Thursday, February 9, 2017

February 9, 1890 -- Elevator Ride to the Top of the Auditorium

February 9, 1890 – The Chicago Daily Tribune describes a ride in the Auditorium building’s elevator, opened for use the week before.  The “elevator man” is clearly pleased to be showing off the new device.  “We go at a pretty good clip,” he says.  “Our speed is 450 feet a minute.  This is the longest ‘lift’ in the world.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, February 9, 1890] A guard took tickets at the door to the rooftop, a place where a visitor finds “a sense of elation . . . with his feet on stone as solid as terra firma and walked about with a parapet waist high.”  It is a place where “Dante might stand . . . and fancy himself suspended at a comfortable distance over the Inferno.  Smoke, fog, and clouds combine in a debauch of murkiness.  Look to the east, the west, the south, and everywhere you see miles and miles of chimneys spouting smoke, and each one belching as if it feared to be surpassed by its fellows.”  Through the smoke the visitor sees little of the lake, but looking directly to the east he sees “what the railroad has left of the Lake Front Park—a narrow stretch of green embroidered with walks and lying between Michigan avenue and the parallel tracks of the Illinois Central … And all these cars and engines from this distance look like the toy trains that a boy amuses himself with on the nursery floor.”  Two floors above the observation roof are the offices of the federal weather bureau, nearing completion, with eight employees manning a variety of gauges and a map printing room.  Soon enough the visit is over and “Entering the elevator again the visitor shot downward eighteen stories, dropping from winter’s cold into sultry weather.”  The above photo shows the "parapet" that was open to the public just above the three arches that cap the windows of the tower.  The weather bureau would have occupied the space above that.

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

February 9, 1954 -- The Chicago Park Fair corporation names the architectural firms of Holabird & Root & Burgee and Ralph H. Burke to make a world-wide survey of convention and exhibit halls with an eye toward building a state-of-the-art convention hall. The non-profit corporation was funded with Cook County's share of the one percent tax on race track betting. Ground would be broken on the hall, McCormick Place, in 1958 with its completion coming two years later. It lasted seven years until a spectacular fire on a frigid night in 1967 destroyed the structure.

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