Monday, November 11, 2013

Grant Park Municipal Stadium renamed as Soldier Field -- November 11, 1925

Soldier Field, today, as seen from  Shedd Aquarium (JWB Photo)

It was on this date back in 1925 that the name of Grant Park Municipal Stadium was changed to Soldier Field.  The South Park Commission chose Armistice Day, the day in which the Great War ended in 1918, as an appropriate occasion for the dedication of the mammoth stadium, designed by Holabird and Roche and opened on October 9, 1924.

At the ceremony Frank O. Lowden, who had served as Illinois governor during World War I was the featured speaker.  Also speaking was Commander John Rodgers, who had earlier that year made an ill-fated attempt to fly from California to Hawaii in a flying boat.  He and his crew ran short on fuel hundreds of miles from the islands and floated in the Pacific for nine days before a United States submarine on routine patrol finally found them.

Army, Navy and Marine units participated in the ceremony, along with a dozen R.O.T.C. units from Chicago high schools as well as the bands from Senn and Bowen High Schools.  The dedication was concluded with a contingent of Marine buglers, playing Taps.

Tribune coverage of the event makes mention of a pennant bearing the words “Soldiers’ Field” being raised beneath the American flag as the ceremony began.  That raises an issue about which Chicagoans have always wondered, at least those of us two or three generations removed from the original dedication ceremony . . . Is it “Soldiers’ Field” or “Soldier Field”? 

The South Park Commissioners very clearly sought to rename the stadium Soldier FieldThe Chicago Tribune, however, strenuously objected to the illogical grammatical choice of renaming the great field after a single soldier and for years refused to use the correct name of the stadium.

In an editorial on October 22, 1925 the paper proclaimed

Try to say Soldier Field.  Then ask what soldier.  Maybe Mike, or it might have been Jan or possibly Sven.  Maybe because Harvard has the older Soldiers’ Field the south park commissioners thought they ought not to be copy cats in entirety . . . Regardless of our local room, copy desk, proof-room, and everything else that stands between us and the production of a perfect newspaper, it is Soldiers’ Field, plural in the hope that America will have more than one when more are needed and will regard more than one when more have been used.  It’s Soldiers’ Field, now and forever in this space on this newspaper.

Grant Park Municipal Stadium under construction in 1923 (Photo courtesy of  Calumet 412)


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