Monday, February 29, 2016

February 29, 1960 -- Plans for Marina City Are Announced

February 29, 1960 -- Plans are announced for the 36 million dollar Marina City project on the Chicago River. At 60 stories and 555 feet the two towers are projected to be the tallest housing structures in the world and the fourth tallest buildings in the city. There will be parking for 900 cars with 256 efficiency apartments, 576 one-bedroom units and 64 two-bedroom units with rents projected to start at $115. Besides the apartment towers there are to be a 10-story office building, a one-acre plaza and a theater which will seat 1,200. There is to be no mortgage on the project. Financing will take place under Title 7 of the National Housing Act, under which the government guarantees the debt assumed by the developer.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

February 28, 1939 -- Wrigley Orders Dizzy Dean Shut Down

February 28, 1939 -- The Chicago Daily Tribune reports that owner P. K. Wrigley has taken matters into his own hands "in moving the spring flair of Diz (Dizzy Dean) as problem child." When Wrigley's personal representative came upon the Cub pitcher "pitching full blast at the full pitching distance [he] broke up the display in the name of the Cub owner, following full instructions from the Chicago throne room." Dean, a pitching phenom for the St. Louis Cardinals between 1933 and 1937, was injured by a line drive in the 1937 All-Star game. In 1938 Wrigley paid $185,000 to put the compromised pitcher on the Cubs roster. In September of that year, in what he called the greatest game of his career, Dean pitched the second game of a series with the Pittsburgh Pirates, winning 2-1, pulling the Cubs within a half-game of the league leading Pirates, a team from which the Cubs would wrest the National League championship the next day. Dean pitched Game Two of the World Series, pitching admirably until he gave up a two-run homer to Joe DiMaggio in the top of the ninth, ultimately losing 6-3. He struggled along with the Cubs until 1941 when he retired. Wrigley's interest in protecting his investment was certainly understandable, but ultimately it would not matter.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

February 27, 1919 -- Final Purchase of Land for Bridge at Michigan Avenue

February 27, 1919 -- The final three pieces of real estate necessary for the construction of the Michigan Avenue bridge are secured. The city pays $719,532 to the estate of W. F. McLaughlin for a piece of property on the east side of Michigan Avenue fronting the south side of the river. $62,500 goes to John S. Miller for a triangular piece of land across Michigan Avenue from the McLaughlin property. $91,760 goes to Levy Mayer for a small piece of property directly south of the McLaughlin holding. With these three transactions the city is ready to build the bridge that would change the north side of the city forever. The photo above shows the three pieces of property on each side of Michigan Avenue south of the river.

Friday, February 26, 2016

February 26, 1903 -- Studebaker Brothers Seal the Deal

February 26, 1903 -- With the payment of $100,000 the Studebaker brothers become absolute owners of the Fine Arts Building and the ground beneath it. The ground on which the building stood had been held in a 99-year lease that began in May of 1885 with an annual ground rent of $2,000. The building, designed by Solon Spencer Beman, opened in 1886 with a four-story annex added for use by the Art Institute in 1898. On July 7, 1978 the building was declared a Chicago City Landmark. The photo below shows the building as it looked in 1900.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

February 25, 1873 -- Steamed Up about the Boilers

February 25, 1873 -- The Chicago Daily Tribune reports on the annual report of the City Steam-Boiler Inspector for 1872, and the news is not encouraging. 765 boilers were inspected with nearly a third found defective. The paper reports, "In view of the rapid increase of the manufacturing and commercial interests of th city, requiring the use of steam as a motor in the factories, its use as a heater and ventilation in the schools, churches, hotels, and other public buildings, the consequent increase in the number of steam-boilers -- the majority of them distributed among the most populous districts int he city, beneath pavements, etc., -- he [the inspector] urged the necessity for further legislation to secure the object for which the ordinance was passed, -- the security of lives and property from dangers attendant upon the ignorant or careless management of steam."

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

February 24, 1920 -- Approval of Bond Issue Heralds Big Changes

February 24, 1920 -- With three out of every four voters favoring six South Park bond issue propositions on the ballot, Charles H. Wacker, chairman of the city's plan commission, says, "The victory of the South Park Commissions' bond proposals is the biggest, finest, and most far-reaching undertaking for the public good Chicago has launched in its entire history." The financing would allow for grading and completion of Grant Park at a cost of $3,700,000. Also forthcoming would be creation of the two levels of what is now Wacker Drive running east and west along the river, the building of the southern portion of Lake Shore Drive, the widening and improvement of Ashland Avenue, and at least a half-dozen other plans that within the space of a half-dozen years would change the city. The photo above shows the south section of Lake Shore Drive from about Thirty-Ninth Street just after it opened in the spring of 1930.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

February 23, 1955 -- Carson, Pirie & Scott Outbid on State Street Property

February 23, 1955 -- A bid that tops Carson Pierie Scott & Co.'s offer for the 12-story building at the corner of State and Madison Streets is submitted in federal district court. The bid tops Carson's offer of $7,250,000 by over $350,000. The courts become involved because the building's owner, the Otto Young estate, had previously specified that the property could not be sold until ten years after the death of the youngest daughter in the family, who, at 77, is still very much alive. However, three weeks earlier a judge ruled that the courts had the right to authorize the sale. The building in question, now a Target store, is perhaps the one building in Chicago that best represents the genius of architect Louis Sullivan.

Monday, February 22, 2016

February 22, 1914 -- New Citizens Celebrate at the Auditorium

Dr. Emil Hirsch
Mrs. Mary McDowell
February 22, 1914 -- Despite a blinding snowstorm, 2,200 out of the 4,700 citizens who have been naturalized since July 1, 1913 gather together at the Auditorium Building at the New Citizens' Allegiance Celebration. Dr. Emil G. Hirsch, who was born in Luxembourg, the rabbi of the Chicago Sinai Congregation gave the address. He tells the audience, "Let us be on our guard against tampering with our Americanism by hitching it to a hyphen . . . Let us see to it that our conduct disarms this anti-alien prejudice and show that American civilization has been enriched by reason of our being here." Mrs. Mary McDowell, head of the University of Chicago settlement, the "Angel of the Stockyards," spoke especially to the women of the audience, saying, "We must learn things from you. You must give us your sentiment and ideals, for they belong to us now, and we need them. If you like this city, you can help us make it fit to live in." Dr. Hirsch and Mrs. McDowell are pictured above.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

February 21, 1912 -- Snowstorm Brings City to a Halt

February 21, 1912 -- The worst February storm in 18 years brings business in Chicago to a standstill. Service on the Illinois Central suburban line is shut down at 1:30 p.m. after a northbound train crashes into the rear of a milk train, leaving stations crowded with passengers. The downtown hotels do a brisk business, taking in workers who are unable to find a train home. For the first time in the city's history the street cleaning bureau gives up the fight in the face of 52-m.p.h. winds that left workers lost in white-out conditions and horses wandering around in Grant Park. Policemen at crossings in the Loop are kept busy picking up people who have fallen or been blown into drifts. Members of a funeral party for 12-year-old Rose Myrtle Drautzburg, with her schoolmates acting as pallbearers, start for the Grand Trunk station at Forty-Seventh Street at 9:30 in the morning and wait for a train until 4:30 p.n. when they are informed that the train is cancelled. The estimate is that over 30,000 men are temporarily thrown out of work because of the weather.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

February 20, 1947 -- Chicago Gets the "Go" for a Lakefront Airport

February 20, 1947 -- The Illinois Department of Aeronautics approves Chicago's plan for the construction of the Northerly Island downtown air terminal. There are a couple of caveats -- no instruction flights would be permitted and the airport must be closed under unfavorable wind conditions. Additionally, a power boat must be kept available at all times for emergency use and pleasure boats would need to be prevented from becoming obstructions in landing approach zones. The island, originally created for the 1933 and 1934 Century of Progress World's Fair, is gone now and is in the process of being converted to a multi-use recreational area. The new incarnation of the park began at about 1:30 in the morning on March 31, 2003 when Mayor Daley ordered the bulldozing of the runway at Meigs with no advance warning, not even to the FAA.

Friday, February 19, 2016

February 19, 2009 -- The Birth of the Tea Party

February 19, 2009 -- Full-out rant at the Board of Trade as CNBC commentator Rick Santelli rails against President Obama's mortgage bailout plan. "The government is promoting bad behavior," Santelli storms. "This is America! How many of you people want to pay for your neighbor's mortgage that has an extra bathroom and can't pay their bills?" Sanely follows up by suggesting that a modern Chicago tea party might consider dumping derivative securities into Lake Michigan. It was on this Thursday morning that a whole new era in American politics is born. Here's the segment, just for old time's sake . . 

Thursday, February 18, 2016

February 18, 1945 -- Chicago Title and Trust Buys the Block

February 18, 1945 -- It is announced that the Chicago Title and Trust company has finally, after a 54-year buying program, gained control of the largest single piece of privately owned property in the Loop since 1897. The firm originally intended to locate its offices in a new building on the site at the corner of Washington Street and Dearborn, but opted instead to purchase the Conway Building ablock west and sell the large corner block next to the First United Methodist Church of Chicago for a development deemed "proper for such a big and strategic location." Ultimately, the Brunswick Corporation purchased the property, and in 1965 the SOM-designed headquarters for Brunswick was completed, at the time the tallest reinforced concrete structure in the world. The photo above shows the Brunswick Building (now offices for Cook County) under construction across the street from the Daley Center, completed in the same year.  The spire of the First United Methodist Church of Chicago separates government from the private sector.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

February 17, 1885 -- John Root Lectures on Architecture

February 17, 1885 -- Item from The Chicago Daily Tribune: "Mr. John Root, of the firm of Burnham and Root, delivered the third lecture of a course before the Art Institute last evening. His thoughts on architecture were expressed in rather technical language. He explained the necessity of simplicity, repose, and proportion in buildings; also how poorly-constructed chimneys accumulated soot. He illustrated his remarks with diagrams and pictures. About 150 people were present." What must it have been like to have been one of those 150 fortunate souls? Root's remarks would have been made at the second home of the Art Institute, pictured above, on the southwest corner of Van Buren and Michigan Avenue, a building designed by Burnham & Root and which is now occupied by the Chicago Club.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

February 16, 1954 -- Innovation in Public Transportation

February 16, 1954 -- Ralph Budd, chairman of the Chicago Transit Authority, proposes a plan for extending the city's rapid transit system. The greatest share of the plan involves adding to the city's rapid transit system by constructing rights of way for rail operation as part of the network of proposed super-highways. Mayor Kennelly called the proposal "remarkable." Arthur T. Leonard, president of the Chicago Association of Commerce, called the plan "both challenging and constructive." Observe the Red Line as you drive on the Dan Ryan or the Green Line along the Kennedy or the Blue Line running parallel to the Eisenhower, and you will see Budd's proposal at work today, the first time, at least in this country, when rapid transit was planned as an integral part of the highway system.

Monday, February 15, 2016

February 15, 1933 -- Chicago's Main Post Office Has Official Dedication

February 15, 1933 -- Postmaster General Walter F. Brown dedicates the world's largest post office in a ceremony that includes speeches, singing and music by the post office band in the lobby of the building's Van Buren Street entrance. In his remarks Brown said, "A few less than 7,000 workers normally will spend about one-third of their adult lives in this building. Here will be sorted and dispatched 6,500,000 letters and circulars, 300,000 packages and 80,000 sacks of newspaper and parcel post, which originate in Chicago each week, destined for every part of the globe."

Sunday, February 14, 2016

February 14, 1903 -- Daniel Burnham Shares Vision for Chicago

February 14, 1903 -- Architect Daniel Burnham describes his vision of a Chicago that includes parks and lagoons, gardens, forests, and broad carriage ways to the Merchants' Club. Burnham urged those present to ensure that the lake be made a beauty spot that would, according to The Chicago Daily Tribune, "keep at home the millions that are spent by Chicagoans at Venice, Paris, and other beauty spots of the old world." The president of the Merchants' Club, Alexander Agnew McCormick, added, "The Merchants' club is not committed and will not be committed to any fixed plan for converting the lake front into a park, but it does insist that the submerged lands along the lake shore shall be dedicated for a public park, to be used exclusively for a park. No buildings are contemplated in the general plan."

Saturday, February 13, 2016

February 13, 1926 -- Hood and Howells Receive Award

February 13, 1926 -- Raymond Hood and John Mead Howells are awarded the gold medal for their design of the most beautiful building erected in the north central section of the country in 1925. Architect Elmer C. Jensen, a member of the jury charged with determining the recipient of the gold medal award, said of Hood and Howell's design for Tribune Tower, "The erection of this beautiful structure has been a decided aid to the cause of good architecture. Not only will it have a good effect on architecture in Chicago, but the cause throughout the whole nation gains appreciably. I wish again to emphasize the incalcuable gain which art has made through the Tribune Tower."

Friday, February 12, 2016

February 12, 1949 -- North Central Association Condemns Water Filtration Plan

February 12, 1949 -- A spokesman for the North Central association charges that construction of a huge water filtration plant on 55 acres north of Navy pier would cause property values on the near north side to plummet. Frederick M. Bowes, vice president of the association, said that if the city attempts to build the plant it would be in violation of a contract signed by the former Lincoln Park board when riparian rights were obtained for the construction of what is now the inner drive, and he promised that the association would fight in the courts to have the project stopped. Harry L. Wells, the business manager for Northwestern University, which controlled a significant chunk of land in the area (and still does), said, "We'd like to see a fine territory developed around the university. When you start putting a filtration plant there it isn't going go be that kind of territory." The purification plant was, tied up in court for years, but it finally opened in 1968 as the James W. Jardine Water Purification Plant in the exact spot for which it was originally proposed.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

February 11, 2010 -- 3.8 Magnitude Earthquake Shakes the Midwest

February 11, 2010 -- A 3.8-magnitude earthquake centered in a farm field near Hampshire shakes a wide area from Wisconsin to Tennessee. At first reported to be a 4.3-magnitude quake, the estimate was revised downward after data was more closely analyzed. Whatever it was, it shook a lot of people in the area awake when it occurred at 3:59 in the morning.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

February 10, 1916 -- Hundred Guests Poisoned at University Club Banquet

February 10, 1916 -- More than 100 guests at a banquet in honor of Archbishop George William Mundelein, pictured above, are poisoned at the University Club after a cook, Jean Crones, puts arsenic in the soup. Mandelein, who had just arrived in Chicago to take over the city's archdiocese, had skipped the soup and was fine. No one died, but a third of Chicago's elite were mightily incommoded. There was little interest in the evening's entrées after the soup had its affect, and orders were quickly sent to hurry the ice cream and coffee and skip the cheese. In his address to the group, the Cardinal said, "I have one thing in view, one thing to perform. That is that when my days are ended and my work is done, the people of Chicago, irrespective of creed, will be grateful that I have come among them and that they will believe I have been a good influence not only to my church but to the whole city." Crones, the cook, turned out to be an Italian anarchist by the name of Nestor Dondoglio. He disappeared and was never caught.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

February 9, 1954 -- Survey Ordered for New Convention Center

February 9, 1954 -- The Chicago Park Fair corporation names the architectural firms of Holabird and Root and Burgee and Ralph H. Burke to make a world-wide survey of convention and exhibit halls with an eye toward building a state-of-the-art convention hall. The non-profit corporation was funded with Cook County's share of the one percent tax on race track betting. Ground would be broken on the hall, McCormick Place, in 1958 with its completion coming two years later. It lasted seven years until a spectacular fire on a frigid night in 1967 destroyed the structure.

Monday, February 8, 2016

February 8, 1900 -- River Sewage Threatens Chicago's Drinking Water

February 8, 1900 -- For the first time since the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal was opened in January the Chicago River reversed its westerly flow and headed into the lake. By evening a severe storm out of the southwest had flushed the sewers and washed the streets, sending the sewage in the water more than a mile into the lake, threatening the cribs that supplied drinking water to the city. The Chicago Daily Tribune reported, "The stream, which has been almost as blue as the lake, turned back to its old dingy black. The stopping of the current was bad enough with this burden of sewage thrust upon the channel, but the trouble was increased further by the wind, which blew a gale from the southwest and lowered the water in the main river over a foot. This caused a slight flow lake ward, and when the black water reached the piers the wind wafted it toward the cribs." It was another day in Chicago when it was safer to drink the whiskey than to trust the water.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

February 7, 1943 -- Hinky Dink Misses His First Pre-Election Meeting in 46 Years

February 7, 1943 -- The sky falls when Michael "Hinky Dink" Kenna misses his first Sunday afternoon pre-election meeting of the First Ward Democratic club in 46 years. The 5' 1" Kenna, who, along with "Bathhouse" John Coughlin, ran the most notoriously wicked, graft-driven ward in the city, controlled "The Levee" for another three years until his death at 89 in October of 1946. John Budinger, who had been chosen to replace Kenna on the City Council said of the "empty chair" at the meeting, "When our leader called me in and told me I had the privilege of being his candidate for alderman, it was the grandest thrill that ever happened to me." Chief Bailiff Albert J. Horan assured Budinger that he would have no trouble winning the seat, one way or another. He said, "We are not afraid of cries of investigation, for we are as open as babes in their mother's arms."

Saturday, February 6, 2016

February 6, 1911 -- Legislative commission Identifies Land Grab

February 6, 1911 -- The Chipperfield legislative commission on submerged lands reports that land estimated to be worth at least $250,000,000 has been "grabbed" from the public by private interests. The report identified 420 individuals, corporations, and private clubs that occupied "made" land -- land that was created by fill or natural causes -- along the coastline of the city and the banks of the Chicago River. The Illinois Central railroad was charged with illegally occupying 400 acres while the Chicago Dock and Canal company was accused of holding 60 acres of poached land. The report was especially harsh on the I. C., asserting "It is a history which reads like a romance, as to how the Illinois Central, starting in with a strip of 200 feet in width from the city limits northward, has continued to grasp and extend until now substantially 400 acres of the most valuable lands in the city of Chicago are in its possession." Pictured below, today's Ogden Slip, loaded with upscale high rises, was one such piece of created land. Abraham Lincoln was paid $350.00 to draft the paperwork that created the Chicago Dock and Canal Company, which built it.  The top picture was taken in 1985.  The photo below that sows how the area continues to evolve.  When Fort Dearborn was erected on the edge of the lake back in 1803 this entire area was under water.

Friday, February 5, 2016

February 5, 1998 -- Canadian National Announces Intent to Purchase I. C.

February 5, 1998 -- The Canadian National Railroad Co. announces that it is in negotiations to acquire the Illinois Central Railroad, the "Main Line of Mid-America," a railroad that began in 1849 when Senator Stephen Douglas secured a federal land grant for the start-up, the first such grant ever awarded to a railroad. Douglas was also instrumental in a deal that allowed the I. C. to purchase a 200-foot right of way through the South Side for $21, 310. Later, the line built a trestle in the lake opposite the center of the city that carried trains to a freight yard on the river. The fill that was over the years placed between that trestle and the edge of the city is now Grant Park. Mark Twain worked as a steamboat pilot on an Illinois Central boat that connected the railroad to the south. A young engineer named John Luther "Casey" Jones began his career operating trains that carried passengers form the Loop to the 1893 fair in Hyde Park. With Canadian National's announcement a love-hate relationship between Chicago and the Illinois Central that had lasted for close to 150 years was nearly at an end.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

February 4, 1862 -- The Bar Tender and the Widow

February 4, 1862 -- A man named Frederick Kuntz is arrested for shooting his wife. The Chicago Daily Tribune's coverage of the unfortunate event makes me wish that newspapers could return to this style. The article reads, "Kuntz was formerly a bar-tender in the employ of one William Veitz, who kept a saloon on Wells street, between Washington and Madison streets. In the course of time Veitz died, and the bar-tender married the widow, after she had sported her weeds a sufficient length of time, and succeeded to the charge of the saloon. The honeymoon was brief, for business is business and time is fleeting. Scarcely had it waned ere trouble commenced. The bar-tender manifested an affinity for other widows, and the widow for other bar-tenders. Criminations and recriminations followed, and the spirit of jealousy was aroused upon each side. On Sunday it culminated in a violent quarrel, during which Kuntz drew a revolver and discharged three barrels at her, the contents of the third taking effect in her side and inflicting a dangerous, and if inflammation sets in, a mortal wound." The bar-tender manifested an affinity for other widows, and the widow for other bar-tenders . . . you HAVE to love that kind of reporting!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

February 3, 1902 -- U. S. Supreme Court Backs the City in Battle with the Illinois Central

February 3, 1902 -- A dispute between Chicago and the Illinois Central Railroad is finally resolved after being dragged through the courts for nearly two decades. The United States Supreme Court found for the city in a case that involved "made land" running from Sixteenth Street to the river, land which did not exist when the city granted the railroad a 200-foot easement in the lake to build a trestle in the mid-1860's. When over the years that section of the lake lying between the trestle and Lake Park -- toady's Grant Park -- to the west was filled in, the Illinois Central assumed ownership of the new land. If the case had gone the other way Chicago would be a much different city today because the railroad would have been given control of one of the great stretches of urban shoreline in the world. BUT the Supreme Court found that the Great Lakes were to be preserved for the COMMON GOOD, and no private encroachment was to be allowed. The photo above gives a good look at what the lakefront looked like in the mid-1890's. The building closest to the railroad tracks with the squared dome and cupola is the Interstate Exposition Building, which was torn down in 1890 to make way for the Art Institute of Chicago.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

February 2, 2011 -- Snowmageddon

February 2, 2011 -- It's hard to believe that it has been five years already! On this day in 2011 Chicagoans were watching the end of the world as it unfolded. Beginning during rush hour the evening before, a brutal winter storm brought 70 m.p.h winds to the lakefront, along with thunder, lightning, and massive waves. Some snow drifts reached ten feet. Schools were cancelled for the first time in 12 years, and Lake Shore Drive was completely shut down with at least 900 cars and buses stuck there overnight and hundreds of motorists and bus riders afraid to abandon their vehicles in near white-out conditions. In excess of 19 inches of snow fell from late January 31 through February 2, the third largest storm in the city's recorded weather history.

Monday, February 1, 2016

February 1, 1955 -- First Phase of Congress Expressway Exceeds Expectations

February 1, 1955 -- Daniel Ryan (there is a name that sounds familiar), president of the Cook County board and William J. Mortimer, county highway superintendent, report that the first completed portion of the Congress Street "super-highway" is taking as many as 11,596 motorists a day from other highways. The 2.5 mile stretch from 1st Street in Maywood to Mannheim Road, was dubbed "the road to nowhere," but Ryan observed, "What we are finding is that motorists definitely will go out of their way to enjoy safe, continuous travel afforded on an expressway."