Tuesday, April 4, 2017

April 4, 1974 -- New Town Gets a Boost

April 4, 1974 – At a meeting of civic and business leaders in the Bismarck Hotel a proposal is made to create a corporation that will make the New Town development project in the south Loop a reality.   The agreement would see Chicago 21 Corporation selling $30 million in stock to fund the initial development of the area bounded by Congress Street on the north, Cermak Road on the south, State Street on the east, and the South Branch of the river on the west.  Some 40,000 families, it is anticipated, will one day settle in this area of unused railroad land.  Negotiations with the 19 railroads involved in the project are seen as comprising the biggest hurdle that the plan must get over. With two principal goals at the heart of the development, backers are optimistic.  Reports the Chicago Tribune, “It is considered by its backers to be the answer to flight to the suburbs by whites, and the prime means of beefing up the simultaneously booming and decaying central area. [Chicago Tribune, April 5, 1974] In reviewing these goals, Philip M. Klutznick, chairman of the executive committee of Urban Investment and Development states, “I firmly believe that the time is long gone when [suburbanites] can leave the Loop at 5 o’clock and simply leave the problems of the city behind them.” [Chicago Tribune, April 5, 1974]  Construction of the first phase of what would come to be known as Dearborn Park began in November of 1977.  Although it was an ambitious project, it was far smaller in scale than the New Town plan announced back in 1974.  The above photo shows what the area south of the old station looks like today as development continues.

April 4, 1969 -- Although National Guard troops are withdrawn from the streets of Chicago, police patrols are increased in an attempt to prevent more violence after two days of fighting, rock throwing, gunfire, and looting that leave 96 injured and 271 under arrest. A 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew is in effect for those under the age of 21 and a ban exists on the sale of gasoline in cans or portable containers, guns, ammunition and liquor in troubled areas throughout the city. The disturbances begin at various schools across the city as ceremonies are held to mark the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King a year after he was felled by an assassin's bullet on April 4, 1968.

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