Sunday, December 11, 2016

December 11, 1911 -- Historic Agreement on Lakeshore Announced

December 11, 1911 – At a meeting of the Chicago City Council Mayor Carter Harrison reveals that an agreement has been reached between the South Park commissioners and the Illinois Central railroad in which the city will take possession of the lakeshore between Park Row on the south end of what is today Grant Park and Fifty-First Streets.  The Chicago Daily Tribune says of the deal, “These riparian rights, heretofore held in the grip of the railroad, have a value to the citizens of Chicago that is considered by the park commissioners beyond computation, considering that they will now be enabled to construct a shore boulevard drive between Jackson and Grant parks, with bathing beaches, pleasure piers and islands.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, December 12, 1911]  A direct result of the agreement will be a place between Twelfth and Thirteenth Streets for the Field museum after the railroad tears down its central station and associated outbuildings in that area.  The railroad also benefits as between Thirteenth and Fiftieth Streets its right-of-way will be increased to a width of 400 feet.  The railroad will also lower its tracks below grade north of Twelfth Street, in effect hiding its operation as much as possible from sight.  There are dozens and dozens of other stipulations in the agreement, but there is probably no other document in the city’s history that has done more to create the extensive green space along its shoreline than this one.  South Park Board President John Earton Payne says the agreement will make the connection between Grant Park and Jackson Park “the most beautiful parkway and drive in the world.”  The above photo shows the south end of Grant Park and the Illinois Central terminal in 1911.  The statue in the middle of the park is the statue of General John A. Logan -- still in the same location today -- showing how much the lakefront has changed in this area along in the past century.

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