, “That the university takes no side on any question, political or religious, or, indeed, of any kind, individuals of the university, professors, or students being left absolutely free to think and do as they see fit.”


April 16, 1903 – Twenty-five terrified passengers go for a wild ride when a trolley car of the Southport Avenue line crashes into the end of the partly open Wells Street bridge at 8:00 p.m. and barely avoids tumbling into the river.  The swing bridge at Wells Street had been rotated to permit a boat to travel through the draw when the trolley approaches rapidly as it heads north.  Passengers panic as the trolley appears certain to plunge into the river, but the bridge begins to rotate back into place just in time for the car to crash into its girders.  The car is thrown nearly perpendicular to the tracks, and the impact throws all of the passengers to the floor and against the end of the car.  Fortunately, no one is seriously injured.  A dozen or more elevated trains and thirty surface cars wait to cross the bridge as it takes a wrecking crew an hour to extricate the Southport trolley from the bridge.  The Wells Street Bridge and the girders that saved the trolley are pictured above.


April 16, 1925 -- E. J. Stevens awards the contract for the $30,000,000 Hotel Stevens, today's Chicago Hilton and Towers on Michigan Avenue, to the Fuller Construction Company. The hotel will be the largest hotel in the world, according to Stevens. When it opened in 1927, the Holabird and Roche designed hotel had 3,000 rooms and, among other things, could produce 120 gallons of ice cream every hour. The Fuller Construction Company is an interesting footnote. Between 1900 and 1914 the Chicago firm was responsible for the construction of over 600 buildings. Chicago's beloved Marquette, Rookery, and Monadnock buildings were all built by Fuller. So, too, was the Flatiron building off Madison Square Park in New York City. The company was dissolved in 1970, and its last building was most probably the 150 North Wacker Drive building just south of Lake Street in Chicago.



Monday, April 15, 2019

April 15, 1955 -- McDonald's Opens in Des Plaines

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April 15, 1955 – Ray Kroc, a former salesman for Prince Castle brand multimixer milkshake machines, opens his first McDonald’s restaurant at 400 North Lee Street in Des Plaines.  Kroc had arranged with Californians Richard and Maurice McDonald to set up franchises of their popular Downey, California burgers and fries restaurant on a national level.  The McDonald brothers were to receive one-half of one percent of gross sales. The restaurant sported the golden arches that became the heart of the company’s brand and on the huge sign outside the restaurant a huge caricature of Speedee, the early voice of the company, beckoned customers to drive on in.  Kroc died in 1984, and in that same year the Des Plaines restaurant was torn down. McDonald’s, realizing that the site had historic value in the franchise’s development, erected a replica of the drive-in on the site that functioned as a museum.   The site was plagued with flooding, and the museum was closed to visitors in 2008.  Last year, Speedee came down, and the building was demolished.


April 15, 1913 – The South Park Commission decides to initiate plans to improve the lake front from Grant Park to Jackson Park after the Illinois Supreme Court refuses to consider a case protesting a contract between the commission and the Illinois Central Railroad signed during the previous summer, an agreement giving the city riparian rights in exchange for larger terminal facilities for the railroad. The improvement program is an ambitious one, beginning with the demolition of the Illinois Central station at Park Row, approximately where Roosevelt Road runs today.  New boulevards are planned, along with additional bathing beaches, a lengthy lagoon, and the construction of the Field Museum.  Ground was broken for the museum on July 26, 1915.  The railroad terminal remained standing until it was razed in 1974.  Most importantly, another step was taken toward recognizing the significance of the city’s lakefront … and taking action to ensure its importance for the future.  The above photo shows the Field Museum a decade or so later with Soldier Field rising to the south as the land east of the Illinois Central Railroad tracks begins the transformation into public park land.


April 15, 1962 -- A tough day for fire fighters as three separate blazes put three firemen in the hospital.  The first blaze takes place at Grand Avenue and Tripp in a garage where Tastee Freez trucks are serviced and housed.  Twenty-six vehicles are destroyed, and more than 100 firemen are affected by fumes from the refrigerants in the burning ice cream trucks.  Damage to the trucks is estimated at $400,000 with damage to the building placed at about $50,000.  Meanwhile, a four-alarm fire at the Tivoli Hotel at 6318 Maryland Avenue injures six people while 20 more are carried down ladders to safety.  Fire Marshal Raymond J. Daley says that the fire apparently started in a fourth floor corridor and spread through the upper stories of the building.  Fire fighters also work four hours on a stubborn fire in an auto parts store and a bar at 4416 and 4418 Madison Street.


April 15, 1975 -- The White Sox lose to the Texas Rangers in the Chicago team's home opener, but it takes 13 innings for it to happen. At the end of the long game Sox manager Chuck Tanner is livid, aiming his anger at first base umpire Art Frantz, who gave the home run signal to Ranger hitter Tom Grieve in a play that Tanner felt clearly showed fan interference. He is backed up by Sox left fielder Buddy Bradford, who didn't help his case with Frantz much on the play by reaching down and picking up the ball instead of treating it as if the play were still alive. The two teams were locked in a 5 to 5 tie at the end of the ninth and battled into the top of the thirteenth when Dave Nelson singled for the Rangers. After Jim Sundberg struck out, Joe Levito drove in Nelson with a single for the go-ahead run. The Sox would finish the 1975 season second-to-last in the American League West with a record of 75 wins and 86 losses.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

April 14, 1973 -- Daley Says Loop Workers Will Fish for Salmon in a Year

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April 14, 1973 – A pumped-up Mayor Richard J. Daley testifies before a U. S. House of Representatives panel, testifying that “if enough clean water from Lake Michigan were diverted into the Chicago River, Loop workers ‘by next year would be catching salmon, trout and bass,’ and be able to barbecue them on the river banks.”  [Chicago Tribune, April 14, 1973]  Throwing a damper on the good times, Al Lopinot, the chief fishery biologist for the Illinois Department of Conservation, says, “Developing fishing in the Chicago River system is not impossible, but it is highly improbable. And it would very likely take a long, long time.”  Bill Harth, a fish conservation supervisor at the same department, agrees, saying, “We’d have to stop pollution entirely, and somehow clean sludge from the riverbed. It would take a lot more than mere flushing with Lake Michigan water … The Chicago River pollution problem is a tough one. We know it’s bad just by looking at it.”


April 14, 1960 – Mayor Richard J. Daley announces that the city will build a fixed bridge over the south branch of the Chicago River, rather than a lift bridge..  The decision comes after the federal bureau of public roads rules that federal highway funds cannot be used to pay the extra $8 million that a lift bridge would cost.  The new bridge, which today carries the Dan Ryan Expressway over the river, will instead cost about $2,600,000.  The bridge will allow a clearance of 60 feet for ships using the south branch, a height that will prevent some cargo ships from reaching docks south of the bridge, another blow to commerce on the river.  Thomas H. Coulter, executive officer of the Association of Commerce, says of the federal government’s decision, “This is another example of what happens to the best interests of local communities when the federal government embraces local responsibility.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, April 15, 1960] The bridge over the river is shown in the above photo.  Halsted Street is the road on the left side of the picture, running form top to bottom.


April 14, 1905 – The will of Benjamin Franklin Ferguson is filed in Probate Court, revealing that the lumber merchant has provided a trust fund to be managed by the trustees of the Art Institute in the amount of $1,000,000.  The fund will be known as the B. F. Ferguson Monument Fund and it is to be “entirely and exclusively under the direction of the board of trustees of the Art Institute of Chicago in the erection and maintenance of enduring statuary and monuments, of stone, granite, or bronze, in the parks, along the boulevards, and in other public places commemorating worthy men and women of America or important events of American history.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, April 15, 1905]  The director of the Art Institute, William M. R. French, says of the bequest, “Chicago already is fortunate in possession of a number of notable pieces of art, work of a character that is not surpassed in any city.  The city’s future in art is now assured, and it is great.  I do not remember of ever having heard of such a fund being established before.  It is a splendid thing.  It will give encouragement to our local sculptors, and not only will keep them here but will attract the best talent from elsewhere.  It is a long step toward making Chicago the ‘city beautiful.’”  Sculptor Lorado Taft says, “For eighteen years we have hoped that some incentive would be furnished for the establishment of a school of sculpture in Chicago, and now it seems too good to be true that the incentive has come.”  The photo above shows the Lorado Taft's "Fountain of the Great Lakes," the first sculpture to be commissioned by the Ferguson Fund.


April 14, 1925 -- Grover Cleveland Alexander leads the Cubs to an an 8 to 2 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates as 40,000 fans watch. Reporter Irving Vaughn shows sports reporting the way it used to be done . . . " [Grover Cleveland Alexander] swung that good right arm and that trusty bat and when the last ball had been lifted into space for the final putout a howling mob of enthusiasts poured out of the north side park to spread the news that Bill Killefer's Cubs had marked their opening battle of the National league's jubilee year with a clean, thrilling triumph over the best the Pittsburgh Pirates could offer."  [Chicago Daily Tribune, April 15, 1925] Alexander, a 14-year veteran, went the distance while going 3 for 3 at the plate, hitting a home run in the second, a double in the fourth, and a single in the seventh that drove in a run, the last hit described this way -- "[Alexander] came up again in the seventh. There were three Cubs on the corners and young Mr. Yde was tottering. Alex cracked him for a single that drove in one run and a few minutes later five more Bruins and planted their spikes on the counting station." The Cubs finished the season in the cellar. losing 86 games. The Pirates, vanquished so handily by Grover Cleveland Alexander in the season opener, won the championship with 95 victories.