Saturday, December 16, 2017

December 16, 1941 -- Chicago Architects Step Up

Erenest A. Grunsfeld, Jr.,
the principal architect of the Adler Planetairum
December 16, 1941 – Just nine days after the Japanese attack on Pear Harbor, the Palmer House hosts a meeting of 550 architects at which 339 members of the American Institute of Architects agree to do full time work in support of the war effort with 241 members saying that they would be willing to go wherever they are assigned.  Ernest A. Grunsfeld, Jr., a member of the Institute’s executive committee, says, “The idea had its beginning at a meeting called to discuss air raid shelters.  We recalled that in the last war technical men rushed about in an effort to aid, and many ended by accepting any job to get in the swim rather than fitting in a position where they would do the most good.  So we set out to find what jobs the government needed done and what men were available to do them.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, December 17, 1941] Participants at the meeting also decide to open an office in the city to place architects where they can do the most good. 

December 16, 1942 – It is interesting to note how many things that we take for granted today begin as strange, curious, or contested, often taking years before they find acceptance.  One such item went to court on this date in 1942 as the City of Chicago, upon failing to get a permanent injunction against milk sold in paper cartons from Circuit Court Judge Benjamin P. Epstein, went immediately to the Illinois Supreme Court with its suit.  The case hinged on an interpretation of a 1935 city ordinance requiring that milk be sold in “standard” containers.  The United States Supreme Court had already sent the case back to Illinois, saying that it was a matter for the state courts to decide.  The case involved milk sold in single-serving containers, and in a 19-page opinion Judge Epstein ruled that the state legislature’s milk pasteurization law, passed on July 24, 1939, took precedence over the city’s law and permitted milk to be sold in the cartons.  “While the state legislature desired to preserve in the city the right to regulation,” Epstein wrote, “it did not intend to give to the city the right to prohibit that which the state permitted.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, December 11, 1942]  Interesting case . . . a mystery today why city officials would initiate a case, follow it through the local court, the Illinois Supreme Court, the U. S. Supreme Court, back to the local court and again to the state’s Supreme Court over a milk carton, all of this in the middle of wartime.

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