Tuesday, July 25, 2017

July 25, 1890 -- The Smoke "Nuisance"

July 25, 1890 – Choosing two industries that the general populace associates with good times, a Chicago Daily Tribune editorial then puts the candy makers and the soap manufacturers squarely in the spotlight in order to once again rail against the smoke that chokes the city.  “Almost the entire output of a candy factory,” the editorial observes, “is for outside consumption … The furnaces refuse utterly to eat the smoke for whose make they are directly responsible, and insist on giving it in large and unpalatable doses to the public at large.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, July 25, 1890] Of the “cakes” of soap manufactured in the city, the paper writes, “They smell so delicious that the little Indian maids under the care of Christian missionary ladies insist on eating them and going dirty.  If the smoke that comes daily from the chimney of a big soap factory jutting on the river near Rush street bridge should get a fair shake at the delicately perfumed packages the young aborigines would get over a bad habit with dispatch.” The smoke that the city’s industries produce is so bad that “Over towards the Adams street bridge a dog in a leading string is necessary for guidance.”  No one is exempt from the critical eye.  Bookbinders and printers “whose chimneys belch out stuff as black as the ink imprints that Guttenberg’s genius made possible.”  Merchants “turn out a tremendous stock every hour of the day, and foist it on their neighbors without money and without price – a practice conducive to mining life and wages in the coal regions.”  The editorial ends with a warning of government’s newfound seriousness concerning the smoke-choked city, “The city authorities will prosecute offending smokers hereafter without the preliminary of a warning.  Warnings in the past have failed of effect, and now the service of summons will be the first intimation received by owners and occupants of buildings that their presence is desirable in court.” 

July 25, 1919 – In Room 1123 of the county building Coroner Peter M. Hoffman conducts an investigation into the cause of the fire that sent the dirigible Wingfoot Express into a fatal plummet through the skylight of the Illinois Trust and Savings Bank on La Salle Street, setting off a gasoline-fueled conflagration that kills a crew member, two passengers, and ten employees of the bank.  Dramatic testimony comes in the person of the airship’s pilot, John A. Boettner, who testifies that there were no sparks or flames thrown from the engine and that the engines were running when the fire was spotted.  “I discovered the flames near the front of the bag and up above the equator,” Boettner says, “I rose to my feet and holding the wheel with one hand turned and by motions and shouts told the others to jump.  I saw them go over and then the bag buckled.  As the gondola shot forward I took a long dive toward the ground.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, July 26, 1919]  The above photo shows the skylight  of the Illinois Trust and Savings Bank through which the dirigible fell to the banking floor.   

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