Thursday, December 15, 2016

December 15, 1940 -- Proposal Made for Lakefront Airport

December 15, 1940 – Newly elected Congressman Charles S. Dewey calls upon all Chicagoans to begin backing a plan to place an airport in the heart of the city, a project that would extend from the lake a mile west to the New York Central Railroad tracks and from Sixteenth Street north to the south end of Soldier Field.  Dewey’s plan would raise the airport above the Outer Drive and the Illinois Central tracks just to the west of that roadway.  The congressman lists four distinct advantages of his plan:  (1) the city could recoup the cost of construction through fees charged to the airlines; (2) the project would provide a huge market for unskilled labor; (3) the location of the new airport would be a huge improvement in air service to the city and a boon for all city businesses; and (4) at least a square mile of “blighted area” would be removed from the near south side.  Dewey says, “It is fantastic to put the main airport out at the edge of the city.  The cheapest land, actually, is that in the blighted areas near the center of Chicago.”  Meeting objections an already noisy city become even noisier with an airport in its center, Dewey says, “A city is practically built upon noise.  Listen to that street traffic noise 20 floors below my office.  Noise means activity.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, December 16, 1940]   Dewey served one term as a representative from the Ninth Congressional District of Illinois, was defeated in his bid for re-election in 1945 and went back to the banking business as a vice-president of Chase National Bank.  

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