March 23, 1963 – An estimated half-million people turn out “in sparkling spring weather” [Chicago Tribune, March 24, 1963] to greet President John F. Kennedy, jamming the route of his motorcade “wherever he traveled during his four hour stay.” Secret service agents and police officers scramble at one point as the president orders his limousine stopped on the Cumberland Avenue overpass and gets out to shake hands with members of a crowd of several hundred people who had gathered at that location. Under the Lake Street viaduct on the expressway workers remove the plastic bubble top of the limousine and haul it away in a city truck. “Then, with the warm spring breezes ruffling his hair, Mr. Kennedy began his entry into the Loop, an entry made almost triumphant as the nation’s biggest Democratic organization turned all-out to greet the President and their mayoral candidate [Mayor Richard J. Daley] in the April 2 election.” Another moment that took the motorcade by surprise occurs on Jackson Boulevard, which is “the domain of the various ward organization delegations.” The bridge tender on Jackson gives the procession a salute by ringing the bridge’s bells and activating its flashing lights. The bridge remains stationary, though, and where “Jackson boulevard slashes thru the city’s financial district, the air was filled with confetti and ticker tape.” With temperatures near 60 degrees and bright sunshine throughout his short stay in the city, the president doubly felt the warmth of his Chicago welcome.
March 23, 1946 -- The United States Navy announces that the 265-foot U. S. S. Willmette will be sold, closing a chapter in Chicago history that began in 1903 when the ship was built as a freighter. It was almost immediately converted to a passenger ship that could hold as many as 2,000 people. The name of the ship was the Eastland, the ship that took 812 people to the grave when it capsized in the Chicago River on July 24, 1915. After she was raised, the Navy purchased the hulk and converted it to a training ship with a new name. Captain E. A. Evers, who lived in Willmette, and other interested citizens, were successful in having the ship named after that North Shore community. The Navy found no buyers for the ship, and it was decommissioned and broken up for scrap in that same year of 1946.