Friday, March 31, 2017

March 31, 2003 -- Meigs Field: "X" Marks the Spot

March 31, 2003 – Under cover of darkness trucks carrying construction equipment move onto Meigs Field and shortly after midnight bulldozers begin to dig six huge “X” marks into the airstrip, stranding 16 privately owned aircraft on the tarmac of an airport that will never function again.  Mike Daffenberg, an air traffic controller at the airport, says he found out he was out of a job on his way to the airport from DeKalb for his 6:00 a.m. shift.  “I felt I was laid off by the radio this morning,” he said.  [Chicago Tribune, April 1, 2003] Mayor Richard M. Daley is unapologetic, and the Tribune observes, “Still stewing because federal authorities were quicker to restrict airspace over Mickey and Minnie at Disney World and Disneyland than they were for Chicago, Daley said his unilateral closure of Meigs was prompted in part by fears that the nation’s homeland security bureaucracy was moving too slowly to address the city’s needs.”  A spokesman for the Aircraft Pilots and Owners Association, Warren Morningstar, says, “We have our version of shock and awe right tin downtown Chicago.  What we really are upset about is that the mayor has no honor, and his word has no value.” 

March 31, 1890 -- The Chicago Daily Tribune reports that "The Accountant," a painting by Rembrandt van Rijn, will remain in Chicago on display at the Art Institute. The treasure comes by way of Chicago oil man P. C. Hanford, who purchased the painting, valued at the time at $60,000. "I did not want to see it go away from Chicago," said Hanford. "I was waiting for some of our rich people to buy it -- one of the men who could spend the money and not feel it. I am not rich, but I love art. I waited till the last moment. We are going to have a World's Fair here and anything that we can get hold of in the way of art we ought to keep here." [Chicago Daily Tribune, March 31, 1890] You won't find the painting at the Art Institute today. Mr. Hanford sold the work on January 31, 1902 for £4,600 or a little over $22,000. 

Thursday, March 30, 2017

March 30, 1853 -- Illinois Central Answers Riparian Suit

March 30, 1853 – The Chicago Daily Tribune reports on a court case that will impact the city for well over a century.  The case involves a suit which James H. Collins files against the Illinois Central Railroad Company, in which Collins attempts to enjoin the railroad from running its tracks “in the lake at some distance from the shore.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, March 30, 1853] The nut of the case is that the railroad, by constructing tracks off shore, will impact the value of privately held property along the lake.  The attorney for Collins, John M. Wilson, argues that “the State has the right to use the waters of the Lake for all public purposes,” but that “the State cannot give the company this power.”  The attorney for the railroad argues that “the Legislature of the State of Illinois has passed a law giving to the Illinois Central Railroad Company so much of the lands belonging to the State as they may pass through and as may be necessary for the laying of the track and the construction of depots.”  As the day drags on, a lawyer for Collins says, “It is a conceded point, that if the complainants are the owners of property where the Company proposes to locate their road, that property cannot be taken, except by legal measures, and not then unless due compensation is made … This Company seeks with the strong arm of power to take this property and these advantages, without compensating the owners … There is no authority to sustain the position that one owning land upon a body of water can be cut off from the water and its attendant advantages, without compensation.” In a January, 1951 article the Chicago Tribune made an interesting point about the transaction that came following the Collins vs. I.C. case, “The Illinois Central did not ask for its lake front tracksite.  That was assigned to it by the city.  The lake at that time came right up to Michigan av.  I. C. historians assert the city decided it would be a nice thing to have a railroad between itself and the open lake, and stuck the Illinois Central out there for protection.”  In any event, the railroad got the land, built a trestle, and occupied prime lakefront real estate for a century or more, sparring with the city over its position on lakefront land for most of that time.  The above photo shows the train that carried the body of Abraham Lincoln to the city as it moves along the lakefront trestle in 18

March 30, 1945 -- Frank Lloyd Wright addresses the Chicago Chapter of the American Institute of Architects at the Casino Club. He talks at length about "the philosophy of organic architecture" [Chicago Daily Tribune, March 31, 1945] and makes this observation when asked about the future of cities, "Cities are just as dated as static and the radio. Americans just want to live. Cities are not important. The reality of buildings consists of space within -- to live in. The old period of putting the outside in -- is gone." The photo above was taken in 1945, the year of the Casino Club address.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

March 29, 2013 -- RiverWalk Loan is a "Done Deal"

March 29, 2013 – United States Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announces that a $100 million federal loan to extend Chicago’s river walk from State Street to Lake Street is a “done deal”.  As envisioned the Riverwalk will focus on the history and ecology of the river, include a zero-depth fountain for children, kayak rentals, and a section with floating gardens.  LaHood says that about 70 percent of the revenue for the loan repayment will come from higher fees that two companies – Mercury Skyline Yacht Charters and Wendella Sightseeing --  will pay the city to dock boats along the river.  It is anticipated that there will be a significant contribution from retail space and other amenities and vendors along the river.  Mayor Rahm Emanuel says, “The truth is, we’re now at a juncture in the history of the city of reintroducing the city to the river and the river to the city.”  [Chicago Tribune, March 29, 2013] 

March 29, 1917 -- The Chicago City Council receives the design for a city flag, designed by Wallace Rice, and submitted by the Chicago Flag Commission. The commission describes the flag in this way: "Its uppermost stripe, of white, is eight inches broad; the second stripe of blue is nine inches; the central bar, of white is eighteen inches, and the two lower stripes correspond with the uppermost two. Near the staff on the broad white stripe are two six pointed red stars, fourteen inches tall. Viewed locally, the two blue stripes symbolize the Chicago river with its two branches and the three white bars represent the three sides of the city. The red stars stand for the Chicago fire and the World's fair [of 1893], two great influences on the city's history. The six points in the first star stand for transportation, trade, finance, industry, populousness, and healthfulness; those in the second for religion, education, aesthetics, beneficence, justice and civism. Considered nationally the blue stripes stand for the mountain ranges which flank the plain of which Chicago is the center. The central white bar stands for this plain and the two outer white bars for the Atlantic and Pacific coasts." [Chicago Tribune, March 30, 1917]. Two stars have been added to the flag since this first attempt. One corresponds to the establishment of Fort Dearborn in 1807; it was added in 1939. Added in 1933, the final star symbolizes the Century of Progress World's Fair, held on the lakefront in the summers of 1933 and 1934.