Sunday, March 12, 2017

March 12, 1978 -- Lace Drawers in Front

Dr. Philip M. Hauser
March 12, 1978 – The Chicago Tribune interviews Dr. Philip M. Hauser, a sociologist and population trends expert, who starts off the Q and A with this statement, “This city has lace pants in the front, and soiled drawers behind.”  [Chicago Tribune, March 12, 1978] Hauser spends much of the interview talking about the plight of the city’s minority population, saying, “It would be naive to assume that Chicago’s minorities will indefinitely accept their lot.  Continuing frustration, alienation, despair, and hostility can readily translate into extreme forms of violence.  History should have taught us that there is nothing as dangerous as a nation, a group, or a person with nothing to lose.”  Tribune reporters ask Hauser, “On the assumption that the statistical trends will not significantly change, what can be done to save the city?”  His answer is not very encouraging.  “Not very much unless someone does something about changing the trends . . . Chicago’s leaders have been very busy putting up statues and making the lakefront pretty, but it is people who make cities what they are, and at the moment Chicago is in an apartheid situation, both residential and business.”

March 12, 1849 -- A year after the Illinois and Michigan Canal joined the Chicago River to the Illinois River, an event occurred that must have caused some questioning of the wisdom of that engineering feat. It had been a snowy winter, followed by a rapid thaw and three days of rain. The interior of Illinois was waterlogged, and the rivers and streams were over their banks. At about 10:00 a.m. a massive ice dam on the south branch of the Chicago River gives way with results that are devastating. There are at least 90 vessels of various sizes on the river, and most are swept from their moorings and pushed toward the lake. As the mass of ice, water, and entangled ships swept along, a small boy is crushed to death at the Randolph Street bridge. A little girl meets death as a ship's mast falls into a group of onlookers. Late in the afternoon a man is spotted waving a handkerchief form a canal boat about ten miles offshore, but there are no undamaged boats to send to his rescue. 40 vessels are completely wrecked, a dozen float free on the lake, the lock at Bridgeport is totally destroyed, and not a single bridge is left spanning the river. Three weeks later cholera breaks out and before the year is out, 678 Chicagoans will have died from the disease.

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