Tuesday, June 18, 2019

June 18, 1895 -- Shufeldt Distillery Fends Off Night Assault

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June 18, 1895 --  A daring raid is made at 1:00 a.m. on deputies guarding the Shufeldt distillery at Chicago Avenue and the North Branch of the river.  With the distillery in receivership, 25 deputies have been guarding the grounds since June 15, split into two crews, a group of 16 guarding the plant during the daylight hours, and nine taking the night shift.  On this night a boat approaches the distillery in which a “tall man, plainly distinguishable by his white straw hat”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, June 17, 1895] orders the rest of the men in the boat to fire on the distillery.  The deputies standing watch return the fire as the boat heads for the west bank and its crew “beat a hasty retreat.”  The bridge tender at the Halsted bridge, Joseph Piskowski, states that he saw “a large scow” rowing toward the distillery at 12:52 a.m. and also observed shots being fired from the men in the boat.  A deckhand on the steamer Clyde, docked opposite the distillery is more specific.  He states six men in the boat fired a total of ten shots before running away across Halsted Street.  The Shufeldt distillery was a Chicago whiskey producer that was involved for over a decade in a battle with the Distillers and Cattle Feeders’ Trust, a combine of 64 distilleries led by the Great Western Distillery of Peoria.  The idea of the trust was a midwestern O.P.E.C. – to limit production in the industry in order to reduce competition and protect profits.  Shufeldt’s plant was partially destroyed by dynamite on December 10, 1888, and another attempt to blow up the plant was made in February, 1891.  Several attempts were also made to burn the place down. Shufeldt finally caved in and sold its operation to the whiskey trust in 1901.  Predictably, that was the end of the company.  Catalog merchant Montgomery Ward bought the property, and constructed his immense warehouse there in 1908. 


June 18, 1949 – Chicagoans get an eye-full and an ear-full as 40 Air Force planes buzz the city for 30 minutes at noon to open a public information campaign aimed at an estimated 76,000 people with syphilis in the city.  There are fireworks over Grant Park and skywriters spelling out “K.O.V.D.” over the Loop.  The Junior Association of Commerce in association with the Chicago Health Department and the Federal Public Health Service sponsors this kick-off of a 45-day campaign to “K.O.V.D.” – “Knock Out Venereal Disease.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, June 19, 1949] This is the local contribution to a national effort that will begin on June 30 and will include “billboards, signs, posters, and car cards” to “urge everyone to find out about syphilis and to obtain treatment, if necessary.”  Dr. Herman N. Bundesen, the President of the Board of Health, says, “We want every person in Chicago to know that untreated syphilis is dangerous … With an estimated 75,000 infected persons in the city, no one should take a chance.  Treatment has been reduced from 18 months to 8 days during the last six years, and a one day treatment looks promising. Untreated, the disease may lead to blindness, insanity, and death.”


June 18, 1968 – Executives from the International Business Machines Corporation announce plans to build the city’s third highest office building, rising 52 stories on the north side of the Chicago River between State Street and Wabash Avenue.  Architects involved in the project will include the offices of Mies van der Rohe and C. F. Murphy Associates.   I.B.M. vice-president H. W. Miller, Jr. says that the structure will be the largest office building that the company has ever constructed, and that the firm will occupy half of the building with an estimated 8,000 people working there when it is completed.  The company opened its first office in the city in 1916 with a dozen employees.  The new mid-century modern structure will bring some 4,500 I.B.M. employees scattered around the city in over a dozen locations into one location on the north side of the Chicago River.


June 18, 1931 – Here is a parade I would like to have seen . . . stretching down Michigan Avenue and State Street for more than two miles, with Illinois Governor Frank O. Lowden and the United States Assistant Secretary of Agriculture R. W. Dunlap on the reviewing stand, the parade seeks “to convince the public that meat prices are the lowest in years.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, June 19, 1931]  That’s right . . . It’s a Meat Parade!  There are “100 cowboys, 14 bands, several hundred farm boys and girls of Four-H clubs, 500 butchers with cleavers from the stockyards, floats designating various carcasses and cuts of dressed meat and comparative prices with a year ago, trucks of hogs, sheep and beef on the hoof and at the rear a drove of sheep ambling along the boulevard and into the loop”.  One of the truckloads of steers carries a banner proclaiming “Chicago buys more than $500,000,000 worth of live stock annually.”  A placard accompanying a float composed of a giant hot dog informs spectators that 5,000,000,000 hot dogs were consumed during 1930.  The Tribune photo above shows the drove of sheep being herded past the Michigan Avenue entrance to the Art Institute.

Monday, June 17, 2019

June 17, 1895 -- American Institute of Architects, Illinois Chapter Acts on Lake-Front Park

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June 17, 1895 – The Illinois Chapter of the American Institute of Architects passes the following resolution:

  Resolved, That the Illinois Chapter of the American Institute of Architects is in favor of the extension and improvement of our Lake-Front as a public park.
  Second—That there are various buildings dedicated to the instruction and amusement of the public that can best serve their purpose if located in a central position such as this park will afford.
  Third—We believe buildings can be arranged on the Lake-Front in such a manner as to leave unencumbered all the park demanded by the public.
  Fourth—Nevertheless, we deem it unwise to discuss the question of buildings at the present time, because such discussion would retard the action necessary to secure the park.
  Fifth—Therefore we respectfully urge upon the Board of Aldermen of this city the passage of an ordinance for the building of a breakwater on the dock line established by the government and permitting the dumping behind this breakwater of suitable material under the direction of the Commissioner of Public Works; and we recommend the postponement of all questions of the control of the park when completed and of the buildings that may be erected thereon until the public shall have had due time to consider these subjects.
  Sixth—We respectfully request our Board of Aldermen that when the proper time shall arrive this chapter of the American Institute of Architects, representing the architects of this city, may have an opportunity of presenting for public consideration a plan or plans showing suitable arrangements of buildings.
  Seventh—This chapter commends the action of the Committee on Public Buildings and Ground in the formation of the Chicago Municipal Improvement League, and we pledge our cooperation with other societies of this league to secure the proper improvement of our Lake-Front.
  Eighth—We refer all questions pertaining to buildings on the Lake-Front to our Committee on Public Buildings and Grounds in cooperation with the Chicago Municipal Improvement League and we request the members of this chapter to refrain from making public any plans for the Lake-Front Park or buildings thereon until the whole subject has been more thoroughly discussed and the proper time arrives for deciding upon the details of the enterprise.

After years of quibbling about what the land along Lake Michigan adjacent to the center of the city might become (it came within a couple of weeks of being sold for $800,000 to the Illinois Central Railroad in the   late 1870’s) … here is a sensible plan.  The A.I.A. essentially saying ... let’s get the land filled in so that it LOOKS LIKE a park before we start quibbling about what the park will hold.  The above photo shows the park, looking north in the early 1890's.  Note the string of Illinois Central Railroad boxcars running along the edge of the lake.


June 17, 1978 – Work on the new $17.4 million State Street mall project begins.  The work kicks off with all traffic except for buses and emergency vehicles excluded from State Street. Already there is some griping about the plan.  One bus driver says, “You just can’t make time moving like a train.  Buses weren’t meant to move like that.  To make time you got to be able to move around, but now it’s strictly stick to your one lane.”  {Chicago Tribune, June 20, 1978] In the 17 years between the time that the mall was finished in 1979 and 1996 when traffic returned, most of the great department stores that lined State Street shut their doors.  Certainly, other factors were involved in the closing, but one can’t help but think of the prescient words of a street sweeper as he watched work on the mall begin, “I hate change.  It only makes things worse.  I’ve been to Rockford and I’ve seen the mall there where all the stores are vacant.  These malls have nothing to do with the people.  They’re the hallucinations of politicians.”


June 17, 1884 – The Chicago Daily Tribune takes on the river shipping interests as it laments the amount of smoke that is poured over the city by the 65 tugs that work the Chicago River from which “are daily emitted dense volumes of black, dirty smoke.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, July 17, 1884] Two years earlier the city council had passed an ordinance imposing stiff penalties for emitting excessive amounts of smoke within the city “but the tugs have kept on smoking and the buildings, with a few exceptions, have kept on smoking, and the farce of the Smoke Inspector has been continued.”  In the fall of 1883 the ordinance was tested in the courts with the Illinois Supreme Court upholding the city’s right to fine violators of the law.  Smoke Inspector Merkl says, “They [the tug-men] have been making threats against the Mayor and the City Council.  They claim the enforcement of the smoke ordinance is a drive against the soft-coal interests of Illinois.  This is nonsense.  It is a matter of fact that there is not a tugboat on the Chicago River that uses Illinois coal … Illinois coal is too dirty for even the tugs.”


June 17, 1932 – The Chicago Daily Tribune announces that the world’s tallest building will be constructed on Illinois Central Railroad air rights south of the Chicago River and 200 feet east of Michigan Avenue.  A 100-year lease is finalized and the architect, Walter W. Ahlschlager, has been chosen with a plan, already in place, for the great Art Deco tower of 75 stories.  The building is to have 1,000 hotel rooms, but its primary purpose will be to consolidate all phases of the apparel industries in one location.  Amenities will include parking on the lower levels for Pullman cars, a 1,200-car garage, two auditoriums and an open-air swimming pool on the roof.  Even at this early date at least four-dozen firms have committed to occupying space in the building that will cover two city blocks.  W. R. Dawes, the president of the Chicago Association of Commerce, in a letter to the president of the Apparel Manufacturers’ Mart Building Corporation, writes, “The Chicago Association of Commerce heartily endorses the project.  We feel that the centralization of the apparel industry in the city of Chicago, and the erection of the magnificent building which you propose to construct on the premises will be of benefit to the entire apparel industry and to the city of Chicago. The completion of this project will be an achievement worthy of one of the greatest industries and of one of the greatest cities in the country.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, June 17, 1932]  Ten months later the project dies mysteriously.  Four decades will pass before this space on Wacker Drive begins to transform itself from a railroad freight yard to a developed piece of real estate.  For more on the plan and another one that also failed to rise, head here.  The Hyatt Regency Chicago stands on the river in this location today.


Sunday, June 16, 2019

June 16, 1891 -- Canal Street Bridge Inspection

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June 16, 1891 – City and U. S. government officials take a ride on the Chicago River to inspect the shipping hazard posed by the Canal Street bridge.  At 2:15 p.m. the captain of the steamer Saranac guides the vessel away from the dock opposite La Salle Street, guided by the tugboats O. B. Green and T. T. Morford. There are a number of delays, “sometimes to avoid a collision, at other times to let a vessel pass through a bridge, and once or twice to have a boat at a dock moved away in order to let the Saranac proceed.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, June 17, 1891]  Finally, the ship reaches the bridge at Canal Street, a structure that has been widely condemned by vessel men as a dangerous hindrance to river traffic.  The Saranac proves the opinion as, in moving past the bridge, “her side scraped the bridge and her stern rubbed the lumber dock.”  The general opinion on the Saranac was that the bridge should be removed, one passenger stating, “There is no use for a bridge there at all.  The road from it eastward leads across an alley with railroad tracks covering it, and it ends in a sand bank.”  The bridge measured 223 feet, 6 inches from end to end and was put in service in 1883.  The bridge that replaced it, the only vertical lift bridge remaining in the city, was opened on July 19, 1914.  When the replacement bridge was completed, it had the heaviest lift span in the United States. Today, it serves a variety of trains including Metra, Amtrak, and Norfolk Southern and stands as a Chicago Landmark just off Ping Tom Park on the South Branch of the river.  The above photo shows the new bridge, under construction in the foreground with the dangerous swing bridge to the south.  Notice the curve in the river beyond the older bridge ... it took delicate hands in the wheelhouse to squeeze through the bridge and make the bend in the river just beyond.


June 16, 1936 – One of the two trunnions that will support the two north leaves of the Outer Drive bridge over the Chicago River is lowered into place.  Weighing 80 tons, the trunnion is set in place by two huge cranes.  Everything about the bridge is massive.  It will bridge 220 feet of open space across the river with two 40-foot wide roadways and 14-foot sidewalks on either side.  The sidewalks on the upper deck are gone today, but that does not diminish the monumental undertaking of completing the link bridge for which the city had been desperately hoping as traffic filled its downtown streets with little space to head north or south across the river.  When the bridge was finished in 1937, it was the longest and heaviest bascule bridge in the world.  The above photo shows the bridge as it progressed in the fall of 1936.


June 16, 1909 – Work on the People’s Gas Light and Coke building on the northwest corner of Michigan Avenue and Adams Street interrupts a trial in the adjoining Municipal court building just to the north.  The Chicago Daily Tribune reports, “An iron girder weighing more than a ton and which was being put in place on the new building of the Peoples Gas Light and Coke company … crashed against a window of Chief Justice Harry Olson’s court on the twelfth floor yesterday and interrupted a trial.  Jurors and attorneys rushed to the other side of the room where they remained alarmed until the cause of the accident was learned.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, June 17, 1909] One might conjecture, I suppose, that the courtroom bailiff was tempted to cry out, “Girder in the court!”  But probably not.  In the above photo he People's Gas Light and Coke building, designed by the office of Daniel Burnham, is shown as it is being constructed.


June 16, 1932 – George “Red” Barker is gunned down as he walks in front of 1502 North Crawford Avenue.  An abandoned machine gun and spent cartridges are found on the floor of a room at that address.  Indications are that there were shots fired from across the street as well.  Two men and a woman walking with Barker are unharmed. They drag Barker into a car and speed to the Keystone Hospital on North Kostner Avenue where they find the doors locked.  Kicking in the door, they command the night nurse, Miss Elizabeth Curran, to attend to their companion, but he has already died from his wounds.  Barker had a criminal record going back 16 years and had served time in the prison at Pontiac, Illinois.  There was little mystery behind the execution.  As the Chicago Daily Tribune observed, “Underground rumors for some months had indicated that Barker, with Jack (Three Fingers) White and Murray Humphreys, former Capone gangsters, had formed a triumvirate with the intention of taking over extensive liquor and gambling territories held by the Sicilian survivors of the Capone regime, who had control of practically the whole of the county.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, June 17, 1932]  The son of a policeman, Barker heads to his grave at Mt. Carmel Cemetery in style.  4,000 people observe his final ride as 18 carloads of flowers follow the hearse.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

June 15, 1930 -- Little Company of Mary Hospital Dedicated

www.lcmh.org
June 15, 1930 – Cardinal George William Mundelein officiates as 3,000 people stand in a downpour to observe the dedication of the first unit of the Little Company of Mary Hospital at Ninety-Fifth Street and California Avenue.  According to the Little Company of Mary Hospital website, three Sisters of the Little Company of Mary came to the United States in 1893 at the request of Thomas Mair, a Chicago civic leader whose wife had been cared for by the Sisters in Rome.  [www.lcmh.org]  Mair built a convent for the Sisters at 4130 South Indiana Avenue; today the convent is the Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church, and its original stained-glass windows are part of the Regional Cancer Center at the hospital.  Since opening in 1930 the hospital has seen the delivery of 200,000 babies.  In 1950 Drs. Richard Lawler, James West and Raymond Murphy performed the first human organ transplant in the world when they transplanted a kidney in a patient, prolonging a 44-year-old woman’s life by close to five years.  Today, in addition to the 298-bed hospital, Little Company of Mary operates a dozen other facilities, under the direction of a 601-person professional staff.  Altogether the hospital and related facilities employ over 2,000 people.


June 15, 1891 – The Kenwood Physical Observatory, “one of the best equipped astronomical stations in the country,” [Chicago Daily Tribune, June 16, 1891] is dedicated at 4545 Drexel Boulevard, near Grand Avenue (today’s Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive) and Forty-Sixth Street.  The observatory is the gift of W. E. Hale to his son, George, a recent graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  The two-story building costs $20,000 and has a 12-inch refracting telescope that is twenty-two and a-half feet long.  The rotating dome at the top of the building is twenty-six and one-half feet in diameter.  A number of short speeches are made during the ceremony, expressing a feeling that “Chicago was an intensely commercial city, yet the artistic and scientific spirt was fast becoming aroused, and that eventually the great metropolis would outstrip all its rivals in its art and science as it has done commercially.” When George Hale was hired as a professor of astronomy at the University of Chicago, advanced astronomy students used the observatory until the Yerkes observatory was established in Williams Bay, Wisconsin, an observatory that was founded in 1897 by Hale and financed by Charles Tyson Yerkes.


June 15, 1907 – William Le Baron Jenney dies at 7:00 a.m. in Los Angeles, California at the age of 74.  Although still a partner in the firm of Jenney, Mundie and Jensen, he has not been active in design work for two years.  Jenney was born in Fairhaven, Massachusetts in 1832 and at the age of 26 entered the Ecole des Arts et Manufactures in Paris after earning a degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  The Civil War called him back to the United States where after a time in the Union Army he was made the Chief Engineer of the Fifteenth Army Corp, supporting the rapid movements of General Sherman’s and, later, General Logan’s advance, a role that required the design of bridges built strongly and in a hurry.  Out of uniform, Jenney came to Chicago in May of 1868.  Fifteen years later Jenney made a name for himself that would last as long as a tall building moves from concept to construction when he designed the Home Insurance Building on the northeast corner of Adams and LaSalle Streets.  The Chicago Daily Tribune in his obituary states, “It was in 1883 that Mr. Jenney was appointed architect for the Home Insurance company of New York, with instructions to prepare designs for a tall-fireproof office building … The order further called for a maximum number of well lighted small offices above the second story which, as Mr. Jenney knew, would necessitate small piers – smaller probably than were admissible if of ordinary masonry construction … Architects had before been obliged to inclose an iron column within a masonry pier, and the greater use of this idea, together with another -- making each story a unit in itself – marked the solution of the problem. Thus the Home Insurance building, designed by Mr. Jenney, was not only the first of the steel construction buildings of the world but it opened the way for a long list of requirements in fine office buildings, such as wind bracing, thorough fire proofing, rapid safe elevators, light and well ventilated rooms, modern plumbing and tile vaults.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, June 16, 1907] The Home Insurance Building is shown in the above photograph.


June 15, 1931 – The American Institute of Steel Construction selects the new Wabash Avenue Bridge as the most beautiful span costing more than one million dollars constructed in the United States or Canada during 1930.  The jury observes that the bridge over the Chicago River was “a most pleasing solution of a most difficult bridge design problem.”  [Chicago Tribune, June 16, 1931]  City Bridge Engineer Thomas G. Pihfeldt drew the plans for the bridge, which was fabricated by the Ketler Elliott Company and cost $1,750,000 to build.  Because the bridge is adjacent to a bend in the river, the government refused to allow the pits for the counterweight and trunnion to intrude on the river beyond the dock lines.  As a result the bridge was placed diagonally to Wabash Avenue, complicating the planning for the structure.  This is the first bridge ever to be built at this location.  It helped to relieve the traffic burden placed on Michigan Avenue, connecting Wabash Avenue south of the river to Cass Street on the north side  Today Cass Street is called Wabash Avenue as well.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Jun 14, 1933 -- Michigan Avenue Bridge Ship Squeeze


June 14, 1933 – This must have been quite a sight … two ships – the Duluth and the Steel Motor – pass abreast, headed in opposite directions at the Michigan Avenue bridge as two lake steamers – the Theodore Roosevelt on the south side of the river and the Isle Royale on the north bank lie at their docks.  Onlookers estimate that there is less than six feet of clearance between the ships at the point where the Duluth and the Steel Motor pass.  The above Tribune photo, taken from Tribune Tower, looking south shows the two freighters passing in the middle of the river with the two passenger vessels parked at docks on the north and south.


June 14, 1927 – Headed to the Black Hills of South Dakota, the presidential train of Calvin Coolidge stops in East Chicago at 3:00 p.m. The presidential party is driven a dozen miles to Wicker Park in Hammond as state and city police officers, along with national guardsman “present an unbroken guard for the presidential party.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, June 14, 1927] The Calumet region is represented by 150,000 people as the president dedicates the park, “an oak covered plot of ground bordering the wooded banks of Hart creek, a picturesque natural forest of much nobility in aspect, though limited in area.”  It is a quick affair as the Coolidge’s party boards the west-bound train at 5:00 p.m. at the Hammond station.  The above photo shows the President standing for the Pledge of Allegiance at the Wicker Park ceremony.


June 14, 1992 – Despite Michael Jordan being held scoreless for the first 11 minutes of the game by a tenacious Portland Trailblazer defense, the Chicago Bulls win the game and earn their second NBA championship, defeating the Portland team in this sixth game of the playoff series, 97-94.  Unfortunately, the city’s euphoria over the win quickly turns ugly, and by the time the sun comes up the next day Police Superintendent Matt Rodriguez says that the number of those arrested could exceed 1,000.  Lawbreaking and violence are widespread, ranging from stores that are burned to the ground on the West Side to windows that are broken or shot out on North Michigan Avenue.  Mayor Richard Daley says, “When people have an excuse to loot, they loot.  When they have an excuse to shoot, they shoot.  People just wanted an excuse.” [Chicago Tribune, June 15, 1992] At least 95 police officers are injured, two of those by gunfire.  The Chicago Transit Authority reports damage to 52 buses and 68 elevated train cars, most of those marred with graffiti. 


June 14, 1969 – The Chicago Tribune gives a shout-out in an editorial “to the many open spaces which building owners and architects have provided to make downtown Chicago a more civilized place.” [Chicago Tribune, June 14, 1969]  Today this editorial reminds us of something that we take for granted, something that was a rarity as the 1960’s began – open space in the heart of a city in which every square foot of property is a valuable commodity.  It could have been a lot different.  Think of it – within the space of nine short years the city received four great plazas in conspicuous places:  the Civic Plaza in front of the 1965 Chicago Civic Center, now the Daley Center; the plaza, now filled with an Apple Store, in front of the 1965 Equitable building at 401 North Michigan Avenue; the First National Bank plaza with its Ferris Bueller fountain of 1969; and the great federal plaza north of the Kluczynski Federal building and its Alexander Calder stabile, "Flamingo," completed in 1974.  We are today the recipients of the foresight of those planners of the 1960’s.  The Tribune was right on the money when it stated, “We commend the building owners for sharing some of their expensive land with the public.”  The Exelon Plaza at Chase Bank, along with the Ferris Bueller fountain, is shown above. 


Thursday, June 13, 2019

June 13, 1903 -- McKinley Park Dedicated

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June 13, 1903 – McKinley Park is formally dedicated as 10,000 people gather at Thirty-seventh and Western Avenues to view the proceedings.  The 35-acre park hosts a baseball field, tennis courts and a 350-foot long swimming pool.  President Henry G. Foreman of the South Park Board makes the speech of dedication, talking more about the board’s plans for future city parks, specifically Grant Park, than about the park being dedicated. He says, “It is intended to make greater Grant park the finest city park in America, if not in the world.  In this park we shall have more than 202 acres, with the business district on the west and Lake Michigan on the east, and residence and business property to the north and south.  There is a lake shore frontage here of about one and a quarter miles. Just stop and consider such a place for a park in the heart of a big city!”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, June 14, 1903].  According to the Chicago Park District’s website, the South Park Commission elected to name a new park after William McKinley, the twenty-fifth president of the United States in October, 1901, one month after his assassination.  McKinley Park was the beginning of a noble experiment as J. Frank Foster, the South Park superintendent at the time “envisioned a new type of park that would provide social services as well as breathing spaces” [www.chicagoparkdistrict.com] in sections of the city that would allow access to residents living in overcrowded tenement areas.  To accomplish this, the district began acquiring land near the Union Stockyards, much of which had formerly been the Brighton Park Race Track.  McKinely Park would be the first of a whole system of neighborhood parks on the south side, the first ten of which were Sherman, Ogden, Palmer, Bessemer, and Hamilton Parks, and Mark White, Russell, Davis, Armour and Cornell Parks.  This system of neighborhood parks led the nation in introducing natural areas that would serve dense population centers.  McKinely Park proved so popular that the South Park Commission obtained more land, doubling its size to its present 71.75 acres.  McKinley Park can be seen lying a few blocks south of the river in the lower left corner of the above graphic.


June 13, 1879 – Pipeman Henry T. Coyle, working on a hose-truck belonging to Engine No. 11 of the Chicago Fire Department, drowns when the truck is driven into the river at full speed.  The night is dark, and the driver, next to whom Coyle is seated, cannot see whether the State Street bridge is in position for crossing.  Unfortunately, the rotating bridge is in the open position, and the truck’s driver “dashed on through the darkness to the terrible catastrophe which followed.” [Chicago Tribune, June 15, 1879]  The driver and another truckman leap from the truck, but Coyle drowns.  It takes the better part of a day to find the body of the missing firefighter.  The whole affair prompts the Chicago Daily Tribune to react strongly to the danger that the rotating bridges pose in this way, “The bridges of Chicago have been a continual source of danger and annoyance to the impetuous people of Chicago … Scarcely a week passes by that some accident does not occur at some of them, mostly on account of the impatience of pedestrians … Why people, great and small, will persist in swarming upon and over the bridges of our main thoroughfares while they are swinging, at the risk of life and limb, it would be hard to tell.  The wonder is that more fatal accidents do not occur.”


June 13, 1922 – Representing the Illinois Athletic Club, John Weismuller smashes four world’s swimming records at Kahului on the island of Maui.  Weismuller takes 14 seconds off the previous record in the 400-yard freestyle, finishing in 4:40.4.  In the 400-meter freestyle he breaks the old world’s record by six seconds.  He also sets a new record in the 500-yard freestyle and the 500-meter freestyle events.  In addition to the records Weismuller also takes gold in the 100- and 50-yard freestyle races. The champion’s family came to the United States from Germany when he was just seven-months-old, eventually settling in Chicago where his father, Peter, worked as a brewer.  When the young man contracted polio as a teenager, a doctor suggested he take up swimming to combat the ravages of the disease.  He dropped out of Lane Technical High School, working as a lifeguard on Chicago beaches, eventually ending up as an elevator operator at the Illinois Athletic Club.  It was there that he was given a chance to show his skill.  A little over two years after his success in the Hawaiian Islands, Weismuller will compete in the 1924 Olympic games in Paris, taking four gold medals.  Four years later in the Amsterdam Olympic games he will win another two gold medals.  In the early 1930’s he will ink a seven-year contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, beginning a career that is notable for the six Tarzan movies in which he starred.


June 13, 1967 – Efforts to correct the sinking north wall of the Monadnock building are finished.  After a real estate investment group headed by Carroll H. Sudler, purchased the building for more than two million dollars, it was discovered that the 1891 structure is sinking.  For the preceding two months, according to the Chicago Tribune, 31 pipes, each of them 14 inches in diameter, have been sunk under four supporting piers of the north wall and then filled with concrete.  On this date the work is completed.  The Monadnock is safe, but Jackson Boulevard on which the narrow north face of the Monadnock sits, is a mess, “slumping badly in sections,” according to the Tribune as a result of excavation work for the new Federal building that is being constructed directly across the street from the Monadnock.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

June 12, 1961 -- Chicago Tribune Lays Cornerstone for New Building

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June 12, 1947 – The cornerstone of the Chicago Tribune’s new building, to the north and east of the famous tower, is dedicated as Colonel Robert R. McCormick, editor and publisher of the paper, heads up the ceremony.  A steel box is placed in the cornerstone with 60 items, including an 1847 penny donated by Mrs. Odie Johnson of 4718 Michigan Avenue.  The new building is located on the southwest corner of St. Clair and Illinois Streets and has connections to Tribune Tower as well as the W.G.N. studio on Michigan Avenue.  It will provide a dozen new studios and office space for W.G.N. and for the expansion of Tribune news and business offices.  The basement and first floor will provide 39 new press units, making the Tribune’s pressroom the largest in the world with 140 presses and 23 four-color presses.  New master control rooms and a television studio for W.G.N. television will also be included in the new building, which will increase space for the Tribune mailing room, circulation department, composing and stereotype departments, and photographic and engraving departments.  All floors will be at the same level as present Tribune buildings so that the new structure will be a part of a comprehensive block of buildings, rather than a separate structure.  The structure shaded in red to the right of the tower with the Gothic top is the section of Tribune property that was begun on this day in 1947.


June 12, 1952 – The Chicago Daily Tribune reports that the Herlihy Mid-Continent Company is the low bidder for the construction of an extension of the Ida B. Wells public housing project at Thirty-Seventh Street and Vincennes Avenue.  The contractor submits a bid of $4,482,000, and Chicago Housing Authority officials say the contract will be awarded after all the bids are studied and approved by the public housing administration of the federal government.  The project will consist of 455 apartments in seven structures of seven stories.  This will be the fifth of twelve new public housing projects to reach the construction stage.  The project, named for African-American journalist and newspaper editor Ida B. Wells, was begun in 1939 and at its completion had 1,662 apartments. Demolition of the high-rise buildings of the community began in late 2002.  In 2003 construction began on the mixed-income community of Oakwood Shores, and the last two residential buildings of the former development at 3718 South Vincennes Avenue were levelled in 2011. The area outlined in red in the above photo shows the Oakwood Shores community as it exists today.


June 12, 1929 – The Palmolive Building opens its doors for inspection as 60 tenants of the brand-new office building greet the respondents of over 17,000 invitations sent out before the occasion.  “The building marks a milestone in the city’s commercial development,” the Chicago Daily Tribune reports, “Located a mile north of the smoke and noise of the congested Loop and standing on one of the most important corners of Chicago’s most resplendent avenue – North Michigan at Walton Place – the towering mass of the Palmolive Building marks what will probably be for many years to come the dividing line between purely residential and commercial Chicago.”  Today, of course, we call this building’s style Art Deco, but the look was still new in Chicago and, in fact, this office tower is quite different from its stylistic family members in the Loop, much more a “New York” style of Art Deco than the tower-and-flanking wings style that Chicago designers embraced.  The Palmolive Building sets back in six different places so that floor areas grow increasing smaller, moving from 16,000 feet to 3,000 feet.  Holabird and Root are the architects of the new building with Lundoff-Bicknell acting as general contractors.


June 12, 1970 – One might peg this date as the day that Chicago finally began to get serious about cleaning up the Chicago River as Mayor Richard J. Daley announces plans to beautify the banks of the river along 38 miles, extending from the city to the Calumet River.  Wait for it . . . “I hope we will live to see the day there will be fishing in the river,” said the mayor.  “Maybe even a bicycle path along the bank.  Perhaps swimming.” [Chicago Tribune, June 13, 1970]  John Egan, president of the Chicago Sanitary District, says that the district is the owner of extensive areas of property along the river, much of it leased and that a lessee’s failure to improve that property could result in hearings and forfeiture.  The city’s corporation counsel, Richard L. Curry, says that Chicago can fine river front polluters up to $500 a day.  “We can get injunctions to force them to abate conditions, or the city can move in and do the work and file liens,” Curry says.  Forty-six years later the city is still working on it, but the new River Walk on the main stem of the river shows clearly how far Chicago has come.