Friday, June 16, 2017

June 16, 1909 -- People's Gas Building Goes to Trial

June 16, 1909 – Work on the People’s Gas Light and Coke building on the northwest corner of Michigan Avenue and Adams Street interrupts a trial in the adjoining Municipal court building just to the north.  The Chicago Daily Tribune reports, “An iron girder weighing more than a ton and which was being put in place on the new building of the Peoples Gas Light and Coke company … crashed against a window of Chief Justice Harry Olson’s court on the twelfth floor yesterday and interrupted a trial.  Jurors and attorneys rushed to the other side of the room where they remained alarmed until the cause of the accident was learned.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, June 17, 1909] One might conjecture, I suppose, that the courtroom bailiff was tempted to cry out, “Girder in the court!”  But probably not.  In the above photo he People's Gas Light and Coke building, designed by the office of Daniel Burnham, is shown as it is being constructed.

June 16, 1932 – George “Red” Barker is gunned down as he walks in front of 1502 North Crawford Avenue.  An abandoned machine gun and spent cartridges are found on the floor of a room at that address.  Indications are that there were shots fired from across the street as well.  Two men and a woman walking with Barker are unharmed. They drag Barker into a car and speed to the Keystone Hospital on North Kostner Avenue where they find the doors locked.  Kicking in the door, they command the night nurse, Miss Elizabeth Curran, to attend to their companion, but he has already died from his wounds.  Barker had a criminal record going back 16 years and had served time in the prison at Pontiac, Illinois.  There was little mystery behind the execution.  As the Chicago Daily Tribune observed, “Underground rumors for some months had indicated that Barker, with Jack (Three Fingers) White and Murray Humphreys, former Capone gangsters, had formed a triumvirate with the intention of taking over extensive liquor and gambling territories held by the Sicilian survivors of the Capone regime, who had control of practically the whole of the county.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, June 17, 1932]  The son of a policeman, Barker heads to his grave at Mt. Carmel Cemetery in style.  4,000 people observe his final ride as 18 carloads of flowers follow the hearse.

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