Sunday, April 16, 2017

April 16, 1903 -- Wells Street Bridge Near Miss

April 16, 1903 – Twenty-five terrified passengers go for a wild ride when a trolley car of the Southport Avenue line crashes into the end of the partly open Wells Street bridge at 8:00 p.m. and barely avoids tumbling into the river.  The swing bridge at Wells Street had been rotated to permit a boat to travel through the draw when the trolley approaches rapidly as it heads north.  Passengers panic as the trolley appears certain to plunge into the river, but the bridge begins to rotate back into place just in time for the car to crash into its girders.  The car is thrown nearly perpendicular to the tracks, and the impact throws all of the passengers to the floor and against the end of the car.  Fortunately, no one is seriously injured.  A dozen or more elevated trains and thirty surface cars wait to cross the bridge as it takes a wrecking crew an hour to extricate the Southport trolley from the bridge.  The Wells Street Bridge and the girders that saved the trolley are pictured above.

April 16, 1925 -- E. J. Stevens awards the contract for the $30,000,000 Hotel Stevens, today's Chicago Hilton and Towers on Michigan Avenue, to the Fuller Construction Company. The hotel will be the largest hotel in the world, according to Stevens. When it did open in 1927, the Holabird & Roche designed hotel had 3,000 rooms and, among other things, could produce 120 gallons of ice cream every hour. The Fuller Construction Company is an interesting footnote. Between 1900 and 1914 the Chicago firm was responsible for the construction of over 600 buildings. Chicago's beloved Marquette, Rookery, and Monadnock buildings were all built by Fuller. So, too, was the Flatiron building off Madison Square Park in New York City. The company was dissolved in 1970, and its last building was most probably the 150 North Wacker Drive building just south of Lake Street in Chicago.

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