Tuesday, May 31, 2016

May 31, 1952 -- Big Heart at the Science Museum

May 31, 1952 – Major Lenox R. Lohr, president of the Science Museum, today’s Museum of Science and Industry, announces that visitors will soon be able to walk through an 18-foot heart, part of a 3,000 square foot exhibit sponsored by the Chicago Heart Association. As part of the experience a human pulse will be audible. In another part of the exhibit the circulation of blood will be illustrated. The heart would fit into the chest of a 28-story human, which will make the museum an educational facility with a very big heart, indeed.

Monday, May 30, 2016

May 30, 1893 -- Cornerstone for the Memorial Hall of the Grand Army of the Republic Is Laid

May 30, 1893 – The laying of the cornerstone of the new Memorial Hall on the southwest corner of Michigan Avenue and Randolph Street takes place under the direction of the Grand Army of the Republic. Both streets are crowded with veterans and ordinary citizens “all anxious to behold the ceremony and listen to the addresses incident upon the formal commencement of the creation of a magnificent structure, which will be a credit to the city and take high rank among the costly edifices already so numerous in Chicago.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, May 31, 1893] The plot of ground, known as Dearborn Park, was originally part of the southern boundary of Fort Dearborn, part of the “public ground” that extended east to the lake and south to Madison Street. It required a coming together of the Directors of the Chicago Public Library and the Grand Army of the Republic and their joint effort to get a bill through Congress that would allow construction on the land. It took persistence . . . the legislation only passed after three attempts over the course of ten years to get the deal done. In a simple ceremony the flag is run to the top of the flag pole, a band plays the Star Spangled Banner and dozens of artifacts are placed in a copper box that will lie below the cornerstone. Then General E. A. Blodgett, the Commander of the Illinois Grand Army of the Republic, closes the ceremony, saying, “In the name of the soldiers and sailors who have saved our nation we thank you for the honor. We rejoice that our city thus proclaims to the world that patriotic self-sacrifice is not to be forgotten. We trust that our beloved land may never again be deluged in blood. Yet we remember that the perils of peace are scarcely less than the perils of war. The demands for loyalty are as great upon the sons as they were upon the sires. The price of liberty is eternal vigilance.” The Memorial Hall with its great dome occupies the northern half of what is today the Chicago Cultural Center. The photo above 
shows the site at the time with Randolph Street on the right and Washington Boulevard on the left.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

May 29, 1906 -- Spectacular Fire in Armour Elevator "D"

May 29, 1906 – A fire breaks out in Armour Elevator “D,” located on a slip on the west side of the Chicago River at approximately Twenty-Second Street and Morgan, smoldering undetected until it blows out the north and south ends of the elevator and lights the night sky enough to be seen from Ravenswood to South Chicago. Sixty-two fire engines, some of them from as far north as Lakeview, and three fireboats are called to fight the fire in a massive structure containing a million bushels of wheat, corn and oats. The first firemen on the scene have to haul their equipment down a bank to the slip to get close enough to the fire. There are no nearby fire hydrants, so all of the water has either to be pulled from the slip or else come from fireboats. The massive Commonwealth Electric company plant northwest of the elevator is repeatedly ignited by burning embers, so the fire department’s efforts are devoted chiefly to saving it as well as lumber yards that lie to the west. Acting Fire Chief McDonough states, “It was impossible to save the elevators, and all the efforts of the department were directed to saving the millions of dollars’ worth of property in the vicinity. The recent rains soaked the lumber in the adjacent yards and probably did considerable toward stopping the spread of the flames.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, May 30, 1906] The photo above shows the elevator as it appeared before the fire, which must have been a spectacular conflagration.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

May 28, 1926 -- Plan for Builder's Mart Announced

May 28, 1926 – It is announced that the Builder’s Mart, with a design by Graham, Anderson, Probst and White, will be erected at the southwest corner of Wacker Drive and La Salle Street. This will be the first improvement on the brand new Wacker Drive west of 35 East Wacker, completed in 1926. A. E. Coleman, President of the Building Construction Employers’ Association, said, “[This building] willtend to unite the business interests identified with the building industry. The popularity of such a proposition has been signified by building interest, as more than fifty per cent of the space already has been applied for.” In addition to Coleman’s association, it is anticipated that the structure will also hold the Chicago Master Steamfitters’ association, the Builders’ Association of Chicago, the Iron League of Chicago, the Illinois Highway Contractors’ association, and the Illinois branch of the Associated General Contractors of America. There will also be 10,000 square feet of space set aside for the Builders’ Club. Off the lower level of Wacker Drive will be a garage with space for 150 vehicles. The 1927 building stands on the right side of La Salle Street in the photo above with a glassy addition designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill that was completed in 1986.

Friday, May 27, 2016

May 27, 1975 -- What Will Be the Future of Navy Pier?

May 27, 1975 – After a City Council subcommittee approves $7.2 million for the rehabilitation of Navy Pier, a project that the Department of Public Works estimates may take closer to $34 million, the Chicago Tribune weighs in with its opinion. “Either it will be revived somehow,” the editorial states, “or it will be a big black eye on Chicago’s face as long as it remains. We hope a practical way can and will be found to make Navy Pier once again used, attractive, well served by public transportation from end to end as well as to it. The site is one of the most scenic and interesting urban sites in the country. Surely some time Chicago will find a means of turning Navy Pier’s unused potential into reality.”

Thursday, May 26, 2016

May 26, 1952 -- Underground Garage for Grant Park Unveiled

May 26, 1952 – The Chicago Park District unveils a $2,500 model of the underground garage that it is preparing to build in Grant Park. Anticipated plans have the garage situated between Randolph and Monroe Streets and between the Illinois Central railroad tracks to a point within 40 feet of buildings on the west side of Michigan Avenue. The two-level garage, 23 feet below Michigan Avenue, will occupy 400,000 square feet and will hold 2,500 cars. Fees will be 45 cents for the first hour and 15 cents an hour after that. The first hour today will cost you twenty-one bucks.  The photo above shows the 1954 opening of the garage with the Prudential building, finished a year later, under construction in the background.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

May 25, 1930 -- Proposal for Outer Drive Bridge

May 25, 1930 – The Chicago Daily Tribune reports that the design for the $10,000,000 outer drive “link bridge” will be the city’s first use of “modern architecture . . . expressive of its function.” [Chicago Tribune, May 25, 1930] President Warren Wright of the Lincoln Park park commission says of the design, “The approved design is a restrained modern treatment, simple, dignified and massive. It is not only in keeping with the present day trends but it is thoroughly practical. Flat stone weathers better, looks better and needs less attention and repair than ornamented surfaces. Incidentally, the design gives ample room for the operators’ houses and excellent visibility from them, while its bold and concentrated ornamentation eliminates the need for much overall treatment.” When completed in 1937 Roosevelt Bridge, one of the most important Depression projects of the Works Progress Administration, was the longest, widest, heaviest bridge in the world. Each of the bridges 6,240 ton leaves was heavier than any bascule in existence. Today it is a massive example of industrial Art Deco design.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

May 24, 1954 -- Illinois Supreme Court Okays Filtration Plant

May 24, 1954 – The Illinois Supreme Court rules that Chicago may proceed with construction of its 96 million-dollar water filtration plant just north of Navy Pier. Near north side property owners are huddling to determine whether to ask for a rehearing or take the case against the city directly to the United States Supreme Court. In his opinion Judge Harry B. Hershey finds that the 85-acre filtration plant will not be an “unreasonable interference” to navigation and will not violate an 1891 series of contracts in which lake front property owners gave up their rights to submerged lands with the understanding that the park district would use the property for park purposes. The court finds that the property in question is beyond the 250 feet over which the park district has control. “. . . the reclamation of this submerged land and the construction of a filtration plant thereon can constitute no violation by the park district of its covenant with the property owners,” the court’s opinion states. [Chicago Tribune, May 25, 1954] To the right of the long Municipal Pier, today's Navy Pier, extending out into the lake is the location of the site of the proposed water purification plant. It took nearly a half-dozen years of court battles to get the project finally prepared for take-off.

Monday, May 23, 2016

May 23, 1969 -- First National Bank of Chicago Prepares to Open

May 23, 1969 – Brink’s armed guards move all of the money and securities in the First National Bank of Chicago through a temporary underground tunnel and into the hands of waiting tellers in the bank’s new building on Monroe Street, between Dearborn and Clark. The whole operation takes place in less than 30 minutes. At the close of business on this Friday tellers are told to move to their spaces in the new building just to the east, where they find workers still installing bullet proof windows at their counters. The following Monday the new bank will be open, and the process of tearing down the old one will begin.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

May 22, 1934 -- Five Killed in Water Tank Collapse

May 22, 1934 – Disaster occurs at the Oakley building, 143 West Austin Avenue, when a 40,000 gallon water tank on the top of the building falls through the roof and smashes through the core of the building to the first floor. Five workers inside the building are killed and another half-dozen seriously injured. One of the injured, Clyde Otto, who was hurt in the stampede for the fire escapes describes the event: “The walls began to shake all of a sudden and we heard a series of crashes – I guess it was the tank hitting the various floors. The girls began to scream and every one rushed for the fire escape.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, June 2, 1934] The last inspector to examine the tank was Daniel Hartford, who had approved it in January. Appearing before an inquest on June 1 he was asked how much he knew about the work he was doing. Hartford answered, “I didn’t know anything about it . . . I’m just the same as you or anybody else who might inspect it.” A few days later the city’s building commissioner says that of the 3,000 water tanks on city roofs the building department only has records for two-thirds of them. At least a thousand such tanks were built before 1919 when the state required that blueprints of the tanks be filed with the building department.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

May 21, 1973 -- Report on Revitalizing the Central City Is Printed

May 21, 1973 -- The Chicago Tribune prints a report on the full plan to revitalize the central area of the city, a plan for which the Chicago Central Area Committee paid Skidmore, Owings & Merrill nearly $400,000 to draft. Today it is interesting to note what parts of the plan “made it” and what recommendations did not. The stakes were high. As the Tribune observes, “If it bombs, downtown Chicago may bomb, too.” The report puts into words what “white leaders don’t know how to talk about . . . without sounding like bigots.” Whites running from the city to the suburbs, which are becoming increasingly independent of the city. A “growing schizophrenia [skyscrapers and stores bustling by day, with little action at night] . . . changing the Loop. Blacks “still crowded into housing projects like Cabrini-Green” and the potential of a “tipping point where whites start staying away” from the city.
The 1973 SOM plan suggested "gradual modification." for projects such as Cabrini Green.

The above photo shows Cabrini Green as it sprawled across the northwest side of the city. 

Here are some of the recommendations that we can look on 43 years later and admire the prescience of the planners of the early 1970’s:

  Meigs Airport will be scrapped and Northerly Island, on which it stands converted to park, beach and picnic use.

  Navy Pier will be transformed into a lively recreational facility with restaurants, an auditorium, and exhibits.

  No further private construction will be permitted east of Lake Shore Drive.

  A miniature supercity for 120,000 would be concentrated on 650 acres of largely unused railroad land, south of the Loop.

  Means would be found to encourage major development of the Chicago Dock and Canal Trust property along the north side of the river between St. Clair Street and the lakefront.

  Rehabilitation and stabilization – not clearance, or relocation – are stressed for the Pilsen and East Humboldt Park neighborhoods.

And here are a few that didn’t get done:

  A giant sports arena would be built south of the Loop.  It would be within easy distance of the lakefront if not actually on it.

  Lake Shore Drive, where it runs along Grant Park, would be narrowed and left turns would be prohibited, forcing motorists heading for the central business district to park in new public lots on the Loop’s fringes and ride on a new subway or another form of public transportation.

  The Loop elevated will be torn down and replaced with a subway.   Once free of the elevated’s shadow, the east side of Wabash Avenue will be converted to a pedestrian-oriented shopping street.

  A personalized, automated rapid transit system might connect the “super blocks” of the South Loop to the center of the city over Illinois Central Gulf Railroad air rights.  A passenger would enter a small car, push a button on a map showing his destination, and zip away automatically.

And . . . a few that sort of got done:

  Traffic on State Street would be narrowed to four lanes for buses and taxis only  Autos would be banned.   Widened sidewalks with tees and shrubs would form pleasant promenades.  (This one happened in an experiment that didn’t work and was reversed.)

  Gradual modification of Cabrini Green is proposed.  (It got modified down to bare ground.)

Friday, May 20, 2016

May 20, 1965 -- Plaza of the Americas Dedicated

May 20, 1965 – The Plaza of the Americas on the north side of the Wrigley building is opened, extending from the lot line on Michigan Avenue almost to Rush Street. This is the first of two great public spaces on Michigan avenue to be developed by private interests. Pioneer Court, jointly developed by the Tribune Company and the Equitable Life Assurance Society of the United States will open on the east side of the avenue in one more month. Pioneer Court is a joint undertaking of the Wrigley company and Apollo Savings and Loan Association of Chicago, which occupies the building just to the north of the Wrigley Building. That building is now the Realtor Building at 430 North Michigan Avenue. On this day in 1965 at 11:45 the flags of Chicago and the United States are raised, followed by the flags representing the nations of the Organization of American States. There is to be a pole set aside for the Cuban flag, but no flag will be raised. “It was decided that until Cuba becomes free, its flag would not be flown,” Edward P. Kelly, the chairman of Apollo Savings, says. [Chicago Tribune, May 16, 1965]

Thursday, May 19, 2016

May 19, 1893 -- Judge Decrees Lake-Front Park Must Remain a Public Park

May 19, 1893 -- The battle for the city’s lakefront, which continues to this day, commences as a judge issues a restraining order that prevents the city from leasing any part of the Lake-Front Park “to a circus or to any party or parties for any purpose except as a public park.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, May 20, 1893] Although the judge says that he will allow the circus to continue in the park until the end of its run on June 5, he orders that all other parties leasing space in the park must get the heck out. Elbridge Haney, attorney for Montgomery Ward & Co., says, “The city authorities have rented the property at ridiculously low figures to circuses and other shows. This year they have rented it for two weeks for $5,000. Then the city has for years maintained a yard for storing paving blocks, tar wagons, stones, old lumber, and all sorts of rubbish, and lately it proposes to add another objectionable building for stabling sixty garbage horses and wagons. Last Monday it commenced the erection of such a building, and I compelled the city to quit work as soon as I discovered it.” However it comes out, the battle over the proposed Lucas Museum of Narrative Arts, pictured above, is just one more episode in a 125-year narrative about how best to use the city's lakefront.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

May 18, 1967 -- Officials Predict a Million Chicago Passengers Moving by Helicopter

May 18, 1967 – Officials of Chicago Helicopter Airways, Inc. predict that the helicopter line may be hauling a million passengers annually within a few years. The chairman of the company, John S. Gleason, Jr., says that preliminary plans have begun for developing a downtown heliport in Grant Park or on adjacent Illinois Central air rights. Gleason is encouraged by reports that a projection of 300 flights a day operating out of a revamped Midway Airport could result in the shuttling of a million passengers a year between Midway, O’Hare and the Loop. He is also optimistic about a third major airport being built in the lake. Optimism is the engine that turns the rotors, right? Even if the craft never gets off the ground, the noise sure gets your attention.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

May 17, 1913 -- Frank Chance Day at Comiskey Park

May 17, 1913 – In a rare display of cross-town (even cross-country) unity over 35,000 Chicagoans slip through the turnstiles at Comiskey Park to pay tribute to New York Yankee manager Frank Leroy Chance, a former North Sider. As I. E. Sanborn reported for the Chicago Daily Tribune, “It was impossible at anytime to tell Chance fans from Sox fans. For that one day each was both and both each.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, May 18, 1913] The festivities begin at 2:00 p.m. when the White Sox band marches onto the field from the south entrance and settles behind home plate. For an hour afterward the “field looked like anything but a baseball park. The diamond was full of acrobats, tumblers, jugglers, trick dogs, human snakes and Sandows (professional bodybuilders).” Just before 3:00 Chance heads to home plate with the Yankee line-up, accompanied by Governor Edward Dunne and Mayor Carter Harrison. The fans jump up “with a roar which in the aggregate sounded like several hundred Niagaras all working at once.” The crowd is even more enthusiastic when it is learned that Chance will play first base for an inning with the New York team. Before that, though, he is presented with a pair of giant floral pieces eight feet tall, and a horseshoe of red carnations and roses. Chance had led the Cubs to World Series championships in 1907 and 1908, but in 1912 while in the hospital recovering from blood clots that resulted from blows to the head from pitches, the Cubs released him and the Yankees signed him to a three-year contract worth $120,000. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1946, 22 years after his death. On this day in 1913, though, the city is his – not so the game, which the last-place Sox won, 6-2. As Sanborn wrote, “It was a wonderful testimony to the warm spot Chicago has in its heart for the young Lochinvar (You won’t see too many baseball writers these days making reference to Sir Walter Scott in their copy . . .) who came out of the farthest west more than a dozen years ago, stole a bride among its fairest daughters, and gave the city in return a proud place in the annals of baseball.”

Monday, May 16, 2016

May 16, 2000 -- Editorial Rips Millennium Park Plans

May 16, 2000 – The Chicago Tribune editorializes about cost overruns at Millennium Park. “Private-sector corporations generally prefer the design-build method of contracting for new facilities,” the editorial observes. “They hire a unified team of architects and builders that can deliver an agreed-to building for an agreed-to price. Then there’s the method Mayor Richard Daley is using on the Millennium Project . . . you might call it the design-as-you-build method.” At issue is a Frank Gehry-design that as originally proposed was supposed to cost 150 million dollars and which had by this time risen to $270 million. “And crews are still building the support structure,” the editorial sniped. “What happens when they start adding the fancy stuff?” In a stinging conclusion, the editorial asks, “And one last question for the planners: After you’ve made your last change and gotten your elegant little culture park just the way you like, where are the hoi polloi going to go for the Blues, Jazz, Gospel and Taste concerts that are too big for Millennium Park? Or is that just another small, hanging detail?” A space of over 15 years is probably time enough to judge whether the “little culture park” was worth the investment. Judging from the crowds at almost any time of the year, it feels as if the “small, hanging details” worked out. The photo above shows the park as it started to take shape in 2001.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

May 15, 1938 -- Chicago Post Office Receives Mail by Helicopter

May 15, 1938 – An “autogiro” takes off from the Chicago Airport (today’s Midway) at 1:40 p.m., lands on the roof of the main post office at 1:45 and heads back to the airport 15 minutes later. This is a symbolic flight. The two-seater rotor craft will only carry 200 pounds of mail, and it can only fly about 100 miles per hour. BUT this event, as the Chicago Daily Tribune points out, “ . . . presages the day when all mail will be flown between these two points.” With pilot Johnny Miller in the cockpit, the autogiro takes off on the first day of National Air Mail Week, commemorating the day twenty years earlier when air mail service was initiated. The sacks of mail are delivered directly to Postmaster Ernest J. Kruetgenon who stands on the roof of the post office, 14 stories above the Chicago River. Only 200 guests are on the post office roof, but the event is seen and heard by many. The Field Building at 135 South La Salle opens its entire fortieth floor to spectators, and the Board of Trade opens its forty-fourth floor to the public. The event is also covered by W.G.N., WBBM, and the coast-to-coast Mutual broadcasting system.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

May 14, 1920 -- Michigan Avenue Bridge Opens

May 14, 1920 – The Michigan Avenue bridge is opened to traffic. It took 24 years and four city mayors to get the project completed, a project that began, according to Mayor William Hale Thompson, with a suggestion from the wife of the city controller in 1891, Mrs. Horatio N. May, who thought it might be just swell to have a link across the river at Michigan Avenue. Twenty years later the first plans for the bridge were drawn up, and in 1913 the first ordinance pertaining to the construction of the bridge was passed. Condemnation proceedings, authorization of bonds to finance the project, and the federal government’s objection to the use of steel for the bridge during wartime kept construction from beginning until April 15, 1918. Finally, at 4 p.m. on this day Mayor Thompson leads a motorcade from Congress Plaza up Michigan Avenue to the new bridge, where he cuts the ceremonial ribbon. Airplanes appear above and drop confetti. Four thousand cars follow the mayor’s automobile across the new bridge. A tiny dirt road on the north side of the river called Pine Street is now poised to become one of the city’s most impressive thoroughfares.

Friday, May 13, 2016

May 13, 1889 -- Ft. Sheridan Inspection

May 13, 1889 – The Secretary of War, Redfield Proctor, visits the site of Fort Sheridan, accompanied by a party of officers and gentlemen of the Commercial Club. The group is transported to the barren outpost by a special train that leaves the Northwestern station at Wells Street at 9:00 a.m. and returns at 1 p.m. The post commander, Colonel Lyster, meets the delegation at the station with an ambulance drawn by four government mules. The Chicago Daily Tribune writes, “The visit . . . was under circumstances most disadvantageous, the day being raw and the roads muddy.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, May 14, 1889] There isn’t much to see – “. . . one story frame barracks – shanties – and other buildings”. On the north end of the post the visitors are shown the proposed site for the commandant’s house. “Notwithstanding the gloomy day,” the paper reports, “the scene was inviting. The grove was blooming with wild flowers, and the angry swash of the turbulent lake many feet below was a recommendation of the spot superior to anything which had met the Secretary’s view during his Western visit.” If first impressions are everything, the new post falls woefully short. The report continues, “. . . it became apparent that construction of the post was not to be on that magnificent plan at first contemplated. The terra cotta pressed brick, the fine hardwood floors, the frescoed walls, and magnificence of palatial quarters had dwindled to plain yellow brick and papered walls. The commandant’s mansion had had a shrinkage from $30,000 to $15,000 and the contracts awarded yesterday called for only $2,000 more than the first appropriation.” The architects involved, Martin Roche and William Holabird, made it all work, though, and the Town of Fort Sheridan is a showplace today. The former quarters of the commandant appear above.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

May 12, 2011 -- The Feds Demand a Change

May 12, 2011 – The Chicago Tribune reports that the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency has ordered Chicago to improve its sewage treatment system so that the river will be clean enough for “recreation in and on the water.” [Chicago Tribune, May 13, 2011] The new order goes far beyond those of a state panel that a year earlier had issued guidelines that would make the river clean enough for canoers and paddlers who “briefly fell into the water”. The ruling will necessitate two out of three of the city’s massive sewage treatment plants having to be overhauled. The Metropolitan Water Reclamation District estimates the cost will be close to $1 billion while the EPA puts the estimate at something less than $250 million. “We’ve got a chance for our generation to do something big for this important river,” says Senator Dick Durbin.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

May 11, 1925 -- Tribune Towering Fly Ball

May 11, 1925 – Ten thousand people jam Michigan Avenue as Ray Schalk, catcher for the Chicago White Sox, shows the crowd how to catch a ball thrown from the 560-foot top of Tribune Tower. Traffic is blocked on the Magnificent Mile for 20 minutes as Schalk makes three attempts to catch the ball. The first ball bounces off scaffolding and never makes it to the catcher’s glove. The second bounces off his glove, but he candn’t make the grab. Using both hands on the third attempt, Schalk makes the catch. With the ball successfully in hand “ . . . the coppers on horseback were needed to get Ray back out of the throng so he could get to the ball park for the afternoon game.” [Chicago Tribune, May 12, 1925] The police could have taken it easy. Although their catcher caught the ball thrown from Tribune Tower, the Sox dropped the game to the Washington Senators, 9-0. Ray Schalk did not play.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

May 10, 1928 -- The Bremen Airmen Land in Chicago

May 10, 1928 – After a delay caused by rain, combined with landing at the wrong airfield, the “Bremen airmen” touch down at Chicago Airport (today’s Midway) and are greeted by 5,000 Chicagoans who have waited for three hours in intermittent drizzle to greet them. Nearly a month earlier the three airmen had taken off in a Junkers W 33 airplane from Baldonnel Aerodrome in Ireland, arriving on Greenly Island, Canada on April 13, thereby becoming the first fliers to make a successful crossing of the Atlantic Ocean from east to west. The crew is made up of pilot Captain Hermann Köhl, a navigator, Major James Fitzmaurice, an Irishman, and the owner of the aircraft, Ehrenfried Günther Freiherr von Hünsfield. They leave for Chicago earlier in the day and stop in Cleveland in the early afternoon. Taking off from there at 1:52 p.m. they fight fog and rain and a 35-mile-per-hour headwind all the way to Chicago. They mistake a Maywood air strip for their destination because the map they are using indicates that it is the only air field in Chicago. Landing there causes further delay. But once they arrive at the Chicago Airport, they receive an exuberant reception, so exuberant, in fact, that the crowd has to be restrained. A procession of 40 cars decorated with flags of the United States, the Irish Free State and the German republic, carry the heroes along Sixty-Third Street to Kedzie with the roads lined with cheering crowds. The celebration moves up Kedzie to Garfield Boulevard and east to Michigan Avenue where the three men are delivered to the Stevens Hotel. “After an hour’s rest,” reports the Chicago Daily Tribune, “the trio emerged to be photographed and interviewed. The booming of flashlights was delayed for a moment while Maj. Fitamaurice, something of a dandy, smoothed back his pompadour with a comb borrowed from one of the camera men.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, May 11, 1928] The celebration continues into the next day when a two-hour reception is held at Soldier Field (pictured above) and Mayor William Hale Thompson holds a luncheon at South Shore Country Club to honor the city’s guests of honor.

Monday, May 9, 2016

May 9. 1951 -- Chicago River Hosts the Cliffs Victory

May 9, 1951 – The 620-foot Cliffs Victory, missing its rudder and guided by two tug boats, front and back, makes its way slowly through the Chicago River and out into Lake Michigan. It is the longest ship ever to move through the inland waterway from the Atlantic to the Great Lakes, and it takes two hours for the great ship to move from Harrison Street to the lake. The closest squeeze comes at the Van Buren Street bridge where the bridge’s abutments narrow the channel to just a few inches wider than the ship’s 70-foot beam. The tugs Louisiana and Utah inch the converted liberty ship through with “some of the black paint scraped from her plates.” [Chicago Tribune, May 10, 1951] Onlookers along the main stem of the river gape as in several places the big ship passes with her stern just clearing an upraised bridge as her bow is abreast of the next one over a block away. Since the lock at the mouth of the river is 20 feet shorter than the Cliffs Victory, special arrangements have to be made. She is run up until she nearly touches the east gate of the lock, and ropes are run from the ship’s winches to mooring posts along the lock. The the gate is opened, and water from the lake, nearly 18 inches higher than the river pours in, pushing the ship back. “Then with two tugs straining furiously,” reports the Tribune, “and the winches pulling in the mooring lines, the ship began to move against the current. Fifteen minutes later the stern cleared the west gate and it was closed, stemming the flood into the river.” From Chicago the ship is moved to South Chicago where she will be re-fitted for ore duty on the Great Lakes.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

May 8, 1929 -- Suit Filed Against a Sand Sucker

May 8: 1929 – After knocking the 600-ton Clark Street bridge from its foundation on April 30 the Sandmaster, a dredging vessel, is singled out by Assistant Corporation Counsels Charles McDonnell and Thomas W. Barrett, who prepare a suit against the owners of the ship. Records indicate that since May 21 of 1926 the wayward Sandmaster has struck 13 city bridges on 44 separate occasions. In these three years the ship rams the Fullerton Avenue bridge 18 times and the Diversey Boulevard bridge 13 times. 

Here are the incidents a search of the records reveal, damages that total an estimated quarter of a million dollars:

May 21:  Fullerton Avenue (damage to bridge ladder)
May 27:  Fullerton Avenue (damage to beams under walk)
June 20:  Diversey Boulevard (sidewalk)
August 10:  Diversey Boulevard (beams under walk)
August 10:  Fullerton Avenue (ladder to pier lights)
November 30:  Lake Street (sidewalk)
December 22:  State Street (sidewalk)
December 27:  Diversey Boulevard (channel lights)
December 27:  Kinzie Street (protection rails)

January 3:  Diversey Boulevard (sidewalk)
January 9:  Western Avenue (protection rails)
January 20:  Cortland Street (bridge house – bridge tender hurt)
January 23:  Fullerton Avenue (iron beam)
February 2:  Diversey Boulevard (protection rails)
February 3:  Western Avenue (cable)
March 9:  Fullerton Avenue (iron walk support)
March 18:  Halsted Street (bridge house door)
May 18:  Diversey Boulevard (sidewalk)
June 2:  Diversey Boulevard (pier light, ladder)

January 15:  Fullerton Avenue (sidewalk)
February 4:  Diversey Boulevard (pier platform)
March 18:  Erie Street (bridge house)
April 18:  Fullerton Avenue (bracket stringer)
April 22:  Fullerton Avenue (sidewalk bracket)
June 12:  Fullerton avenue (sidewalk)
June 15:  Division Street (porch, pier lights)
July 13:  Fullerton Avenue (sidewalk)
July 16:  Diversey Boulevard (platform, pier lights)
September 27:  Diversey Boulevard (protection rails, platform)
September 28:  Diversey Boulevard (protection rails, platform)
October 16:  Fullerton Avenue (sidewalk)
October 18:  Fullerton Avenue (sidewalk)
October 27:  Fullerton Avenue (bracket, stringer)
November 5:  Fullerton Avenue (rail posts)
December 2:  Fullerton Avenue (sidewalks)
December 4:  Michigan Avenue (cables)
December 5:  La Salle Street (cables)
December 8:  Fullerton Avenue (sidewalk brackets)
December 10:  Diversey Boulevard (sidewalk)

December 31:  Fullerton Avenue (two iron brackets)