Thursday, January 19, 2017

January 19, 1872 -- A City of Shanties No More . . . Maybe

January 19, 1872 – A little over a year after Chicago is destroyed by fire, the Chicago Tribune reports on the progress being made at establishing a fire-proof ordinance within the city.  The City Council, according to the article, is leaning toward a strict fire-proof ordinance within the center of the city, but seems inclined to exempt “that part of the South Division west of State and south of Twenty-fifth street, and west of Halsted street; all of the West Division south and west of Halsted, Rebecca, Throop, Twelfth, Reuben and Van Buren streets, and west of Western avenue … all of the West Division beyond Western avenue, north and west of Walnut and Reuben streets and Chicago avenue … in the North Division, all of the territory north and west of Chicago avenue, Wells street, and North avenue.”  [Chicago Tribune, January 19, 1972] This plan, the article indicates, “surrounds the city, north, west, and south, with a cordon, several miles deep of wooden buildings.”  The plan seems to take special care to avoid damaging the lucrative house-moving business, an industry the paper did not look upon with favor.  “No man who erects a permanent building,” the article states, “can tell the day when there may not be backed in on each side of his building some old rotten tenement, to be rented out at extortionate rates for prostitution, gambling, or other equally disreputable business.”  Contained within the ordinance, though, is a stipulation that whenever the owners of a majority of the ground on any block outside of the fire district shall so request, that block shall come under the provisions of the fire ordinance.  The paper urges the legislators to go farther, to make it unlawful “to erect any wooden building, barn, or shed within 150 feet, in any direction, from a brick or stone building already erected.”  The article ends with a plea to pass the legislation, “The passage of an ordinance prohibiting the erection hereafter of any wooden buildings in the city, with proper provision for the enforcement of the law, would be equal, in its financial effects, to the free loan of several millions of dollars.  It would relieve this city of an enormous indirect tax, and would invite hither a large amount of capital for permanent investment, which will avoid us if we continue to be a city of shanties.”

Also on this date from an earlier blog entry . . .

January 19, 2010 -- Researchers report that for the first time DNA of Asian carp has been found in Lake Michigan. The U. S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other agencies quickly moved to allay fears about the invasive species spawning on the balconies of River North high rises, saying that there was still no evidence that live carp had entered the lake. Army Corps Major General John Peabody said, "The fact is that we don't know where the fish are. DNA tells us there is a presence in those areas and we've got to begin looking at whether we are getting false positives or negatives so we know what we're dealing with." Hours before the announcement the U. S. Supreme Court refused to address the carp issue, rejecting Michigan's request for an injunction that would force Illinois to stop any sources of water that might flow into Lake Michigan.

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