Friday, November 24, 2017

November 24, 1951 -- Congress Hotel to Lose 25 Feet

November 24, 1951 – Albert Pick, Jr., the president of Pick Hotels Corporation, the owner of the Congress Hotel, announces that 15 feet will be removed from the north end of the hotel so that a sidewalk arcade can be created along the proposed Congress super-highway.  The Glass Hat dining room will be moved to another part of the hotel, and the Pompeiian Room will be enlarged.  According to Pick, new shops will line the arcade with 13 first-floor shops on the Congress Street and Michigan Avenue frontages of the building.  Holabird, Root and Burgee will be in charge of the plans for the buildings re-configuration.  When the arcade is completed, and a similar arcade on the south side of the arcade also is finished, Congress Street will have a pavement width of 63 feet.  Similar arcades will be created at the south end of the Sears, Roebuck and Company’s State Street store to allow the widening of Congress between Wabash and State.  The top photo shows the Pompeiian Room as it appeared after the move was completed.  The photo above shows the dining room as it appeared in 1921.

November 24, 1936 – Nine people are killed and 58 others injured as a North Shore Line train crashes into the rear of an Evanston express elevated train.  The Evanston train is standing at a switch 50 feet north of the Granville Avenue station when the first car of the North Shore train slams into the back of it, plowing “all the way through the wooden rear coach of the Evanston train, shearing off its roof and splintering it like a match box.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, November 25, 1936]  The wreck occurs at about 6:30 in the evening, and the horrors unfold in near total darkness.  The motorman of the North Shore train, Van R. Grooms, says, “I was traveling about 40 miles an hour.  Then I saw the rear of the Evanston train.  The lights were very dim.  I put on my brakes, and that’s the last thing I know.”  Firemen, working with flashlights, raise ladders along the elevated embankment and carry passengers from the wrecked trains.  Eventually, more than 600 police are at the scene, along with two companies of firemen, 20 police ambulances, and three fire department ambulances.  A regular rider on the Evanston train says, “I’ve been taking the train almost regularly for a number of years.  Each evening a few moments after the express switches onto the local track the North Shore roars by on the express track.  I have often thought that the timing of the two trains was too close for safety.”

Thursday, November 23, 2017

November 23, 1907 -- Michigan Avenue Plans Draw Negative Response

November 23, 1907 – Michigan Avenue property owners between Randolph Street and the river go “on the warpath” [Chicago Daily Tribune, November 24, 1907] over plans for the improvement of Michigan Avenue.  Twenty-two owners in the area meet at the offices of Attorney George Packard, a space covered in “maps and cross sections drawn by Holabird and Roche” and after much discussion decide “to push the scheme and if possible defeat the Commercial club plan as drawn by Daniel H. Burnham.”  The group united behind a plan for Michigan Avenue in which “the present street grade would be raised eight feet from Randolph street to Illinois street, the Northwestern railroad tracks, just north of the river, would have to be depressed six feet, and intersecting streets between the northern and southern boundaries for the raised grade would be depressed and sent through subways.”  It is interesting to note that nearly two years before the Chicago Plan of 1909 was published, Burnham and the Commercial Club were hard at work on plans to improve the city.  It is also interesting how the two premiere architectural firms in the city have found themselves on opposite sides on this showdown over plans for Michigan Avenue.  Michigan Avenue hasn't much changed three years later when the above photo was taken in 1910.  The picture was taken from the southeast corner of Michigan Avenue and Randolph Street, looking toward the river.

November 23, 1912 – The Rouse Simmons, Chicago’s “Christmas tree ship,” is last seen between Kewaunee and Two Rivers, Wisconsin with distress flags flying. The owner of the ship, Herman Schuenemann, began the business with his brother in 1885.  After his brother was lost when one of their ships foundered off Glencoe in 1898, Schuenemann got to work at lowering the cost of the business, sailing farther and farther north where he could buy trees more cheaply and establishing a market on the southwest corner of the Clark Street Bridge at which he could sell the trees directly from the deck of the ship. Schuenemann was an experienced sailor and businessman who had sailed on the annual Christmas tree voyages on at least five ships over the years, but cost cutting may have been his undoing.  The Rouse Simmons was re-caulked after the 1911 trip, but in 1912 the owner skipped the operation.  The weight of the 5000 trees above and below deck far exceeded recommendations for a voyage at that time of the year, and when an early storm moved in early in the morning of November 23, it was too much.  The wet trees on deck began to ice over, and the ship, riding low in the water, was no match for the forces of nature.  A message in a bottle that washed up sometime after the ship went down read, “Friday . . . everybody, goodbye.  I guess we are all through. During the night the small boat washed overboard.  Leaking bad.  Invalid and Steve lost too.  God help us.”  Sixteen men and one woman were lost when the ship went down 30 miles south of Ahnapee, Wisconsin, the town in which Captain Schuenemann was born. Captain Herman Schuenemann with his trees is pictured above.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

November 22, 1905 -- Marshall Field, Jr. Found Shot

November 22, 1905 – Marshall Field, Jr. is discovered, shot through his left side just below the ribs at 5:30 p.m. in the dressing room of his residence at 1919 Prairie Avenue.  He is rushed to Mercy Hospital where Dr. Arthur Dean Bevan attempts to save his life.  Field lingers for five days before succumbing to his wound on November 27, “… conscious until the last few minutes … his last act before he closed his eyes was to smile encouragingly at his wife.” [Tebbel, John. The Marshall Fields: A Study in Wealth.  E. P. Dutton and Co., 1947] The circumstances of his death are cloaked in shadow.  Some say that he was preparing for an upcoming hunting trip and accidentally discharges a weapon while cleaning it, but accounts at the time indicate that the weapon was almost impossible to discharge accidentally. A report given by the doctor who responded to the shooting at the Field mansion says that Field told him he had no idea how he came to have been shot and called the wound an accident.  Yet, reports suggest that, given the nature of the wound, it would have been unlikely for the shooting to have been an accident.  Rumors also circulate that Field had been shot in an altercation at a club run by the Everleigh sisters on Dearborn Street and carried to his home, just blocks away.  On December 1, a coroner’s jury returned its verdict, the official conclusion to the investigation.  The decision reads, “We find that Marshall Field Jr. came to his death from paralysis of the bowels following a bullet wound in the seventh intercostal space, about four inches to the left of the medial line, and from the testimony presented find that the said paralysis resulted from a bullet wound accidentally inflicted by a revolver in the hand of the deceased at his home, 1919 Prairie avenue.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, December 2, 1906] The Field home, where the only son of the great merchant suffered his fatal wound, still exists today, divided into a number of upscale residential units.  It is pictured above.

November 22, 1936 – Ernest Robert Graham dies at his home at 25 Banks Street at the age of 68, his death attributed to overwork.  At the age of 16 Graham went to work for his father in Lowell, Michigan, as a carpenter and mason.  Of this early labor he later said, “Honest toil never hurt anyone regardless of age.  My work with the trowel stood up with the best of them.  These were the days when a bricklayer laid three thousand bricks a day.”  [Architecture and Planning of Graham, Anderson, Probst and White – 1912-1936. Chappell, Sally A. Kitt]  By the age of 20 he had earned degrees from Coe College and the University of Notre Dame.  At that point he came to Chicago and entered the employ of Daniel Burnham, drawing plans for the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893.  When Daniel Burnham died in 1912, Graham and three other architects took over the firm, going on to design some of the great second-generation buildings in the city.  They include the Wrigley Building, the Field Museum, the Shedd Aquarium, the Merchandise Mart, 135 South La Salle, Union Station, the Pittsfield Building, and the main post office.  Services for the architect take place at the Fourth Presbyterian Church on November 24, after which he is interred in Graceland Cemetery.