Thursday, September 20, 2018

September 20, 2004 -- Spertus Institutes's New Home Unveiled

innovation glass.com
September 20, 2004 –Chicago architects Ron Krueck and Mark Sexton and the Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies unveil a plan for the Institute’s new home on Michigan Avenue.  The plan will be the first test of whether a contemporary building will meet the design guidelines of the Michigan Avenue Historic District. Frist reactions are favorable. Jim Peters, the Director of Planning for the Landmarks Preservation Council of Illinois, says, “It adheres to many of the more key design guidelines for the district, including height, proportions and mild projections.” [Chicago Tribune, September 19, 2004]The proposed building, projected to cost $49 million, will contain a 400-seat lecture hall, a library, museum, and public facilities and will stand on what had previously been a vacant lot in the 600 block of South Michigan Avenue, just north of the Spertus Institute’s current home at 618 South Michigan Avenue.  Early in 2018 the Spertus Institute’s new building was named as one of Illinois’ 200 Great Places by the Illinois Council of the American Institute of Architects.  The structure’s window wall is built from 726 individual pieces of glass in 556 different shapes.  The multi-faceted planes of the window wall bring light into the building, an important factor on a couple of levels.  According to the Spertus website, “This emphasis on light echoes the Spertus logo, a flame accompanied by the biblical phrase “yehi” or, Hebrew for ‘let there be light,’ symbolizing both physical light and the light of learning.” [https://www.spertus.edu/610at10]


September 20, 1992 – Big commotion on Wacker Drive east of Michigan Avenue when the Michigan Avenue bridge turns into a slingshot, shooting a 70-foot crane into the gap between the span and Wacker Drive. The crane’s boom falls across Wacker Drive with the iron ball and hook at the top of the crane bouncing off Wacker Drive and through the rear window of Jesus Lopez’s Ford Escort.  Says Lopez, “I guess I was just lucky. I’m glad I wasn’t sitting in the back seat.” [Chicago Tribune, September 21, 1992] Jeff Boyle, the city’s Commissioner of Transportation, says, “The southeast leaf of the Michigan Avenue bridge was the last of four leafs under construction. The bridge, which is out of balance during construction, started to rise and went up into a straight vertical position.  What stopped the bridge from going any further or falling back down was the crane that got wedged in there.” Diana Morales, a police officer directing traffic at the time of the accident had just stopped a CTA bus in an effort to divert it to the Wabash Avenue bridge just to the west. “I was behind the bus directing traffic and trying to get the bus out of the way, but [the driver] said he couldn’t move so I told him to just stay there.  [The Northwest leaf] was coming down and the Southeast side started coming up really fast and I just ran the other way.”  Six passengers on the bus are injured as flying debris come through the open windows.  The accident closes down the bridge indefinitely and ultimately leads to an acknowledgement on the part of the city that none of its inspectors had the experience or training to determine the proper balancing of weight on a bridge that is under construction.


September 20, 1915 – Judge Kennesaw Mountain Landis orders the steamer Eastland sold with bids to be opened and the sale to take place on December 20, 1915 in the United States marshal’s office in the Federal Building.  The order is issued in order to cover the costs of the Great Lakes Towing Company, the firm that raised the hulk from the river bottom after the ship capsized on July 24 with a loss of life approaching one thousand souls.  According to Jay R. Bonansinga’s The Sinking of the Titanic:  America’s Forgotten Tragedy, “. . . only two bidders showed up at the macabre auction held on a cold December morning." One of them was an attorney from Boston, who represented an East Coast steamship company.  The other was Captain Edward A. Evers of the Illinois Naval Reserve.  Evers won the auction with a bid of 46,000 dollars, taking possession of the hulk on December 28.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

September 19, 2006 -- Wallenda Crosses River on Bicycle

AP / Charles Rex Arbogast
September 19, 2006 –Mario Wallenda, a 65-year-old paralyzed high wire artist, crosses the Chicago River 100 feet in the air near the Merchandise Mart.  “I’m doing this because I need the money, and I’m tired of sitting around the house. I tried lapidary, woodcarving, even needlepoint,” Wallenda says. [Chicago Tribune, September 20, 2006]The performer was paralyzed in 1962 when a seven-person high-wire pyramid collapsed, and two Wallenda family members were killed.  Wallenda is paid between $50,000 and $100,000 for the stunt, according to the event sponsor, WLUP-FM.  At 9:09 a.m. a crane drops Wallenda and his specially-designed electric bicycle above the river.  Two minutes later he is on the other side of the river.  He pauses for a few moments, and by 9:14 he re-crosses the river where the crane waits to lift him back to ground level.  “Things are tough,” Wallenda says. “I have enough money to live comfortably for the rest of my life, as long as I don’t live past next week.”



September 19, 1927:  Wreckers begin tearing down a four-story building at Randolph and LaSalle Streets as bands play and city chieftains make speeches, and the long-awaited widening of LaSalle Street from Washington Boulevard to Ohio Street begins.  The project, which has its beginnings in the Chicago Plan of 1909, is expected to cost $7,455,000, an expenditure that will provide another through street to the near north side and relieve congestion on Michigan Avenue. The president of the Board of Local Improvement, Michael J. Flaherty, wields a pickax and chips away briefly at an old building south of the river on LaSalle even as one tenant, the Hub Raincoat Company, refuses to vacate the structure, saying that the firm has a right to remain until September 23.  The $3,500,000 bridge across the river at LaSalle Street is projected to be completed sometime in late 1928.  The widening of LaSalle Street had the city acquiring 20 feet from each property facing the street, which resulted in the complete loss of many buildings and significant alterations to buildings such as the Reid-Murdoch building on the north side of the river, which lost one whole tier on its west side to make way for the expanded roadway.  A picture of the building before and after the truncation can be seen above.


September 19, 1911 – A wild night on the river as a newly-hired wheelman on the Manistee locks himself in the pilot house and “with whistles tooting and engine bell chiming . . . steamed his Dreadnought up and down the river, charging every craft in sight.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, September 20, 1911]  The seaman, Martin Daley, is hired that day and almost immediately “took on a cargo of rum.”  He locks himself in the pilot house, signals the engine room for “full speed ahead,” and gets someone to cast off from the wharf at Michigan Avenue.  He brings the Manistee so close to the Rush Street Bridge that “most of the fresh coat of paint on her side adhered to the bridge.”  Steaming back toward the lake, Daley then “directed his energies toward running down smaller craft – launches, ‘party boats,’ and dingies [sic]”  as members of the crew break the windows of the pilot house in order to stop the rampage.  Finally, a Chicago policeman manages to clamber aboard at the life saving station at the river’s mouth and arrests the drunken sailor.  Daley tells the officer that he is going back to the Atlantic Ocean “because they can’t take a joke on the lakes.”  The above photo, taken in 1905, looks east from the Rush Street Bridge to just about the location where the Manistee was berthed.  The Kirk Soap Works stands where 401 North Michigan and the new Apple Store, currently under construction, can be found today.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

September 18, 1934 -- Steinmetz High School Opens


September 18, 1934 –Mayor Edward Kelly is on hand to dedicate the $2,500,000 Steinmetz High School.  In his address he calls upon the state legislature to find a way to increase funding for the school system in the upcoming year.  “The need of more school revenue has been repeatedly demonstrated,” he says.  “At present real estate carries too much of the load, and it is impossible to suppose that additional burdens can be placed on such property. The schools need added revenues and the legislature should provide a plan to secure them.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, September 19, 1934]Thousands of parents watch 2,800 Steinmetz students pass a reviewing stand to enter the building as the school opens.  The new school is one of five new schools commissioned by the Board of Education that will open in 1934.  Lane Technical High School opens on this day as well.  An addition to Senn High School will open in the next week, and two other schools, Wells and Phillips will be completed by December 15. The school is named for German-American mathematician and electrical engineer Charles Proteus Steinmetz.

September 18, 1924 – The president of the Illinois Society of Architects, Charles E. Fox, proposes in the monthly bulletin of the society “a half-mile long, permanent stone bridge, 160 feet high, over the mouth of the Chicago river”.  [Chicago Daily Tribune, September 19, 1924] The massive bridge would take the place of a lift bridge or tunnel, plans that are under consideration as ways to connect Grant Park and the south side of the city with the north side of the river and Lake Shore Drive.  Says Fox, “It’s a reasonably safe bet that if the proposed tunnel is ever constructed, it’ll stand for a generation or two as a monument to bad judgment and then’ll be filled up … The war department already has shown its hand by refusing to have a lift bridge east of Michigan avenue … On the north a design of approach could be incorporated into the architectural treatment of the Municipal pier.  The bridge itself would be the monumental hub of the city.  A view from the crown of the arch would give to the passing stranger, as well as to the citizen of Chicago a magnificent birdseye view of Grant park and the lake shore both north and south.”  Imagine today what a difference it would make to have a massive stone bridge straight out of New York City plunked down at the entrance to the river … things would look a lot different. 


September 18, 1925 – Alonzo C. Mather pays $500,000 or $7,692 a square foot for 65 feet of frontage on Wacker Drive, adding this property, owned by the Chicago Title & Trust Company, to Michigan Avenue property he already owns east of the Wacker Drive lot.  Born in Fairfield, New York in 1848, Mather came to Chicago in 1875, where he started a wholesale business.  At some point he found a way to wealth – by developing a new kind of railroad stock car that reduced the loss of livestock while in transit through the provision of feed and water.  The Herbert Hugh Riddle design for Mather Tower at 75 East Wacker Drive provided the headquarters for the Mather Stock Car Company when it opened in 1929.  The existing piece of property that Mather owned on Michigan Avenue was meant for another similar tower that would be connected its partner on Wacker Drive by a ground floor arcade.  The economic catastrophe of the Great Depression ended the plan for the second tower.

Monday, September 17, 2018

September 17, 1922 -- Madison Street Bridge Lowered for First Time


September 17, 1922 –The new $1,600,000 Madison Street bridge is lowered into position for the first time at 2:00 p.m., leaving the Clark Street bridge as the only center-pier bridge left in the central area of the city.  It will be three weeks before pedestrians will be allowed across the new bridge, and it will be at least six weeks before traffic crosses the new span.  The bridge’s sidewalks will be 13.5 feet, eight feet wider than the sidewalks on the old center pier bridge that is being replaced.  Work on the new bridge began on December 1, 1919, but there is a long delay in the fabrication of the steel for the span.  It isn’t until late September of 1921 before work resumes.  In March of 1922 the bridge’s bond issue expires, and work was once again is ordered to a halt.  In June Chicago voters approve a new bond issues, and work resumes on August 1.  According to historicbridges.org“This bridge stands out among the bridges of Chicago as one of the most historically and technologically significant since it is the first example of a design that Chicago would use in construction on many bridges during a period of over 40 years.  It also retains ornate sidewalk railings that greatly contribute to the visual beauty of the bridge.” The above photo shows the bridge under construction in 1922.  In the right foreground is the swing bridge which it will replace.



September 17, 1954 – The first new office building to be constructed in the Loop since 1933, the ten-story Sinclair Oil Corporation’s office building on the northeast corner of Wacker Drive and Randolph Street, is officially opened as more than 200 business leaders and officials from the state and city attend the ceremonies.  The new building contains 225,000 square feet of office space and 14,000 square feet of basement parking space.  The structure will consolidate various divisions of the corporation that were previously scattered in four separate locations.  The building is gone today, replaced by the Goettsch Partners tower, finished in 2010, at 155 North Wacker Drive.  The Sinclair building is outlined in the older photograph.  The award-winning Goettsch replacement is shown to the left.


September 17, 1969 – The City Council, by a vote of 30 to 6, approves two ordinances that clear the way for the office and residential development that Chicago now calls Illinois Center.  One ordinance establishes guidelines for the development of the area, and the other codifies the relationship between the city, the owner of the property, Illinois Central Industries, and three developers.  The plan calls for buildings of up to 90 stories with 45,000 workers, 17,500 apartments with 35,000 residents.   In an editorial the Chicago Tribune writes glowingly about the project, asserting, “Chicagoans must feel some exhilaration to see, at long last, this strategic area built on in a manner suitable to its location in the center of the city.  And Chicagoans should take an eager, continuing, and responsible interest as Illinois Center plaza gradually develops . . . A brilliantly successful development here will be a civic asset the importance of which it would be almost impossible to exaggerate.” [Chicago Tribune, September 19, 1969]  The photo at the left shows the approximate area where the Hyatt Regency Hotel stands today.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

September 16, 1909 -- President Taft Attends Sox Game


September 16, 1909 –The World Series Champion Chicago Cubs fall to the New York Giants in the West Side Park, 2-1, but that is not the real story of the day.  The game takes place with a special visitor in the stands, the President of the United States, William Howard Taft.  The Chicago Daily Tribune attests to the level of interest with which the Chief Executive views the game, reporting, “A leading constituent might be confiding an important party secret to the presidential left ear while anothercitizen, whose name appears often in headlines, might be offering congratulations on the outcome of the battle for revision downward to the right auricle, but while both ears were absorbing messages from friends both presidential eyes were steadily watching Christy Mathewson and the Giants revise downward the standing of the Cubs.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, September 17, 1909] Fans begin lining up before noon for the late afternoon game, and when the President appears exactly on time, he is escorted to the field where he shakes the hand of each Cub’s player, moving on “to mingle with the rooters … while the Giants were completing their preliminary practice.” Cubs manager Frank Chance starts his “three-fingered ace,” Mordecai Brown against the Giants’ Christy Matthewson … two future Hall-of-Famers.  Before the Giants are retired in the first inning, the team has scored all the runs that it needs to take the contest. 


September 16, 1915 – A dozen years after the Iroquois Theatre fire that claimed 602 lives on Randolph Street, disaster is narrowly averted as 200 patrons at the Alcazar Theater on West Madison Street are watching the conclusion of The Red Virgin at 10:30 p.m.  A small explosion is heard in the projectionist’s booth, and quickly the theater fills with acrid smoke.  The night manager, “possessor of a stern voice,” [Chicago Daily Tribune, September 15, 1915] appears and shouts, “Don’t crowd! There are plenty of exits.  See the red lights in front of you.  There’s plenty of time.  Don’t hurry!  Don’t push!” Ushers keep the crowd moving toward the exits in an orderly fashion, and not a single member of the audience is injured. Miss Mattie Lamb plays the theater piano until the auditorium is empty despite being nearly overcome by smoke.  The only casualty is the projectionist who receives burns on one hand when the film he is showing explodes, beginning the procession toward the exits.


September 16, 1925 – The South Park Commission inks a contract to cover the construction of the $2,000,000 John G. Shedd Aquarium.  It will be built in Grant Park about one-tenth of a mile east of the Field Museum.  Shedd began his career as a stock clerk for Marshall Field and worked his way up the corporate ladder, taking over as president of the firm when Field died in 1906.  The aquarium was his gift to the city, one designed to complement the great museum to the west named after his former boss.  Shedd did not live long enough to see the completion of the aquarium in 1930; he died just over a year after the South Park commission made its 1925 announcement.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

September 15, 1976 -- Mondale Attacks Ford in Midway Speech

wsj.com
September 15, 1976 –Democratic Vice-Presidential candidate Walter Mondale, speaking to reporters at Midway Airport, says that President Gerald Ford’s record “belies and puts a falsehood to everything he says he’s now for.” [Chicago Tribune, September 16, 1976] Using notes that he had jotted down during his flight to Chicago, Mondale attacks Ford on four fronts.  In the area of health care, Mondale says that the President has made no proposal for a health-care program affordable for most Americans.  In education he asserts that the federal oversight of education under Ford “is the worst in 40 years.” Mondale finds that “The record is absolutely miserable,” showing that 2.5 million Americans have lost their jobs since Ford took office. He also finds that the Ford administration is responsible for high interest rates that make affordable housing so difficult to find.  “Their record couldn’t be worse on all of their objectives,” the Democratic candidate states.  “I think it’s clear that on the issues he has raised, he has a miserable performance record. And if trust must be earned, he doesn’t deserve the trust of the American people.” The election went down to the wire, but the Carter-Mondale ticket pulled out a narrow victory.  If 3,687 votes had been switched in Hawaii and 5,559 votes in Ohio had been switched from Carter to Ford, the incumbent would have been victorious.


September 15, 1966 – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. reveals a plan to target downtown stores in Chicago in an effort to create jobs for African Americans in the city.  Speaking to a rally of 500 in the Greater Mount Hope Baptist Church at 6034 Princeton Avenue, Dr. King says, “I’m going to march straight up Michigan avenue and straight up State street and organize every store in the city.”  [Chicago Tribune, September 16, 1966] The next day, he reveals, pickets will demonstrate in front of the Saks Fifth Avenue store on Michigan Avenue.  In his address Dr. King also criticizes Senator Everett Dirksen for his opposition to the civil rights bill.


September 15, 1961 – Three carpenters fall 43 stories to their deaths as a scaffold on which they are being lifted separates from the hoisting hook inside the core of the east tower of Marina City, under construction north of the river on State Street.  Mike Einsele, a worker inside the core, says, ‘We were raising forms inside the core and I was about five feet above them.  They were standing on the scaffolding, and I guess a cable slipped.  I heard a loud noise and I turned around to look.  The bodies bounced crazily, hitting one obstruction after another, until they hit the bottom.  I heard the thuds when they hit and I got sick.  I got out of there then.”  [Chicago Tribune, September 16, 1961]  Another worker, Will Bridges, who was working ten stories below the scaffold and who had just stepped out of the way to get a drink of water, says “Everyone inside the core heard them fall.”  Speculation about the cause suggests that the heavy forms on the scaffold that were being hoisted for the next phase of concrete work jammed against the wall of the core and twisted the hoisting hook enough so that the scaffold fell away.

Friday, September 14, 2018

September 14, 1908 -- Garland Court Okayed for Trolley Tracks


September 14, 1908 –Work begins on the laying of trolley track in Garland Court on the west side of the Chicago Public Library. Elaborate preparations have been made for the project, which will ultimately allow the removal of the tracks of the City Railway on Michigan Avenue and on Madison Street..  The City Railway has agreed to pay the expenses for changes in the public library building that are required because of the railway that will pass adjacent to it.  These alterations to the building will be completed according to plans prepared by Shepley, Rutan and Coolidge, the original architects of the structure. The above streetcar on Randolph is making the turn onto Garland Court on the west side of the Chicago Public Library, today's cultural center.


September 14, 1934 – United States marshals seize the excursion boat Florida at its dock east of Michigan Avenue, pending a court hearing and settlement of the claims of 21 crew members for $2,000 in back pay. The Florida has a fascinating history, as it turns out.  As far as I have been able to determine the boat is still taking up space at the bottom of the river just east of Goose Island, opposite the north end of 600 West Chicago, the old Montgomery Ward's warehouse building.  What eventually became the S. S. Florida was originally the City of Mackinac, built in 1882 as a side-wheeled cruise boat on Lake Michigan.  The latter part of its service was spent providing lakefront excursions to the 1933 Century of Progress.  In the mid-1930's it was sold to a scrapper at which time its upper decks were removed, its engines stripped, part of a conversion into a barge.  The Columbia Yacht Club bought the vessel in 1937 to serve as its club house.  On Friday, May 13, 1955 a galley fire caused the ship to sink at its dock.  Members raised the funds and raised the ship, which was used until 1982 when the club acquired the former Canadian ferry, the Abegweit, as its new base of operations.  A trucking magnate, Joe Salon, bought the ship in 1985, renaming it the Showboat Sari-S II, using his daughter's name in its new appellation, and moved it to the river a few blocks north of Ontario Street, before selling it.  The Showboat Sari-S II might be confused with another paddle-wheel steamboat that Salon ran as a restaurant, beginning in 1962.  They are two different vessels.  The last reference to the boat that I can find is in the "Metropolitan" section of the Chicago Tribune on August 28, 1992.  This brief item reports, "The U. S. Army Corps of Engineers has ordered the owner of a 215-foot boat that sank last month in a little-used part of the North Branch of the Chicago River to remove the vessel or face legal action . . . The owner of the vessel was ordered to install markers around the boat until it is removed.  The vessel sank in 16 feet of water on the east side of Goose Island just north of Chicago Avenue, said Lt. Col. David Reed, commander of the Corps District . . . Only the cabin portion is now above water, and the sunken craft obstructs about half of the navigational channel, Reed said."  Looking at a relatively recent Google Earth scan (judging by the look of the cars in the parking lot on the east side of the river), it looks like the hulk is still there. In the space where you might expect it to be found there are still buoys that warn boats using the slip to avoid that section of the river.   I can't find any reference to an attempt to raise the ship.  The last reference to her is that only the pilot house was showing.  My best guess is the whole thing just rotted away and sits submerged with a couple of feet of water covering it.  Kind of a sad story of a once proud vessel that was very much a part of the city's history. The photo above shows the boat when she was the clubhouse for the Columbia Yacht Club.  The second photo shows what I think is the boat today. 


September 14, 1939 – The Chicago Housing Authority is notified that its application for $7,719,000 of Public Works administration funding for the construction of a public housing complex has been approved.  This will be the fifth federal housing project in the city, following the Jane Addams houses, Julia Lathrop homes, Trumbull Park apartments, and the Ida B. Wells project that is under construction at Vincennes Avenue and Pershing Road.  Although the location is not disclosed so as to forestall real estate speculation, it is most likely that the new project will be near the Jane Addams homes and will comprise the Robert Brooks Homes with 835 row houses.  Elizabeth Wood, executive secretary of the Chicago Housing authority, says, “We will definitely be in competition with the lowest slum area houses.  We particularly want to afford accommodations for those families who now live in $15 a month flats.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, September 15, 1939]