Friday, November 24, 2017

November 24, 1951 -- Congress Hotel to Lose 25 Feet

November 24, 1951 – Albert Pick, Jr., the president of Pick Hotels Corporation, the owner of the Congress Hotel, announces that 15 feet will be removed from the north end of the hotel so that a sidewalk arcade can be created along the proposed Congress super-highway.  The Glass Hat dining room will be moved to another part of the hotel, and the Pompeiian Room will be enlarged.  According to Pick, new shops will line the arcade with 13 first-floor shops on the Congress Street and Michigan Avenue frontages of the building.  Holabird, Root and Burgee will be in charge of the plans for the buildings re-configuration.  When the arcade is completed, and a similar arcade on the south side of the arcade also is finished, Congress Street will have a pavement width of 63 feet.  Similar arcades will be created at the south end of the Sears, Roebuck and Company’s State Street store to allow the widening of Congress between Wabash and State.  The top photo shows the Pompeiian Room as it appeared after the move was completed.  The photo above shows the dining room as it appeared in 1921.

November 24, 1936 – Nine people are killed and 58 others injured as a North Shore Line train crashes into the rear of an Evanston express elevated train.  The Evanston train is standing at a switch 50 feet north of the Granville Avenue station when the first car of the North Shore train slams into the back of it, plowing “all the way through the wooden rear coach of the Evanston train, shearing off its roof and splintering it like a match box.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, November 25, 1936]  The wreck occurs at about 6:30 in the evening, and the horrors unfold in near total darkness.  The motorman of the North Shore train, Van R. Grooms, says, “I was traveling about 40 miles an hour.  Then I saw the rear of the Evanston train.  The lights were very dim.  I put on my brakes, and that’s the last thing I know.”  Firemen, working with flashlights, raise ladders along the elevated embankment and carry passengers from the wrecked trains.  Eventually, more than 600 police are at the scene, along with two companies of firemen, 20 police ambulances, and three fire department ambulances.  A regular rider on the Evanston train says, “I’ve been taking the train almost regularly for a number of years.  Each evening a few moments after the express switches onto the local track the North Shore roars by on the express track.  I have often thought that the timing of the two trains was too close for safety.”

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