April 5, 1962 – The maiden flight of a new Alitalia DC-8 from Rome to O’Hare is marred as the jet is forced to circle at 20,000 feet while thunderstorms sweep through the area. Among the passengers on the jet, which lands nearly two hours after its scheduled touch-down, are 14 former Italian pilots, men who were part of a squadron of 96 flyers who came to Chicago on July 14, 1933 in two dozen sea planes. The impressive display was a part of the great Century of Progress World’s Fair that took place on the city’s lakefront in the summers of 1933 and 1934. Marshall Italo Balbo commanded the group, and the citizens of the city were so impressed by the heroic display of the aviators that they named a street for Balbo. The flight in 1933 took 16 days to complete. The return flight on this date in 1962, even with the weather delay, took 11 hours and 49 minutes. You can learn more about the feats of Balbo and his men here and here. The dedication of the Balbo column, still on the lakefront path just north of McCormick Place, is shown in the above photo.
April 5, 1969 -- More than 20,000 people march down State Street in opposition to the war in Vietnam. As the march assembles, demonstrators are given printed instructions to cooperate with police and ignore counter-protestors. A select group of 800 Chicago police officers is also instructed to show courtesy to the marchers. The only major disruption comes at Fourteenth and State where a protestor and counter-protestor get into it with each other. National Guard troops, already in the city because of incidents stemming from the anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King a year earlier, are not needed.