Wednesday, August 31, 2016

August 31, 1922 -- Jumping the Bridge

Vincent "Skimmer" Drucci
August 31, 1922 – So . . . we think stuff like this only happens in the movies.  But on this day in 1922 a “safeblower,” Vincent “Skimmer” Drucci, pursued by two detectives down Michigan Avenue, jumps over a gap in the Michigan Avenue Bridge as it is opening for a boat to pass.  The Chicago Daily Tribune reports, “Bending the gates as if they were paper, Drucci drove his car up the incline and shot it across the four foot gap between the halves of the bridge . . . The detectives wee hot on his heels.  Although the gap was wider they duplicated their quarry’s performance, fifty feet above the Chicago River.  One block on the south side of the river, Drucci was caught in a traffic jam.  He tried to escape on foot, but was seized.  He will appear in the Chicago avenue court today.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, September 1, 1922]  Drucci died two years later on April 27 when Detective Dan Healy shot him three times in a sequence of events that differed, depending on which version of the story one believed.  He was buried in Mt. Carmel Cemetery in a casket that cost $10,000.  He left an estate worth a half-million bucks. 

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

August 30, 1891 -- As Perfect As Money and Skill Can Make It

August 30, 1891 – The Chicago Daily Tribune greets news that a new art museum will be built on the lakefront with an editorial in its favor.  “The most important feature of the scheme, however, is the securing of a permanent art gallery for the city of sufficient dimensions to meet all demands for long years to come . . . It may be anticipated that the new structure will be as perfect as money and skill can make it, and as beautiful as artistic taste can suggest . . . something which will more clearly reflect the growth of enterprise, skill, and artistic taste in the World’s Fair City.”  The paper, and the city along with it, got its wish.

Monday, August 29, 2016

August 29, 1925 -- South Water Street Dies

South Water Street Looking west toward the Wells Street Elevated 
August 29, 1925 – After 80 years the South Water street market dies at noon as progress moves forward and the first link of the new Wacker Drive, between Franklin and Market Streets prepares to open to traffic the following day. This is the day on which wreckers start demolishing buildings on the north side of South Water Street east of La Salle to begin the eastern extension of Wacker Drive.  With this action a market that began on the oldest street in the city, on a street where the first Board of Trade was established in 1848, with annual business of over $300,000,000, closes down and moves to a new location bounded by Fourteenth Place, South Morgan Street, South Racine Avenue, and the Baltimore and Ohio terminal.  This market closed in 2001.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

August 28, 1900 -- Grand Army of the Republic Marches Again

August 28, 1900 – For five hours “in ranks twelve deep, the white-haired veterans of the Grand Army of the Republic passed in their last grand parade . . . Never again can they meet in such numbers.  They are growing gray haired and aged, and gradually death is mustering them out.  But yesterday they marched 23,000 strong through the down-town streets of Chicago . . .”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, August 29, 1900]  Beginning at 10:00 a.m. the veterans of the Union Army march down Michigan Avenue until 3:45 p.m.  Commanding General of the Army Nelson A. Miles, upon reviewing the ranks, says, “It was a parade which all Europe, with all its armies combined, could not duplicate.  It was a spectacle which perhaps no American shall witness again.”  Although the 23,000 attendees make up only a small portion of the 2,880,000 men who fought, the encampment of the Grand Army of the Republic taxes the city’s resources.  Trains bring 195,000 people to six different railroad stations.  Elevated and surface line trains handle 725,000 passengers on the night of August 28, and 140,000 people arrive in the city on the day before the parade, putting a huge strain on hotels.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

August 27, 1978 -- Weese Pleads for Saving the "El"

August 27, 1978 – At a time when it appears that Chicago’s Loop elevated system is doomed, architect Harry Weese writes a guest editorial for the Chicago Tribune in which he asks that the system be spared.  He begins by calling the elevated system “a landmark of structural and artistic integrity and of historical significance.”  [Chicago Tribune, August 27, 1978]  “Like the old Auditorium Theater,” Weese asserts, “which languished for 25 dark years before being recalled of its former splendor, a redeemed “L” would be a proud symbol of an age when Chicago led the world in its technological revolution.  It is part of the city’s legacy, as much as its museums and park systems and architectural landmarks . . . Putting people underground enhances neither their psyches nor their safety.”

Friday, August 26, 2016

August 26, 1927 -- Buckingham Fountain Is Dedicated

August 26, 1927 – John Philip Sousa conducts “Stars and Stripes Forever” on a terrace east of the new Buckingham Fountain as the fountain is dedicated before 50,000 Chicagoans.  And “As though responding to the direction of the bandmaster and the magic of his baton, the fountain began to glow with misty blue lights circling each of the three tiers.  A moment later the rush of water started.  For half an hour the lights were played on the 134 jets, through which 5,500 gallons of water were poured each minute, and all the various lighting effects were displayed.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, August 27, 1927]  Walter B. Smith, a friend of Kate Buckingham, the woman who donated the fountain to the city in memory of her brother, Clarence, makes an address explaining the donation for Buckingham, who is present among the guests in the grandstand.  Michael Igoe, a member of the U. S. House of Representatives and a commissioner of the South Park Board, accepts the $700,000 fountain on behalf of the city.