Tuesday, August 1, 2017

August 1, 1884 -- Rush Street Bridge Problems

August 1, 1884 – The new bridge at Rush Street is having more than its share of adjustment problems.  Problems in aligning the south approach to the bridge with the bridge itself delayed the opening, but those difficulties were eventually worked out, and the bridge was opened earlier in the week.  It worked fine until 8:15 a.m. on August 1 when a crew shift took place and the new bridge tender gave the engineer on duty a signal to swing the bridge shut.  Unfortunately, “He obeyed so readily that a crash followed.  The pressure had been applied so suddenly that there was nothing left but for something to give way.  Accordingly a mouthful was taken out of the cogwheels by which the traveler is worked, the shafting was demoralized, and the bridge stopped short.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, August 2, 1884] A swing bridge such as the one at Rush Street sat on a turntable in the center of the river, and when such a bridge was rotated, pedestrians were not asked to leave the bridge.  On this day a dozen men and three women were on the bridge when it was swung open and “their consternation was great on being told that they stood a good chance to camp out on the bridge for several days if they preferred to wait till it swung shut again.”. The men chose to be transferred to the north side of the river in a dredge “half filled with water” but the women were reluctant to follow.  Several tugs passed the trio “but no attention was paid to the fluttering handkerchiefs and the feminine pleadings” until the captain of the tug Mentor came to the women’s assistance.  After “a number of advances and retreats had been made” and “some lively hopping to reach a plank that had been thrust out” the women were delivered to the State Street bridge just to the east where they once again found dry land.  Interestingly, the Schlitz warehouse just west of the Rush Street bridge in the above photo stood approximately where Trump International Hotel and Tower stands today.

August 1, 2001:  Chicago Tribune architecture critic Blair Kamin reports on a “freewheeling interview” he has had with Donald Trump, a “brash New Yorker who would bring the world’s tallest building [to Chicago].”  Kamin concludes, “This is a man, who it became clear as we talked, gives the bottom line the top priority.”  One of the topics Kamin discusses with the developer concerns the possibility that Trump might build the tallest building in the world on the site of the former Sun-Times building.  Trump’s reacts by saying, “Would I like to do that?  The answer is yes.  Does it have marketing value?  I think the answer is yes.  But the fact is, it’s very costly.  Does the additional cost justify it?  That’s a determination I’ll have to make.”  Kamin bookends his reporting with observations from architect Stanley Tigerman who “almost hissing” says of Trump, “He’s Mr. Glitz.  He’s shown an utter incapacity for doing great buildings.  He has no taste . . . He’s a Gucci carpetbagger . . . You’ve got to have a great client to do a really good building.  You’re lucky if Trump doesn’t get financing.”

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