Monday, May 29, 2017

May 29, 1966 -- 120 South Riverside Drive Begins to Rise

May 29, 1966 – The Chicago Tribune reports that the first steel has been erected above ground for the 120 South Riverside Plaza office building that is being constructed over the air rights of the railroad tracks of Union Station just west of the south branch of the Chicago River.  The steel, produced at the South Works of United States Steel and fabricated at the Gary plant of the American Bridge division of U. S. Steel, is part of 9,100 tons of steel that will be needed to complete the 22-story structure, a duplicate of the building at 10 South Riverside Plaza.  Tishman Realty and Construction Company has plans for a total of four buildings in the area that will be called Gateway Center, a project that will cost an estimated 100 million dollars.

May 29, 1906 – A fire breaks out in Armour Elevator “D,” located on a slip on the west side of the Chicago River at approximately Twenty-Second Street and Morgan, smoldering undetected until it blows out the north and south ends of the elevator and lights the night sky enough to be seen from Ravenswood to South Chicago. Sixty-two fire engines, some of them from as far north as Lakeview, and three fireboats are called to fight the fire in a massive structure containing a million bushels of wheat, corn and oats. The first firemen on the scene have to haul their equipment down a bank to the slip to get close enough to the fire. There are no nearby fire hydrants, so all of the water has either to be pulled from the slip or else come from fireboats. The massive Commonwealth Electric company plant northwest of the elevator is repeatedly ignited by burning embers, so the fire department’s efforts are devoted chiefly to saving it as well as lumber yards that lie to the west. Acting Fire Chief McDonough states, “It was impossible to save the elevators, and all the efforts of the department were directed to saving the millions of dollars’ worth of property in the vicinity. The recent rains soaked the lumber in the adjacent yards and probably did considerable toward stopping the spread of the flames.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, May 30, 1906] The photo above shows the elevator as it appeared before the fire, which must have been a spectacular conflagration.

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